The summer season of barbecues and vacations can be a good time to try a new approach to long-term health and happiness by breaking the cycle of restriction or indulgence. Registered Dietitian Jill Chodak, from UR Medicine’s Center for Community Health &Prevention, offers advice on adopting a newer, kinder routine.
- Ask why. Think about your motives and intentions. Are you going on vacation to enjoy new foods and explore a new culture of eating? Is your summer barbecue about family, tasty grilling, or both? What is your main source of enjoyment at these events? Whatever you decide, give yourself permission to find the joy in what you seek, and the discipline to honor your health goals.
- Find the fiber. Whether you're biting into that grilled hot dog or tasting pastries in Paris, there is always room to add fiber. Most people don’t get enough, and adding plants is a great way to remove guilt from your plate, promote balance and provide beneficial heart-healthy effects. Switching your mindset to addition rather than subtraction—like adding veggies, fresh fruit or beans to your plate to complement your hot dog or hamburger—can feel better while helping to instill more healthy habits and reshape your overall thoughts about food, body and health.
- Focus on whole-day eating. It’s easy to fixate on one meal and forget you have many other opportunities to add fiber throughout your day. Rather than restricting calories in anticipation of that calorie-bomb of a meal you want for dinner, focus on adding an abundance of fiber to the other meals in the day. It’ll help you enjoy the meal you are looking forward to without worry or guilt. Side benefit: You may actually eat less at that calorie-dense meal.
- Quench your thirst. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can help you make healthier choices at meal times. Sometimes we eat when we are thirsty. Drinking enough water can help to prevent this, as well as provide adequate hydration without empty calories.
Allowing your brain the space to be mindful about joy, intention, and things other than food and weight can help you enjoy your good health today and support your efforts for continued good health tomorrow.