Summer is an amazing time of year in Canada. We suffer through months of cold weather, and truly enjoy every minute of it.
That being said, summertime brings with it a lot of temptation (BBQs, cocktails & appies) that can catch up with you if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to stay slim this summer (& the rest of the year!).
This is one of the most important tips to maintaining & losing weight. Most of us eat way more than we need to. Eating too much not only causes weight gain, but also is really hard on our digestive systems. Our bodies weren’t designed to handle that much food! Healthy digestion is the key to health.
Quick portions guide:
Eat like a rabbit: ½ your plate should be veggies – veggies are high in fiber and fill you up without consuming a lot of calories. In the world of Weight Watchers veggies = 0 points. Eat raw veggies for snacks & more vegetarian meals!
¼ plate = lean protein (size of your palm)
¼ plate = whole grain or healthy carb, ie. quinoa or sweet potatoes (1 fist-size)
Slow down & enjoy
This goes hand in hand with healthy portions. The first thing you’re going to think when you cut back on portions: that’s not enough food – I’m still going to be hungry. SLOW DOWN. It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain that there’s food in it.
Having trouble slowing down? Put your cutlery down between bites, and chew each bite 10-20x. This technique will help you eat less & still feel satisfied, and allow you to enjoy the food that you’ve worked hard to prepare.
It’s also SO IMPORTANT for healthy digestion. A lot of the digestion process starts in your mouth. Your saliva secretes important enzymes that help break down food; this cuts back on the work that your stomach & pancreas have to do.
Plan your meals for the week
Every Saturday or Sunday I sit down at my computer, go through my recipes, and plan my meals for the week. I than look at the recipes, look in my cupboards, and make my grocery list. Staying organized and going into the week with a plan will help control your weight. If you have the ingredients already, you’re more likely to cook the planned meal vs. grab something quick, which usually means unhealthy.
Always make double
Now that you have a meal plan for the week, make double portions of your healthy dinners. Making a salad for dinner? Put your lunch container next to your salad bowl, and make your lunch salad at the same time. Healthy dinners = healthy leftover lunches! It’s quick, easy & will prevent you from buying something unhealthy for lunch. You’ll also save money – the average Canadian buys their lunch 3x/week, which = $5000 on lunch in 5 years!
Keep a food journal and record everything you eat & drink. It makes you think twice before grabbing that 2nd dessert. Food journaling may also help you identify your times of weakness – ie. bag of chips at 3pm everyday. Now you can go in prepared – combat the 3pm snack cravings by keeping healthy snacks at your desk (ie. fruit & almonds).
Start your day with breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day because it gets your metabolism going. You start burning carbs & fat for energy right away. You also won’t be ravenous at lunch, and end up overeating. My Homemade Cereal recipe is a great choice – a perfect combination of whole grains, protein, fiber, fruit & healthy fats. It will keep you satisfied until lunch.
Eat all the time
When I was working everyone always used to say to me: you’re always eating! I would have breakfast, fruit & veggies for morning & afternoon snacks, lunch (healthy leftovers!), & dinner (5-6 little meals). Eating like this allows you to control your hunger & keep your metabolism going. You should never let yourself become ravenous or stuffed. And remember: eat like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch & a pauper for dinner!
Do something active everyday, and aim to do something that raises your heart rate for 30 minutes, at least 3x per week. Don’t let the idea of exercise scare you – action combats fear. I used to be scared of the idea of jogging. I just never saw myself as a runner. I started by simply walking for 3 minutes, and running for 2 minutes, and eventually was able to run for the total 30 minutes!
You may be thirsty, not hungry
Sometimes when you feel hungry it may actually mean that you’re thirsty. If you feel a hunger pain in the afternoon, drink a big glass of water to help you identify whether it’s hunger or thirst. You should be drinking water throughout the day: upon wakening, with breakfast, between meals, and throughout the evening. Aim for 6-8 glasses per day. My husband thinks I’m addicted to water. I rarely leave the house without my 18 oz Klean Kanteen full of water!
Studies show that people who ate their meals between 12-hour periods weighed less than those that ate for longer than 12 hours. For example, if you eat breakfast at 8:00am, your last meal of the day should be finished by 8:00pm.
Eating fat makes you fat
What a concept! Cut way back on your intake of butter, margarine, fried foods, fast foods, fatty meats (beef, lamb, pork), burgers, bacon, cheese, baked goods, puddings, & chocolate. Choose lean protein (chicken w/o skin, fish), eat more vegetarian meals (whole grains + legumes) and choose healthy fats such as nuts & seeds, extra virgin olive oil & avocado.
Watch the drinks this summer. The calories in alcohol & sugary mixes can add up quickly and our bodies don’t register liquid calories the same way as food calories. When we eat calories from food we become full, but liquid calories don’t have the same effect. Also, when we drink alcohol it’s the first thing our body uses as fuel, which means we’re not burning any carbs or fat for energy. The result? Beer belly.
A big table of appetizers is so tempting, especially when you’ve had a drink & your defenses are down. Most appetizers are high in calories & fat, and can really add up if you’re having them every weekend. Pick your favs and only fill a little plate or napkin once. Avoid excess calories & spoiling your dinner – hunger is the best spice!