Summer is finally here. For us winter-weary, heat-deprived northerners, summer is a welcome break and cause for celebration. Out comes the back-yard barbecue with the appropriate summer drinks.
With summer’s delicious bounty and one social event after another, it can certainly be a challenging time to keep one’s figure in check. Everything tastes so good in the outdoors.
Clients often tell me that their love of food, their appetites or their culinary abilities put them at a disadvantage when it comes to being fit and trim. Hmmm. Let’s look at that.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to eat. What about you? Do you love the tastes, aromas and textures of food or do you love the feeling of getting full? Do you really love food? I’m talking about the verb love, not the feeling of love.
If you truly ‘love’ food are you treating it as such? Are you respectful, caring and attentive to food? Or do you prefer to stuff it down as quickly as possible to get that full feeling?
What about focusing, instead, on taking slow, conscious pleasure in the experience? Stuffing yourself with food is not really loving or respectful to you, or the food, is it?
Admiring what you are about to eat is a great way to begin a meal. Think about how you feel about eating it. How do you think it will taste? Have you given thanks?
When you finally start in, be mindful of the tastes and textures. If you love the food, you will want to make it last as long as possible by chewing thoroughly and pausing between bites. If you are really paying attention you will notice the tastes become less profound or less delicious as you become more satisfied or full.
I think you will find that if you eat food that you love for only as long as you love it, you will be inclined to eat less of it because you are truly satisfied.
On the other hand, if you’re eating without paying attention because you’re multi-tasking or you’ve just checked out, you will probably eat more than what feels good and you will miss the entire experience. Been there?
If you really love food, be discriminating. There’s no room for mediocrity. If you’re cooking, don’t fix no junk! If you’re lined up at the buffet, choose wisely. In addition to a sore tummy, helping yourself to some of everything means you don’t really taste anything specifically, kind of like casserole. If you help yourself to something that doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can always put it aside. Your mother’s not looking. It’s more wasteful to eat it than not.
If you know that having something in your mouth or in your belly (feeling full) is what you enjoy most, choose to chew on something that won’t do damage, like raw vegetables or gum. It might be helpful to focus on the feeling of being satisfied, versus full, and work on getting used to feeling less full. Practice.
Sangria, Margarita, Stella Artois, whomever you like to mix it up with, beware. These girls are going to cost you. I hate to be the party pooper, but there are things you need to know before you imbibe. Alcohol slows your body’s ability to burn fat. It also raises your blood sugar insulin levels and increases appetite. Alcohol is essentially sugar, but it is closer to fat in terms of calorie density. Fat gained from alcohol goes directly to the abdomen, hence the term “beer belly.” Another thing. The more you drink, the less attentive you are likely to be, to what and how much you’re eating.
While red wine is getting lots of attention as a great source of antioxidants, and that’s good for the heart, remember that 5 ounces (just over 1/2 cup) daily for women and 5 – 10 ounces for men is all that’s required. Grapes and many other fruits and vegetables, as well as regular physical activity, offer the same benefits. Sadly, there is no need to drink red wine for the health benefits.
And now the good news. It’s summer; remember? Ditch the fuzzy slippers in exchange for something a little more athletic and the food and drink are not only more affordable, but taste even better to an active body. But never reward yourself with food or drink. That’s just counter-productive.
Summer is the easiest time to be active because most of us just want to be outdoors, doing something. The possibilities are both simple and plentiful. Just get out there and move your body.
Armed with self-awareness and perspective, you get to choose what you will do with what you know. Trust yourself to make balanced, conscious choices.