Spring is here with warmer days reminding us that summer is just around the corner with vacations and fun times outdoors. But as so often happens, a few extra pound have crept on over the cold winter months and we’re looking for ways to shed them before swimsuit season. Instead of turning to the latest fad, fast or detox plan, why not try some sensible strategies to help slim down for summer and keep the weight off for good?
Mom always said it was the most important meal of the day and science confirms this. People who eat breakfast are not only more physically and mentally alert but also eat less the rest of the day. Choose a balanced breakfast with whole grains, fruit and lean protein: scrambled eggs, whole-grain toast and a banana or light Greek yogurt, frozen berries and whole grain cereal.
Protein is key to building and maintaining all the body tissues – bones, muscles, and organs – but new studies attest to its value in promoting satiety, or the feeling of satisfaction and fullness, after eating and keeps you from reaching for a snack an hour or two later. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, beans, soy and nuts.
Like protein, fiber has a filling effect; particularly the soluble fiber found in dry peas and beans, oats, apples, pears, strawberries, cucumbers and carrots. Fiber-filled foods such as crunchy whole grain bread, cereal and pasta require more chewing and provide a texture that makes eating more pleasurable and satisfying.
Sometimes when you feel hungry you may actually just be thirsty. That’s because the thirst and hunger centers are near each other in the brain so people can mistake thirst for hunger. So drink up but be sure to stick with low and no-calorie beverages like diet soda, light lemonade, iced tea with a sugar substitute or water.
It’s not always the foods you are eating but the amount that causes weight gain. You can still enjoy some of your favorites but in smaller portions. For instance, choose a kids meal vs. a large burger and fries at a quick service restaurant, opt for two slices of pizza and a side salad instead of the whole pizza and a half-cup of pasta rather than a cup.
These five diet tricks, along with regular exercise, will help you slim down for summer before you can say “bikini!”
Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Dallas. She serves as a nutrition communications consultant to a variety of food and nutrition organizations, including the Calorie Control Council. She is passionate about promoting fact-based food and nutrition information to help people enjoy nutritious eating. Follow her on Twitter @NevaRDLD and check out her blog at www.NevaCochranRD.com.