Posted on Jul 21, 2020, 3 p.m.
This is the season that invites us to eat a little bit lighter and become more active outdoors with its brighter, longer, and warmer days trying their best to invoke sun shiny happiness inspiration in us all.
For those looking to engage in a more healthful lifestyle that is perhaps in a reaction to a few pounds or less desirable habits that have been gained over the past few difficult months, please be kind to yourself. We may have indulged a bit more but this is due to the stresses that are associated with being stuck at home and all of the uncertainty. It is important not to judge yourself or others for the ways chosen to cope during such a trying and uncertain time.
Being kind and compassionate to others and ourselves is important to mental health, and this can also affect our future behaviors. Forget what you did before, consider each day from now on to be a new opportunity to improve your health and wellness by making a few very simple adjustments to your daily routines to support your overall health, longevity, and anti-aging efforts.
Along with the possibility of beautiful weather we also have the opportune time to take advantage of a variety of fresh produce that can be incorporated into healthy meals while we enjoy a variety of outdoor locations that can be utilized for fun fitness activities.
During the hotter weather it is especially important to stay hydrated because we may lose more fluids through sweat, drinking water will help to keep us healthy. The amount of water one needs can vary from person to person, but the Institute of Medicine recommends women should intake 2.7 liter of fluids per day and men should intake about 3.7 liter per day.
Drinking 12 ounces of water with each meal can help you meet your fluid needs, this can also help you to avoid overeating. For those that are not interested in plain water try adding fruit to the water to infuse some flavor or even some mint or rosemary. Seltzer can also be refreshing and more satisfying than plain water on a really hot day. Broth based soup can also help you to meet your fluid needs, as can water rich foods like watermelon, cucumbers, celery, oranges, and grapes among others.
Try to take advantage of the glorious weather and get outside and have some fitness fun. Regular physical activity can help to strengthen your bones and muscles while lowering your risks for disease and helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise does not have to be boring and tedious, take advantage of these longer days to enjoy activities like treasure hunting, walking, hiking, dancing, jogging, riding a bike, roller skating, swimming, tennis, badminton, outdoor yoga, golf, frisbee, bocce ball, volleyball, snorkeling, horseshoes, baseball, soccer, lawn bowling, golf, paddle boarding, kayaking, flying a kite, and water skiing. This season has numerous ways to have fun which will help to keep you fit and increase your energy expenditure including chores like mowing the lawn, gardening, yard work and washing the car which also get you moving more while accomplishing the necessary chores.
If you consume a lot of carbs you can also consider replacing some of the more starchy ones like white rice and regular pasta with lower carb alternatives as a compromise that can give your meals a nutritional upgrade by boosting the fiber and nutrients while reducing some calories. You can try switching out mashed potatoes for cauliflower sometimes, or substitutes chickpeas and lentil pasta in the place of regular pasta. Chickpea rice makes a nice alternative to white rice as does quinoa, and for another touch of variety spaghetti squash makes a nice change from regular spaghetti noodles.
Adding protein to a meal can help to make us feel fuller for longer, and it also helps us to intake fewer calories than a meal that consists of only fats and carbohydrates. Protein can also help to preserve muscle mass which in turn helps to keep our metabolism running which is important as we lose muscle mass with age. Protein rich food such as shellfish, poultry, beans, lentils, eggs, Greek yogurt, and fish are good choices, but don’t forget to add some veggies to that meal to increase satiety to complete that meal.
Sometimes I find it hard to eat protein when it is hot out, during these times I turn to quinoa which can be consumed hot or cold, and it is also a good source of plant based protein for those who wish to avoid animal products. Cooked quinoa consists of 222 calories 71.6% water, 21.3% carbs, 4.4% protein, and 1.92% fat in just one cup. Additionally it is gluten free and higher in nutrients than most grains, while being very flexible in its uses which is why it is my preferred go to for a variety of yummy hot/cold recipes.
For anyone looking for that magic bullet, fiber may be as close as it gets as this undigested plant substance can help you to feel full, lose weight, ease digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and help you to lower the risks of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. However, most people (9 out of 10) are not getting enough fiber according to research.
To get more fiber into your diet isn’t that hard, barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, fruits and veggies are all great sources. Typically the more whole, natural and unprocessed the food the higher in fiber it will be, but keep in mind that there is no fiber in meat, dairy, or sugar. One of the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables is boosting your immune system to go along with increasing your fiber intake. It is recommended that at mealtimes you fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, which come in a range of colors carrying a variety of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help to prevent disease. Think Eat The Rainbow at meal times.
In addition to keeping an eye on how much you are eating, it may also wise to pick a time that you will stop eating at for the day as well, which should be ideally at least 4 before going to bed to result in at least 12 hours between meals. This habit offers you a way to enjoy some of the benefits of intermittent fasting that works with our natural circadian rhythms. Eating late at night may increase the likelihood of weight gain, while taking in calories during the day has beneficial effects on weight management as well as other health indicators. If you find yourself getting hungry, reach for a glass of water which should help to fill that hole.
You don’t have to eliminate all indulgences, just pick one for the day. It can be that glass of wine with dinner, that cup of low fat ice cream, or even a small handful of dark chocolate chips. The point is that in moderation intentional portion controlled indulgences, even on a daily basis, can be part of a healthy plan. It is not realistic to deprive yourself of all of your favorite treats, and it may be setting yourself up to backfire and binge on those forbidden foods when you least expect it which will sabotage all your efforts.
Along the way in your journey you may experience slips and setbacks. Be kind to yourself, no one is perfect. The important part is that you are trying. This is not a failure, it is just a minor speed bump. Take it as an opportunity to learn and grow from. Pick yourself up and start over again. Do not give up, you can do this, and you are well worth it. You deserve the benefits that each day of lifestyle improvement will bring to you.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.