With the summer in full swing and the days being at their hottest, it can only mean one thing. Barbecue season is in full swing! We are hitting up the beaches, drinking on the patio, dusting off our bicycles and eating ice cream like it is going out of style! The much anticipated summer season has arrived and we are basking in all of its glory. Like the season, a trend that rolls around at this exact time of year is a dieting trend. You’ll hear people say, “summer is coming” or use the phrase, “bikini season,” and begin to restrict their food intake, start a new crash diet or avoid foods altogether. All of which are 1) no fun, 2) setting you up for failure and likely leading to a binge and 3) teaching you that food has some level or morality being good or bad.
In today’s blog post, we are going to be sharing how you can eat healthy year round. You don’t have to restrict your intake to solely clean foods, or whatever title you choose to give them. We are going to be talking about the key elements to include in each of your meals and various ways to treat yourself without an ounce of guilt! Grab your Ohh! Foods Cookie Dough and write these tips down, or better yet, write them on a post it note and stick it to your fridge!
Tip #1: Choose the healthiest carbohydrate
The dreaded carb conversation. We crave nothing but potatoes, rice and grains during the winter months and then eat salads like we are rabbits during the summer. What gives? Naturally, our bodies hold onto more body fat during the winter to keep us warm. We lean towards soups, stews and chilis filled with starchy carbs to keep our bellies happy and full. But when the weather turns and the sun comes out, most people experience a shift in their appetite and naturally eat less due to the warmer weather. When we do eat, it is typically lighter, more watery foods such as watermelon, fresh fruits, salads and so on. Because we are spending more time outside, we crave foods that have a higher water content to keep us hydrated throughout our busy days. In the health and wellness space, carbohydrates are frowned upon and are usually labelled “bad” and “good.” Some people take it to the extreme and cut them all together by following the keto diet, and then there are others who eat a predominantly plant based diet containing mostly starchy carbs. Our body’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates, glucose to be exact. We need the sugars to serve our muscles and brain to fuel our summer activities. Carbohydrates serve one need, they provide us with energy to function when they are consumed. Where they get us into trouble is when they start to take the shape of ice cream, cookies, pizza, fries and grilled cheese sandwiches on the regular. The next time you are at a barbecue, event or out for dinner, build your plate first by choosing foods that contain the most amount of water first. Start with your fruits and vegetables - always! This ensures that 1) you are hydrating yourself while you eat, 2) you are eating your micronutrients and 3) you will eat less overall because of the amount of volume these healthy carbohydrates contain. This rule applies year round, instead of foregoing carbs all together in an attempt to shape up for the season or to shed some water weight, choose the best carbohydrates and put a smaller serving of the “fun carbs” on your plate. We guarantee you that by the time you finish your healthy carbs, protein and fats on your plate, that you’ll be too full to eat the rest!
Tip #2: Fill your plate with vegetables first
This tip ties directly into the first one. Imagine you are at a buffet, the world is your oyster, or in this case, your food coma. When you’re building your plate, you have an endless number of foods to choose from. Start with vegetables. Half of your plate should consist of a variety of colored vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, carrots and onions. Once it's half full, head over to the protein section and choose a palm size serving. This could be a cup of legumes or beans, a combination or grains and nuts or a serving of tempeh! Next up, healthy fats. This could be a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of nuts/seeds, a scoop of guacamole - you’re the judge! After all that, then head over for the fun stuff - the stuff that you really want to eat, but know deep down that you will be keeled over with stomach cramps if you eat your bodyweight worth of it. That stuff. This ensures that you eat from the vegetables, to the protein, to the fat, in the order that it will be fully digested. At this point, you should be full from the abundance of healthy food you just consumed that you won’t be able to eat all of the rest! The other perk about using this tip, is there is no deprivation. You can eat anything you put on your plate, but only after you eat the good stuff first. Gone are the days of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), say hello to the “I Can Eat Anything” mentality!
Tip #3: Drink plenty of water!
Have you ever thought about how odd it is that we are given water before, during and after our meals? Water waters down our digestive enzymes. You heard that right. Water actually dilutes our digestive juices and makes it harder for our bodies to break down food - especially if you are using it to help wash down the peas that you hate... Yes, it helps to take up space in your stomach if you drink it beforehand, but how do you feel afterwards? Probably like one of those slush puppy machines whose contents are constantly churning. Instead of drinking water with your meals, aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day - we’re talking liters! Drink water first thing in the morning, between meals, during your workouts and before you go to bed. Our body is made of water, so give it what it needs to function optimally! When it comes to meal timing, try to stop drinking water 15-30 minutes before you eat. It's common for individuals to use liquids as an aid to wash down their food because they aren’t chewing it enough. Instead of using water to lubricate your food, let your saliva do the work. The more you chew your food, the more surface area you expose your saliva to and offer them the opportunity to work their way into every crevice to be broken down. So when in doubt, chew your food more! This tip will not only help you eat less overall, but it will also help you get the most nutrients out of your food by helping your body break them down into smaller pieces. This tip is a triple whammy, hydrate during non-meal times and then chew like a boss when it is.
Tip #4: Eat With Your Eyes
Eat with your eyes - count colours, not calories! Who doesn’t love a good rainbow? Well, now you have the opportunity and goal, to create a rainbow on your plate everytime that you eat! Numerous studies have shown that we eat with our eyes, we are visual creatures - and that’s a good thing! When your meal is visually pleasing, we take pride in the time it took to make and eat slower. We are more mindful with our eating intentions and often eat less because we are savouring every bite. Aim to have 3-5 colours on your plate at every meal. This could be a cobb salad with romaine lettuce, onion, tomatoes, vegan tempeh bacon and a vegan blue cheese dressing. It could also be a colourful stir fry with avocado and sesame seeds! The options are endless and if you have kids, make it a game or challenge - how many colours can you fit onto your plate!
Tip #5: Eat food, mostly plants.
Four short words, but strung together by Micheal Pollen that hold unshakable meaning. Our bodies love healthy carbohydrates for two reasons, 1) because they are loaded with water and 2) because they break down into glucose, our most readily available source of energy. It goes without saying that we should strive to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day to meet our body's needs. Going back to the earlier tips, our plates should be primarily fruits and vegetables. Get creative in the kitchen - how can you add more fruits and vegetables to your meals? Can you use butternut squash noodles instead of pasta? Can you substitute in cauliflower rice in replacement of whit rice? Think outside of the box, literally, release your grip on the box of risotto, and see what healthy changes you can make to meals that you already love eating!
There you have it, five easy tips to take you from the seasonal eating mentality to eating for the long run. Whenever you need a healthy snack or dessert, confidently reach for your Ohh! Foods Cookie Dough or Bites because you know they are full of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and real food that will make your body sing with energy all year round!
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