When you find yourself at cookouts, family picnics, grilling parties and events every weekend in the summer, it can sometimes feel hard to stay in shape and stick to your weight loss program. But it might be easier than you think to get and stay slim this summer! Simply follow the tips below to ensure you stay on track with your weight management goals:
Bring your own friendly dish
When going to events where you have to bring a dish, be sure to make something that is program inspired. That way you’ll know that you can have something nutritious no matter how decadent all the other food choices may be. It’s always reassuring to know that there will be at least one dish there that you can eat without feeling guilty. And no doubt people will thank you for making something so yummy too! If the party isn’t a potluck, offer to bring something anyway – hosts always appreciate the help.
Pay attention to portions
Use these visual points of reference to estimate how much of each food choice would be considered a portion:
- Ice cream scoop = half a cup (rice or pasta)
- Ping Pong ball = 2 tbsp (grated cheese, nuts, seeds)
- Thumb tip = 1 tsp (fat such as oil or salad dressing)
- Tennis ball = 1 medium-sized fruit (apple, pear, orange)
- A rounded handful (the amount that would fit in one hand rounded) = ½ cup (vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber)
- Cheque book = 90 grams (fish)
- Deck of cards = 90 grams (meat)
- Four dice = 30 grams (cheese)
Always fill up on vegetables first
Vegetables are great summer foods. Many delicious varieties of vegetables can be bought fresh and made into wonderful salads, cold soups, or grilled on the barbecue. When eating at summer events, it’s always great to fill up on vegetables first before indulging in some of the richer options that might be available. Large portions of green salads with vinegar, veggie sticks with low-fat dips, or grilled vegetables of all kinds can be enjoyed without guilt and will actually help make you feel full and nourished before you eat anything else.
Always be sure to have some lean protein
Studies show that gram for gram, lean proteins help you to feel fuller than carbohydrates or fats – so be sure to enjoy a healthy portion of whatever’s grilling. Enjoy a lean beef, turkey or chicken burger, a piece of grilled chicken or fish, or some tofu. Aim for about three to four ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
Beware of starchy carbohydrates
The majority of starchy carbohydrate dishes you find at picnics and barbecues tend to be high in both carbohydrates and calories, as most of them contain high-fat dressings. Potato, pasta and bean salads are the main culprits. Although it’s best to avoid them, if you simply can’t resist the temptation, try to keep portion sizes relatively small (less than a third of a cup).
“Prioritize” your favorite foods
If you’re dying for a big cheeseburger, get in line at the grill. Skip the bun and stick with a green salad or grilled vegetables and fruit as sides. Not so big on burgers? Go for grilled chicken, fish or tofu on top of greens and spend that starch serving on a small scoop of the creamy potato salad you truly love. Does dessert look irresistible? Dig in. Just make room for it first. Have a piece of lean protein (chicken, fish), and some grilled vegetables for your main meal so that you can indulge in a little treat without feeling guilty. And don’t forget to keep your portions small!
Stick to a healthy dessert
Try to replace the sugar-filled cookies, cupcakes and ice cream with fresh seasonal fruit like berries and melons. Cut up fresh fruit regularly and store it in the fridge for the perfect snack to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Making sure you stay hydrated during the summer months is especially crucial, but be sure to properly quench your thirst with water rather than juice, soda pop or alcohol. If you’re looking for some fun and easy ways to enjoy your water this summer, ask your Health Coach about our delicious “U-Mocktail” recipes!
When dinner is done, get your move on!
Play some ball with the kids, get out a Frisbee for some fun action, or rally the adults to play bocce or horseshoes. No need to go for a run or to take post-dinner exercise too seriously. It’s all about having fun and burning off some extra calories – not to mention keeping busy and away from the food!