Even though the weather hasn't caught up with the calendar yet, it's time to get ahead of the game and prepare for summer holidays. I don't mean hosting parties, I mean planning to succeed while eating clean. Memorial Day is coming up and, unfortunately, barbecue and beer is the first thought that follows. While celebrating our freedom and remembering those lost in battle, stay on track with exercising and eating healthy.
As soon as it gets warm, ice cream, margaritas, and hot dogs sound much more appealing than cooking nutritious food in a hot kitchen. My mom rarely cooks in the summer, unless it's on Sunday, and she shops for cold cuts and pasta salads, which are convenient. However, cold cuts have a lot of sodium and bloat you up, leaving fingers and toes swollen. If that's your only choice, make sure to frequently drink water. Fruit and vegetables can be eaten cold, too, so constantly snacking on fresh produce will keep you fuller longer.
Chances are, when you think you're hungry, you're really thirsty, which is why I reflected on the importance of drinking enough water in a previous column. Some general rules of thumb from Active.com include biking instead of driving, go hiking by researching trails on Trimbleoutdoors.com, and make healthy popsicles with fruit, yogurt and milk.
For alcoholic beverages, stick with hydrating recipes with little sugar. Shape.com has a list of skinny summer drinks so you don't have to sacrifice your liquid courage for a flat stomach. A watermelon fizz is 100 calories and consists of tequila, watermelon, simple syrup, soda water, cilantro, lime and a bamboo spike. Adapt to your liking, of course. Better yet, opt to be the designated driver if there's multiple summer cook-outs, to avoid the temptation to drink.
The next challenge is barbecue food. If you're attending a friend's house for a cook-out, it may be smart to bring your own snacks or eat prior to the event. If you fill up first, you might be less tempted to snack later, unless there is a veggie platter, then just watch the amount of dressing used. But, if you don't want to eat before, just be smart about what you take at the event, meaning, lose the bun on the hotdog, and consume a majority of vegetables.
This is not to label different foods good or bad, but in the long run, picking and choosing will help maintain your waistline. On the contrary, if you're macronutrient counter, eat clean all day and save the carbohydrates for the cook-out. Everyone has their own way of watching what they eat, but there's always adjustments that can be made to make a healthy lifestyle better. If the cook-out allows kids, there's the opportunity for exercise to chase kiddos around or participate in yard games. Or, if the event is nearby, walk to it to get some extra steps in.
Some people work all winter for a summer body just to lose it during various social functions, but others dedicate the summer as a time to lose weight. Instead of deciding on a season to get in shape, be in shape all the time by keeping smart about food and exercise options.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.