Fruit: nature’s homemade, delicious go-to in the health department. Does it have any flaws? The answer is both yes, and no. These natural beauties are more abundant during the summer time than anything else, and it’s easy to get caught up in their vibrant colors and promises of nutritious goodness. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sprinting to your local Farmer’s Market, scooping up a basket of blueberries, and gobbling them down—well, maybe wash them first, but the principle stands: Fruit is good for you; some moderation required.
Unfortunately, it is possible to eat too much fruit. Here are some helpful rules to follow when it comes to your fruit intake this summer, and every month that follows.
1. Don’t Supersize Your Produce
Like most things in America, the average apple size has doubled, possibly even tripled in the last few years. Genetically modified fruits can grow to Hulk-ian proportions, which means that the next time you go to pick up a piece of fruit, you may be consuming about twice as much sugar, calories, and nutrients as you actually need. Instead of grabbing the first piece of supersized fruit you can lay your hands on in the produce section, be on the lookout for smaller, healthier options. Often, the best place to find these is at your local Famer's Market or health food store.
2. Cut Down on the Sweetest Stuff
There’s a reason some fruits taste sweeter than others—it’s because they are. Your average grape or banana is packed with sugar and thus extra calories. While eating these fruits certainly isn’t as bad as drinking a can of soda, they’re still not exactly weight loss weapons. Try replacing these fruits with something a little less sugar packed. Better choices include pears, strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon, all of which have a lower glycemic load, a measure of how strongly a food impacts your blood sugar.
3. Pair Your Fruit With Protein
The fiber in fruit helps regulate your body’s absorption of the sugar so your energy levels don’t spike and crash. However, adding in some fat and protein can help round out your nutritional intake and regulate your body’s energy levels even more. Try pairing your fruit servings with 8 almonds, a low-fat yogurt, or 2 pieces of low-sodium jerky.
4. Beware of Smoothies
If you’re using one of my smoothie recipes, you shouldn’t need to worry about the amount of fruit in your drink. However, if you’re ordering out or making your own, there’s a chance your drink could contain as much as three, four, even five times the amount of a healthy serving of fruit. Smoothie restaurants are particularly sneaky culprits. The moral of this story is to check the fruit serving size in each of your drinks and take that into account for the day. Don’t drink something that holds four servings of fruit crammed into 16 ounces. Trust me, you don’t need it.
5. Stop at Two
This is your easy, simple, golden rule: Stop at two servings of fruit. I know we’re all used eating big when it comes to fruit, but you really don’t need the sugar, calories, and vitamins from more than two servings a day. If you're eating the right amounts of your other healthy food groups and hydrating fully, you'll already be full.
You’re going on a summer vacation. Good for you! This bubble of warmth and sunshine during the summer months is the perfect time for that exciting getaway you’ve been planning. This trip is your chance to relax, reconnect with family members, and indulge in all the activities you love, and none of the ones you don’t. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind.
Although 36 percent of people try to lose weight before they go on vacation, a third of all travelers find they have to start a healthy eating plan when they return, according to a study by TripAdvisor. Another third of those surveyed said that they always or often gain weight while traveling.
While eating healthy and staying active during vacations may be a struggle for most Americans, you’ll have a leg up when it comes to the challenge. This is your strategy for a healthy, happy, altogether rejuvenating vacation!
Step 1: Destination Matters
While it’s possible to be active and healthy wherever you go, it’s easier some places than others. Be sure to scope out your destination for fun, fitness oriented activities. These could be anything from a morning run on the beach, to a swim, to a spirited round of tennis with your traveling companions. Wherever you’re headed, there will be opportunities to fit in workouts. If you can make those workouts part of the fun activities you have planned for the day, even better. The important thing is to have a plan and to know your options.
Step 2: Prep with the Essentials
Wherever you’re off to, there are a few supplies that come part and parcel with healthy traveling. You know this, but it bears reiteration: Apply sunscreen, often! Not only will it save you from serious skin damage and complications down the road, it will also improve your vacation. Nothing ruins fun in the sun like a sunburn. These fiery red reminders of a day on the beach can often make you feel sluggish and unmotivated for your workouts.
Bring water. Where are you going? It doesn’t matter. Just bring water. Staying hydrated is part of being healthy and will also make you less likely to overeat or compulsively snack. So pack a water bottle, fill it up, and slap it in a super lame hip holster—do whatever it takes to keep it with you.
If you can bring food with you or make your way to a grocery store during your trip, do that. Buy fruits, vegetables, fat-free yogurts, and lunchmeat. Store anything that will provide you and your loved ones with a healthy alternative to the baskets of fries and all-you-can-eat-buffets you’re likely to encounter during your trip.
