When I think of summertime, it usually makes my stomach growl. There are the smoke barbecues with grilled meats, sweet corn and juicy watermelon. The strolls down the boardwalk, the smells of caramel popcorn and pizza wafting in the air, while waves crash on the beach. Ending each night with a dripping ice cream cone.
Summer is all about carefree time spent with family and friends, and most of those social settings include some of those indulgent foods. The downside? Unexpected weight gain. According to a recent study by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children are more likely to gain weight during the summer months.
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The advice I offer to all my clients is to avoid crash diets, especially chasing #beachbody goals, and embrace mindful eating to prevent loosening the belt. Balance and moderation are key.
Here are my tips on how to approach eating mindfully and healthfully from the boardwalk, a place my own family spends many weekends in the summertime, to the beach, to all those al fresco cookouts.
Talk about temptations. Every outlet down the boardwalk has a different food sampler offering you pieces of fudge, water ice, gelato, popcorn and pastries. Recently, I decided to taste all of the treats with my family, and to my surprise, those samples actually satisfied my cravings.
How? I made sure I tried these foods after I ate a balanced meal; that way I wouldn’t be starving. Another tip: eat a little less at dinner to plan for these treats. If you want gelato or ice cream, order a small size or split one with a friend. You will be surprised that the small size is much bigger than you thought.
Other easy, healthful choices you can try are getting the veggie slice of pizza instead of pepperoni, or opting for baked/grilled fish instead of fried. Slow down and savor the flavors of your food.
When it comes to the crave-able, creamy fudge, I created a recipe for a healthier version with my twins. This quick and easy “better-than-the-boardwalk” fudge recipe (at the bottom of this column) will not only save you calories, but save you money!
Don’t forget to walk those boards. I bet you can get to 10,000 steps real quick.
Save all your indulgences for the boardwalk and pack high-fiber, high-protein lunches and snacks for picnics on the sand. Think fresh fruits, veggies, Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese, and turkey or nut butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread. These foods will keep you feeling full while giving you energy to participate in all those beach activities.
Ride the waves, play beach volleyball, throw a Frisbee, build sand castles, hunt for beautiful shells on the shore or just take a stroll by the crashing waves. These are all fun ways to keep active.
BARBECUES AND COOKOUTS
Summertime is all about cookouts. According to a survey out of Britain from Weight Watchers, the average Brit eats about 3,200 calories at a barbecue. That sounds more like the calories consumed at a Thanksgiving meal! Look out for high-calorie foods such as mayo-based macaroni and potato salads, hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, and chips and dip, plus all those desserts. These events can go for hours with mindless grazing all day.
Don’t turn down invitations for fear of overindulging, just don’t show up starving or skip meals in advance, which never works and often leads to overeating. Instead, choose those indulgent foods but make smart choices like a bun-less burger (save the carbs for dessert!) and use smaller plates so your portions look bigger. Plan ahead and bring a healthier side that you can enjoy. Most importantly, socialize with your family and friends.
Summer is only three short months. Mindful, balanced eating is a lifestyle, not a diet. Remember moderation is key and view food as something to fuel your fun activities. Focus on the memories you are making with your friends and family, not the number on the scale.
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NATE’S ‘BETTER THAN BOARDWALK’ CHOCOLATE FUDGE
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels*
• 1 cup milk chocolate morsels*
• 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1 1/2 tablespoons evaporated fat free milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup chopped nuts – optional
• Spray 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper
• Combine morsels, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in a microwave safe bowl
• Microwave choose the microwave option to melt chocolate (and choose this option twice). It should be about 40 seconds between intervals (totaling 2.5 minutes) stir between intervals until smooth. If there is no microwave option to melt chocolate, microwave on high for 60 seconds, stir, adding an additional 10 seconds and stirring until smooth
• Remove from microwave, stir in vanilla extract and add nuts (optional)
• Stir fudge vigorously (about 75 strokes) until smooth and fudge comes off spoon – the key to fudge is the consistency
• Spread evenly into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; Cut into 24 pieces
• Store fudge in an airtight container
*You can use any 2 cups of your favorite morsel flavor to create fudge. For peanut butter fudge, substitute two cups of peanut butter morsels for the chocolate morsels and use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Serving size: 1.5 inch cubes, Recipe makes 24 cubes
Calories per serving: 138
• Total fat 6g
• Cholesterol 5mg
• Sodium 10 g
• Carbohydrates 20g
• Sugars 19 g
• Protein 2g
• Calcium 4%
Percentage Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet
Emily Rubin, R.D., has been a registered dietitian with Thomas Jefferson’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology for 18 years. She is the dietitian for its celiac center, Fatty Liver Center and Weight Management Center. She is also the public relations chair for the Philadelphia Dietetic Association. She will be writing occasionally on topics related to nutrition and dieting.