Keep Your Diet on Track this Summer

Summer is here.  Farmers Markets are brimming with the ingredients for ratatouille, succotash and bitter green salads.  Some eagerly await their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares to find out what that week’s harvest will bring to the dinner table. Despite the availability of low-calorie, nutrient rich fresh produce this time of year, “eating in season” can also mean barbeques, graduation parties and eating while on vacations.  With strategies and planning you can enjoy this time of year while maintaining your health and weight goals.



Barbeque faire ranges from simple hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad to a more sophisticated menu of barbeque ribs, smoked pork, antipasto pasta salads or macaroni cheese.  Whether you are a guest or hosting your own gathering consider how to balance the menu by providing healthy options to serve along with crowd favorites that everyone can enjoy.  Offer to bring an appetizer, side dish or fruit salad for dessert. Crudités with hummus are a filling, high-fiber appetizer. A diet high in fiber is associated with a lower weight.  Light grain salads such as tabouli or a quinoa salad compliment a calorie dense main course and are satisfying alternatives to potato and macaroni salad.


Road trips or Day Out.

Planning is the key to eating well on the go.  Have snacks available when hunger strikes to prevent relying on high-fat, calorie dense fast food.  Invest in an insulated cooler bag if you do not have one and store it where it is readily available.  Prepare for a day out by portioning nuts (1-oz or ¼ cup) and cut up fruit and vegetables into snack bags.  You can add yogurt, string cheese or hummus to your cooler bag. Individual 100-calorie snack packs are quick snack alternatives.  While packaged foods are convenient, the small portion may not be as satisfying as a fresh alternative such as a whole piece of fruit with nuts.



One of the biggest vacation eating traps is having three large restaurant or fast food meals a day.  Plan to have one moderate size restaurant meal and two smaller meals a day to reduce your daily calories while also saving money.  Complimentary hotel breakfasts can have limited healthy options. Try a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter and a banana or yogurt for a light breakfast.  If you are in the mood for a hot meal, have scrambled eggs with one slice of toast and a piece of fruit. Pack shelf-stable snacks before you go (pre-portioned nuts, 100-calorie snack packs of low-sodium turkey jerky) to have throughout the day.  For lunch, grab a small sandwich with grilled chicken or sliced turkey for lunch.  Or, get an appetizer and small salad. Skip the side of French fries or chips.


What about frozen treats?  

The warmer weather often brings with it cravings for ice cream or iced-coffee drinks.  Enjoy cold treats with less sugar and saturated fat by making fruit smoothies, frozen fruit bars or banana “ice cream”.  Cold treats that seem healthy can be high in calories and sugar. An 18-oz Acai bowl contains 370 calories and 43 grams of sugar and a 16-oz Caramel Macchiato contains 240 calories and 15 grams of sugar.  Watch the portion sizes and additives. A good rule of thumb is to establish the habit of getting a small or even a child’s size.

Be Active.   According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity exercise a week to achieve substantial health benefits.  Take advantage of the warm weather and increase your daily exercise with outside activities to achieve even greater results.  Walk your dog longer, play sports or bike ride with the kids to get exercise while spending time with others. You’ll also get more vitamin D!


Nick VanMeter