Step 3: Indulge Without The Guilt
Vacations are about doing the things we don’t usually allow ourselves to do. Every other day of the year, you stick to a routine. You head to the office instead of calling in sick. You try to eat healthy and you make time for your workouts. So, when you hop off the plane and into your very own alternate universe, one where your only worry has something to do with what time the hotel stops serving breakfast, it can be tempting to let everything go by the wayside. It’s tempting…but don’t. You want to feel good during this vacation and you want to continue to feel good after you get back. Neither will happen if you spend the week eating like you’re Katniss Everdeen gearing up for the Hunger Games.
Instead, make a decision ahead of time about what you’ll allow yourself to indulge in. Want fluffy pancakes drizzled with blueberry syrup for breakfast? All right, have them. They sound delicious! But spend the rest of the day making lean, healthy choices. Beware of the buffet, avoid drinking your calories, and make sure your workout schedule is set.
The most important advice I can offer to help you stay on track while traveling is this: Make your health a priority. Just thinking about the strategies you’ll use to stay fit and healthy during your vacation can be a large contributor to success. You’ve just read an entire article about doing just that, so you’re moving in the right direction! Spend a little more time before you leave crafting a foolproof plan for your vacation that includes your workouts and your eating. Once you’ve done that, sit back and enjoy the ride. Let your vacation rejuvenate you, inspire new goals, and be an opportunity to try something new!
So you’ve been invited to a cookout, or maybe you’re hosting one? The summer months can be full of these backyard grill-out extravaganzas, and when you’re trying to eat healthy, that can be a problem. Cookouts bring to mind fat-heavy foods like hotdogs, chips, potato salads, and barbeque, all of which can wreak havoc on your heart, and your waistline.
It may seem impossible to make healthy choices at these get-togethers, but you really can join in the flavor and the fun without blowing your eating plan. Here’s your step-by-step guide to making it through the summer cookout season with your health, and your waistline, in check!
Step 1 – Never Go Hungry Again!
The problem: When the promise of free, splurge-worthy food is on the table, it can be tempting to ditch your own meal preparation and rely on the dishes provided by the host. As a result, many people make the mistake of showing up to a cookout with an empty stomach and an appetite that’s ready to go! I guess you can get away with that as long as you’re Scarlett O’Hara laced up in your corset!
The solution: To avoid an all out bender, eat a light, fiber and protein filled snack before you leave for the cookout. Try a small salad with grilled chicken, or a plain yogurt with a piece of fruit. These foods will keep you from feeling ravenous and will make resisting temptation that much easier. You want to leave the cookout feeling happy, not regretful.
Step 2 – Go Easy on the Pepsi!
The problem: Okay, maybe I don’t mean the Pepsi specifically, but go easy on the drinks! Liquid calories are the sly culprit that can ruin healthy eating without so much as batting an eyelash.
The solution: Drink at least two big glasses of water before you head to the cookout. You’ll be hydrated, fuller, and much less likely to indulge in empty calories like soda and cocktails. If you’ve budgeted for one drink in your food plan for the day, have it. Enjoy it! But don’t just guzzle one Margarita after the next. Grab your water bottle and beat the heat in style. Your head will thank you the next morning, and so will your waist.
Step 3 – Life is Like a Cookout…
The problem: You never know what you’re going to get! Leaving your meal plans entirely in the hands of someone else can be risky business. Luckily, you have a few options when it comes to taking some mystery out of the eating equation.
The solution: Many cookouts are potluck. Offer to bring a healthy dish of your own to contribute to the party. Bring a dynamite seasonal salad, a vegetable tray, or some grilled meat and you’ll not only be a great guest, but a healthy eater too! If bringing your own dish isn’t an option, speak up. Ask your host to stock healthy choices like grilled chicken or fish, veggie burgers, fruit, and plenty of greens. You might be surprised by how open they are to stepping outside the box.
Step 4 – Know Your Friends
The problem: Some foods are pretty obviously unhealthy. It doesn’t take an expert to look at a bratwurst or a pan of macaroni and decide that those items don’t constitute lean eating. But when you don’t know exactly what went into your meal options, sometimes the fat and calorie content can sneak up on you.
The solution: Know how to cut corners and find your healthy options. Ditch that white flour bun and eat your hamburger patty a la carte. Steer clear of sauce heavy foods and heavy dressings. Instead, fill your plate with seasonal fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Watermelon, for example, can be a tasty summer treat that keeps you full and hydrated!
The bottom line is, you should go in with a plan. Fortune favors the prepared, and your summer cookout is no exception. Follow my 4 simple steps above and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying these backyard get-togethers while continuing to preserve your good health. Remember, these events aren’t about the food; they’re about the people. Socialize, laugh, enjoy the beautiful outdoors and do something active! Above all else, soak up the happiness that pervades these warm summer months. I’ll be doing the same.