Looking for new, simple ways to shape up your eating habits without starving yourself? With summer in full swing, why not take advantage of the season’s great fruit and vegetable selections? TODAY nutritionist and diet editor Joy Bauer shares easy tips to shed excess weight and recommends refreshing, low-calorie foods and recipes that are perfect for summer:
Consider the buddy system
Some people do better if they have a friend, spouse, therapist, someone they can talk to about successes or setbacks. Ideally, this person is nonjudgmental and unconditionally supportive. If you thrive with a little help from your friends, go ahead and ask for their help and guidance.
Slow your eating
Taste your food. Savor the texture. Put your fork down between every two bites and sip water during your meal.
Keep sugarless gum always on hand
Sugarless gum can give you a hit of something sweet, keep your mouth busy (so you’ll be less likely to snack) and clean your teeth when you can’t brush.
Shock your tongue
Be liberal with spices — chile peppers, curry, hot salsa, wasabi. Hot and spicy flavors encourage slower eating. Hot (temperature-wise), low-calorie beverages can also help you feel satisfied and hydrated. When you’re bored, it’s possible to nurse a hot cup of skim latte, green or herbal tea or diet hot cocoa for much longer than it would take to eat a snack.
Get enough sleep
During sleep, our bodies rest and regenerate, so we can be strong and clearheaded the following day — clearheaded enough to make wise food choices. What’s more, sleep deprivation causes an imbalance in certain hormones, including ghrelin (which causes weight gain) and leptin (which decreases appetite). When we don’t get enough sleep, our levels of ghrelin go up (more weight gain) and levels of leptin go down (so we are hungrier). Don’t think of it as downtime, but as another important facet of your nutrition plan.
Donate your “fat clothes”
Losing weight is a major accomplishment. As soon as an item of clothing is too big for you anymore, give it away. Don’t keep it in your closet as part of your “just in case” wardrobe. It is easier to backslide if you have bigger pants to slide into.
The best foods for weight loss in summer are light, refreshing, low in calories and filled with water. Enjoy my top six picks:
Try my Gazpacho and Cucumber-Dill recipes. Research shows that a low-calorie, broth-based soup at the beginning of a meal will fill you so you eat less at the meal.
Watermelon is comprised of 50 percent water ... and it’s only 80 calories for an entire cup —plus, it’s loaded with vitamin C.
A tasty low-calorie salad leaves you full and satisfied for hours. For the perfect recipe, mix unlimited vegetables with lean protein (e.g., grilled chicken, tofu, shrimp, or egg whites) and a scoop of beans. Toss with low-calorie dressing and dig in!
Take advantage of your grill and load on onions, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, eggplant and asparagus. For the easiest marinade ever, spray with nonstick cooking oil and lightly toss with sea salt.
Unsweetened iced tea
Whether you choose black or green, tea is calorie free and full of phytonutrients. Make a large batch and slice in fresh fruit for a festive shot of natural sweetness.
Enjoy low-calorie, naturally sweet desserts.
- Frozen purple/red grapes
- Frozen bananas
- Fresh berries with reduced-fat whipped cream
- Grilled pineapple
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Joy Bauer is the author of “Food Cures.”
For more information on healthy eating, check out Joy’s Web site at www.joybauernutrition.com.