Eating and drinking for that great summer body
The summer heat is upon us and, as usual, we are working on that desired summer body. Some persons are willing to try all sorts of diets, potions and concoctions to get the big broad hips, small waist, and let's not forget the men and the six-pack.
Liquid diets are very easy to prepare and very convenient to consume, but the big question is, what is packed in the liquid? Is it simple sugars? Is it mainly fibre? High protein and low carbohydrates? Or a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre and vitamins and minerals?
In the quest to lose weight or maintain that desired summer body, there are a few activities that must be consistent. These include:
- Food choices - Foods used to make liquid should be from the six food groups and used in moderation. For the summer body, a variety of foods from at least three food groups should be a part of each meal - be it liquid or solid. For example: fruit/vegetable, milk (soy or animal) and staples.
- Method of preparation - Fruits, peas, beans and vegetables are usually consumed not only because of the fibre content, but the other nutrients. These other nutrients include: vitamins, minerals (iron, calcium, vitamin A) and to get these vitamins and minerals activated in some foods, heat must be applied to the food item (vegetables, peas and beans). Raw callaloo has less iron and calcium per milligram, as compared to the amount found in the cooked form.
- Amount or portions consumed - The body requires a certain amount of energy and nutrients every day for the heart to beat, kidneys to function, and so on. If not received, the body will believe it is being starved and will use less energy to do all activities. This will result in gradual weight loss at first then after a while little or no weight loss occurs.
- Nutritional requirements vary - The amount of food required varies from person to person and depends on one's height, weight, age, activity level and presence of illness. In the making of these delicious liquid meals, be mindful of the amounts of ingredients used. All foods (except water) provide energy, therefore, if any food, including fruit, is taken in large amounts, it may result in weight gain, and if too little is consumed, weight loss may not occur. As the Jamaican saying goes, 'six a one, half dozen of the other' - the same effect.
- Eating habits - Meals should not be skipped, whether you are on a liquid, solid or combination diet. Skipping meals may cause the body to use less energy and may NOT result in weight loss. The number of meals consumed daily is an individual choice and should be based on daily activities. Regardless of the number of meals consumed per day, the total number of calories or total number of servings of food from each food group should remain the same.
- Timing of meals - Meals and meal times should be planned and meals should be eaten between a certain time period so that the body will not start conserving on energy. We all have different schedules, therefore, breakfast, lunch and dinner times WILL vary from person to person.
The school of thought that breakfast should be before 9 a.m. and the last meal should not be after 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. is a misconception. Breakfast should be eaten less than 10 hours after the last meal to prevent the body from believing it is being starved. The last meal should not be consumed less than two hours before going to bed.
- Emotional eating - Manage stress to prevent emotional eating, which most times cause the habit of snacking and/or overeating.
Whether you are juicing, shaking or eating solid foods to get that great summer body, the tips for good nutrition are the same.
- Drink smoothies, shake or juice in moderation - One serving is four ounces or half cup, and the more ingredients added, the higher the calories.
The popular 'green juice' is high in fibre and low in carbohydrates, protein and fat and is not a meal. It should be consumed along with a meal or as an in-between meal treat or snack to prevent hunger. Green juice is high in fibre and like all other fibre-rich foods, aids in making the bowels regular or prevents constipation and helps to get rid of waste products and fat out of the body.
Whatever you are doing to get that great summer body, making healthy food choices is key!
- Marsha N. Woolery, RD, is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist; email: firstname.lastname@example.org