Food & Fitness: Top 10 Tips to Stay Healthy All Summer
- Drink water. It is very easy to get dehydrated during hot and dry summer days. Nothing refreshes your body like water. Not only is it the perfect zero calorie drink, but by drinking water instead of soda you will cut down on your sugar consumption. Be sure to keep a water bottle handy as you go about your day.
- Get active during your lunch hour. Walking 15-30 minutes during your lunch hour 3-5 times a week can make a difference. Ask a co-worker to join you and you’ll be able to socialize and exercise during the day. Have errands to run during lunch? Walk to complete them or park further from the store to increase the number of steps it will take to get inside.
- Use smaller plates. At a picnic or BBQ, use salad sized plates instead of dinner sized plates. By filling up a smaller plate, you can still eat what’s being served, but will be more likely to eat moderate amounts of each item. Chances are you’ll still feel full and you’ll cut calories without even realizing it, because you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. This is also a helpful tip when eating at buffets and something to keep in mind if you find yourself at a party with endless choices placed in front of you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and politely refuse certain dishes. Remember that you do not have to eat everything that is offered to you!
- Make substitutions on the grill. The staples of any summer barbeque may be hot dogs and hamburgers, but there are many other choices. Marinated chicken breasts, halibut, scallops and shrimp can be delicious low-fat grilling alternatives. If you are really craving a hamburger, aim for a leaner cut of beef or skip the cheese. Click here for a delicious, easy and healthy BBQ pineapple chicken recipe that you can try.
- Pack snacks ahead of time. Instead of ordering fast food on the go (which is usually high in sodium and can get expensive), pack snacks ahead of time that don’t need refrigeration, such as nuts, “no added-sugar” granola bars, and popcorn. If you use measuring cups you can pre-measure serving sizes into plastic bags that will easily fit into a purse or carry-on. You will save money by not eating out, and save calories by controlling your portions. If you have access to refrigeration, consider measuring out servings of easy to eat fruits and vegetables such as grapes, baby carrots, or pre-cut celery. The fiber and water in fruits and vegetables will help you to feel full longer, and they are a great alternative to most snacks that you would find in a vending machine.
- Take advantage of the outdoors. Depending on where you live there may be parks, bike paths, pools or walking paths to enjoy! Riding a bike is a good way to get exercise without putting a lot of strain on your bones and joints because it is low impact. Swimming is also a low impact form of exercise. Many municipal or city government websites have ways to look up where the nearest pool or park is located near you. If you don’t have access to a computer, call your local park district or park and recreation department for more information. Many cities also offer opportunities to rent a bike if you don’t own one and bikes are often a popular item for sale at garage sales. Join the National Kidney Foundation at an upcoming Kidney Walk! Click this to see a video about how you can make a difference and exercise outdoors with the National Kidney Foundation.
- Wait before having seconds. Waiting 30 minutes before getting seconds at your next family reunion will give your body time to digest and to register if you are full. If you decide you still want seconds, you will be more likely to eat less because you will have waited for your body to signal cues of “fullness”.
- Accessorize properly. Instead of purchasing the deli-style potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw, make your own versions of these favorites using low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise for the base. Top your traditional summer salads with heart-healthy walnuts, almonds, or dried fruit for added crunch. Cranberries, cherries, raisins and apricots are also delicious and healthy additions. Skip the chips and bring fruits and vegetables as snacks to a summer cookout for a much healthier result. Instead of using canned vegetables, which are high in sodium and other preservatives, buy fresh produce when possible.
- Write down your exercise goals. Log the number of minutes that you are active each day in a calendar or journal. Start small and work to increase your exercise goals once you have established a routine. People are more likely to stick with an exercise routine if they set realistic goals because the exercise feels more manageable.
- When dining out, watch portions. Ask for half of your entrée to be packed in a to-go box before it’s served or split an entrée with a friend. Restaurant portions are typically at least twice the size of a normal serving size. If you ask for it to be packed up before it is placed in front of you, you will feel less tempted to finish everything that is on your plate even if you feel full. As a bonus, you will then have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Monitoring portion sizes also helps to cut back on your sodium and overall caloric intake for the day.
*Before making any dietary or exercise changes, be sure to consult with a physician for individualized recommendations.