Summer is finally upon us and time-honored traditions such as trips to the beach, baseball games, graduation parties, and picnics are in full swing. This can mean fun, sun, and food - and often times, lots of it. How can summer go-getters stay fit and avoid the common traps of overeating?According to TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, it's all about gaining your independence from too much food and drink. Sparkle as bright as the Fourth of July fireworks by following the 10 simple, yet effective tips below to manage your eating habits for a season without regret. Red, White, and Budgeting - Overeating can be discouraging to wellness efforts, especially when you have to make an appearance at the beach the next day. One of the best ways to avoid overindulgence is to budget your caloric intake. Allow a bit of wiggle room by eating lighter meals before the festivities so that you can enjoy a few of your favorite treats later on. Sense and Sensibility - Hot dogs, bratwurst, potato salad, sweets, and cocktails are summer staples, and they can be enjoyed in moderation. Be sensible about meal choices. For example, a hot dog with a side salad and chocolate chip cookie will allow you to indulge but not overdo it with empty calories. Dress It Up - A great way to gain your independence from overeating is to fill up on healthy calories. During the summer months, fresh fruits and vegetables are far more abundant in grocery stores and at farmers' markets. Dress up your salad, sandwich, or just your plate with fruit and vegetables. Healthy cooking options include grilling, steaming, drying, or simply enjoying raw. Beware of Liquid Calories - A cocktail or two certainly won't put you over the edge, but remember that alcoholic beverages, as well as sodas, juices, and smoothies, may contain excess calories. Liquid calories can sneak up on a person's calorie budget quickly. Alcoholic beverages also impair your judgment, which can often lead to overeating. Stick to water with a hint of lemon or try a calorie-free sparkling water. Snack Time - Going to a party, picnic, or festival on an empty stomach can often lead to overindulgence. Make smart food decisions before, during, and after your time out on the town by choosing high-fiber foods like apples, whole grains, and nuts to keep you full for hours. Don't Go It Alone - Enlist the help of a family member or friend to take the journey towards food independence with you. The support of another person can provide motivation and inspiration that you may not be able to find on your own. Connect with others who are also seeking to improve their wellness by joining a local chapter of TOPS. Visit www.tops.org for more information and to find a location near you. Shake It Up - The summer months are ideal for taking your fitness routine outdoors. Burning off extra calories can be easy and does not necessarily have to involve indoor gym time. Everything from gardening to a round of golf is good for your body. Anytime you get your body in motion, you burn calories and refresh and energize yourself for hours to come, helping you to make better dietary decisions. Savor the Flavor - Remember the hot dog and chocolate chip cookie referenced earlier? Will you even remember how it tasted once you've eaten it? Take time to enjoy your food, and by doing so, you will make your meals more relaxing and will likely avoid overeating. Hold the Sauce - Sauces, dressings, and other condiments, especially those at parties or gatherings, are typically full-fat and high calorie. They can easily add hundreds of calories most eaters overlook entirely. Consider bringing your own dressing from home or using a minimal amount of the dressing provided at the gathering. Trick Yourself - Studies have shown that individuals who use small serving plates and glasses tend to eat and drink less than those who use larger serving ware. Smaller serving plates force you to take less food at one time - a simple trick that works! Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.
********** Published: July 1, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 11