15 Tips to Get Back on Track after the Summer
Summer is over and it’s back to school for the kids. But I think us adults should be going “back to school” as well with when it comes to our eating habits! While summer is associated with lighter food and more activity, it’s also a time for weekends away, vacations and BBQ’s. And with more weekend traveling, there’s less time for grocery shopping and meal prep. So this means less cooking and more eating out or ordering in. The result? Many people actually end up gaining a few pounds over the summer! So September is the perfect time to get back on track after the summer with healthy eating habits.
15 tips to get back on track after the summer
- Keep a journal for 2 weeks or so. Include what you eat, the time you eat, alcohol, how much sleep you got and exercise. You can also record any other things like cravings, mood and energy levels. While some people may find this annoying, it can really help make you aware of your habits. Seeing it on paper makes it more real.
- Start the day with a good breakfast. Eating the right kind of breakfast can set the tone for the rest of the day. Try to eat breakfast at home or pack it to bring to work as most breakfast on the run choices are loaded with carbs and calories. The best breakfast is one the includes protein, some fat and fiber. Studies have shown that a high protein breakfast can help control cravings later in the day. Fiber can be from whole grains, fruit or added fiber like ground flaxseeds or chia seeds. Some healthy choices include: eggs, nut butter on whole grain toast, plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds + berries, and overnight oats.
- Keep your home stocked with healthy foods. If you’re too busy to make it to the grocery store, order groceries online
- Get in more vegetables. 84% of Americans don’t meet the recommendations of 4 servings or 2 cups/day. Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber to aid in weight management and gut health and to help fight chronic diseases, including cancer, stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases. But how many times have you bought veggies only to have them turn to slime in the fridge? Take advantage of frozen or pre-washed, chopped and spiralized veggies in supermarkets. And even easier – buy frozen. I’m obsesssed with frozen cauliflower rice. When eating out, try adding more veggies to salads, sandwiches and grain bowls and snacks. Here are 22 ways to increase your intake of vegetables.
- Find healthy lunch choices near your workplace … or better yet, bring from home. Lunches on the run are often loaded with calories, carbs and/or sodium. The good news is that there are numerous healthy options including salads, sandwich/soup combos, and bowls. Take advantage of the online nutritional content listed for many of these lunch spots and plan about 5 healthy choices near your office or home. Read my previous post on 125 Healthy Lunches on the Run\
- Get more sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult sleeps 5-6 hrs a night and the goal is 7-8 hours. Inadequate sleep can increase risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, mood disorders, suppress the immune system, may accelerate aging of brain and negatively impact memory and cognitive performance. So make it a priority to get those zzzz’s! Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed and read.
- Fit in movement. Find an activity that you enjoy. Try something different. If you have trouble with motivation, find an exercise buddy, get a personal trainer or book a class where you get penalized financially if you miss it. Too busy to get to the gym? Try an app. There are tons of apps that give you whole exercise programs.
- Plan healthy snacks. Whether you raid the vending machine at work or the kitchen at night, planning healthy snacks is key in helping you stay on track. Some of my favorite snacks include: nuts, fruit, string cheese or baby bel cheese, healthy jerky, nut butter on an apple or whole grain cracker, hummus or guacamole with veggies. Read my previous post on Heart Healthy Snacks, Snacks at CVS, Low Carb Snacks
- Eat dinner at home more. Most of are busy and don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen at the end of a long day. So this means going out to eat or ordering in. But here’s the problem – even if you’re making healthy choices, but the calories add up quickly from added fat or jumbo sized portions. And you’re tempted by extras like the bread on the table. So by planning healthy dinner at home,
- Find healthy take out options for dinner as a back up plan. While cooking more at home is the goal, there will be nights when you want to order in. So instead of dialing for Chinese or pizza, find a few healthy options in your neighborhood. Good choices include: Japanese (edemame, sushi, sashimi), Turkish (kabobs, chopped salads, grilled vegetables, and moderate portion of rice, brown if possible), Chinese (steamed protein + vegetables with brown rice, sauce on the side … boring but healthy!), and Rotisserie chicken with vegetables and baked potato).
- Order a meal delivery service. Now I’m not talking getting a pizza delivered! But rather a meal kit that you assemble and cook or meal that is already cooked and ready to pop in the microwave or oven. Because the reality is that after a long day, not many of us have the time or energy to slice, dice and prepare a meal. Check out my blog post on Review of Healthy Meal Delivery Services!
- Booze control. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, having beers while watching the game or unwinding with a glass of wine, alcohol is a common denominator for many New Yorkers. While alcohol in moderation may have health benefits, too much of it will interfere with your sleep, and impact your weight and overall health.
- Find ways to alleviate stress. Living in NYC and stress go hand in hand. Finances, job pressures, family and the constant noise are just a few causes. Stress takes a toll on our sleep, drinking and eating habits, and physical and mental health. Find ways to deal with stress including yoga, mediation (try an app), listening to music, exercising, reading and scheduling more “me” time.
Eat more earlier in the day and less at night. Research is suggesting that limiting the number of hours you eat in a day may have numerous health benefits. While there several types of intermittent fasting, I find the easiest one to start with is to try to eat within a 12 hour window. For example, breakfast at 8 am and dinner (or last snack) by 8 pm! Once you’ve mastered that, aim to eat within a 10 or 8 hour window. Read my previous post on why you should restrict the time your eat.
- Write a weekly goal list. It’s not easy to make changes in your diet or lifestyle, but it can be done. Pick 1-3 goals to work on each week. The trick will be to analyze your current work/life/eating situation and come up with a plan. We problem solve in many other areas in our lives – why not this one!
Start with just 1-2 tips. Initially, it may seem like an extra effort, but with consistency and practice, these hacks will soon turn into habits. You’ll feel more energized, have less stress and be better able to tackle your hectic life!
Need help with setting up a healthy nutrition and lifestyle plan for 2019?
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I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.