Enjoy Summer Festivities without Packing on the Pounds
Healthy alternatives, seasonal produce and smart snacking ward off weight gain
Many people work hard throughout the spring to eat healthy, exercise and shed pounds before summer. But as bathing suit season kicks into full gear, even the most disciplined can lose sight of their focus due to the sweet and savory temptations that are plentiful at family barbecues, ballgames and festivals. While the urge to indulge may prevail over good nutrition from time to time, dieticians say moderation is key and offer tips for enjoying the season without packing on the pounds.
“Summertime fun can often lead to weight gain if you’re not careful,” says Hannah El-Amin, RD, Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness. “Small changes can have a powerful impact on your health and will allow you to enjoy the tastes of the season without the guilt.” El-Amin recommends simple modifications to maintain good nutrition and avoid weight gain this summer.
Choose Healthy Alternatives:
• At the ballpark – Choose low calorie treats such as frozen yogurt, unsalted peanuts, or a grilled veggie burger. If you’re looking for more traditional ballpark eats, opt for a hot dog or even a bison hot dog, which contains less fat than sausage or hamburgers, and skip the fries. If possible, bring water with you. This will not only save you money, but also offer a healthy way to hydrate as opposed to nutrient void sodas. Finally, eat a snack or meal before the game. An empty stomach around stadium fare can quickly lead to poor nutritional choices.
• At barbeques – When lighting up the grill this summer, consider healthy options that are low in fat and calories. Try grilling chicken, turkey burgers, salmon burgers or even veggie burgers for the same delicious taste of a barbeque, with far less fat and calories. Fish and vegetable kabobs are also great alternatives to sausage or red meat.
• At festivals – Don’t let the sweet smell of cakes, cookies and candy lure you in to making unhealthy choices at festivals. Most of the food offered is high in calories, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge a little. Consider splitting these higher calorie foods with a few friends, and try to work in some extra walking. Or, even better, choose lower calorie options such as frozen yogurt, baked potato, or lemon ice.
El-Amin also recommends taking advantage of the abundance of fresh produce available during the summer months.
“Whether from your backyard garden or the local farmer’s market, fruits and vegetables are plentiful in the summer and a great way to enjoy the outdoors while picking up healthy snacks and meals for the whole family,” says El-Amin. “Introduce your family to a vegetable you’ve never tried before and enjoy a new recipe.”
Planning ahead can also help keep you on track. Stock your refrigerator with healthy items and have plenty of portable snacks on hand too. El-Amin recommends low-fat cheese, yogurt and almonds which can easily be packed to go.
For more information on nutrition or services offered at the Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness, visit nmg.nm.org or call (312) 926-3627 (DOCS.)