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7 Tips to Keep Your Summer Eating On Track

Posted 7/6/2018 by UHBlog

If funnel cakes and fried Oreos are favorite summertime foods, ask us about strategies that allow you to enjoy an occasional treat while still maintaining your weight and health goals.

Tasty meat on the grill outdoors

Summer is about beach vacations, wearing flip-flops and enjoying ice cream. But with festivals, ballgames, vacations and more relaxed schedules, you might be tempted to put their weight concerns on hold until the fall.

Stay strong, advises registered/licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator Janice Friswold, RDN, LD, CDE.

“I think summer time actually is the easier time to diet,” Ms. Friswold says. “There is a lot less emphasis on holiday foods that tend to have more sugar and saturated fats. There are more fresh fruits and vegetables available at a lower cost and grilling techniques can reduce calories and saturated fats in foods.”

Summer, of course, also means warmer weather, which allows you to get outside to exercise instead of working out inside.

Summer Food Temptations

But summer also has temptations that aren’t available the rest of the year. For example, fairs and carnivals can bring fried foods and empty calories to your eating.

But Ms. Friswold says you don’t have to avoid such treats completely.

“Elephant ears and cheese fries can be really tempting,” she says. “If you must have some, share it with others and don’t eat it all yourself.”

Being overweight or obese contributes to chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. For employers, lifestyle-related diseases can drive up health care costs.

Baby boomers have other concerns that make maintaining a healthy weight difficult. As you age, your muscle mass decreases, which slows down your metabolism.

“Those of a ’certain age’ should increase their intake of protein foods, such as nuts, peanut butter or eggs, to at least three times a day,” Ms. Friswold says. “I also suggest a combination of resistance and aerobic exercises to maintain muscle mass.”

How to Stay the Course

To help you stay on track with your eating, Ms. Friswold offers these seven do’s and don’ts:

  1. Don’t skip meals, which just makes you hungrier.
  2. Do plan ahead by keeping the right kinds of foods in the refrigerator and pantry. For instance, include salads and higher-protein foods such as fish and lean cuts of meats, such as those with the word “loin” in the name.
  3. Do drink more water. This helps to hydrate you, fight heat stroke and tricks your brain into thinking you’re full.
  4. Don’t forget your healthy eating habits just because the beach is now at hand.
  5. Do sample the local fruits and vegetables instead of the local bakery if you travel on vacation.
  6. Do look for light and low-calorie food choices when selecting from food trucks or at fairs, carnivals and ballgames.
  7. Don’t punish yourself if you overindulge. But do return to your healthy eating habits as soon as you can.

Employers have additional opportunities to use the warm weather to encourage employees to maintain their healthy eating and/or weight-loss goals. Some ideas that encourage team-building and healthy eating include:

  • Eating lunch together outside at a picnic table or the local park.
  • Potlucks around certain food-based themes, especially those that are focused on summer’s vegetables and fruits.

“It’s important at any time of the year to set mini-goals trying to just make it one day at a time,” Ms. Friswold says. “Each day, try to get out and walk around, and plan fun activities for the weekend. Planning ahead and taking healthier foods with you can help you stay on track and maintain a healthy weight.”

Jan Friswold, RDN, LD, CDE is a registered/licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Friswold or any other healthcare professional online.

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