The stores are filled with bikinis and beach blankets, and visions of summer vacations are distracting everyone from kids at school to seasoned office workers. Just one problem: For many of us, those winter comfort foods like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie have resulted in too many bulges for bikini bliss. If winter weight gain is preventing you from anticipating beach season, then relax. We’ve got the skinny on how to slim down and achieve your best body for summer fun:
- Don’t drink your calories. Those fancy coffee beverages at the cafÃ©, sugary sodas and juice beverages can add on pounds without satisfying your hunger. Sip water and zero-calorie beverages, such as Yogi Herbal Tea Green Slim Life ® Blueberry.
- Kick-start your day with a breakfast that includes protein, which will keep you full longer and optimize the function of your metabolism. For example, slice up Mori-Nu Silken Lite Firm Tofu, which has just 30 calories per serving and 5 grams of protein. Mix with Native Forest Organic Mango Chunks for a tasty breakfast.
- Eat every three hours to avoid cravings for sugar. Emphasize whole foods that are free of artificial ingredients, and include protein in your snack. For example, for a great mid-morning snack, try crunchy almond Barney Butter spread on celery stalks, or enjoy a protein shake made with Vitacost Vanilla Plant Protein powder.
- Make lunch the largest meal of the day to give your body time to digest it fully and burn those calories. Feature vegetables, both cooked and raw, and add protein plus complex carbohydrate for a healthy, filling meal. For example, try steamed zucchini and mushrooms for your cooked vegetable, with a salad made of assorted lettuce and sliced tomatoes. For protein and carbohydrates, enjoy Eden Foods Organic Green Lentils and Brown Rice, which provides you with both fiber and protein. Seeking salad dressing? Be cautious, as some salad dressing can contain more calories than your entire meal! Recommended: Calorie-free, yet delicious Walden Farm salad dressings, such as Sesame Ginger.
- 3 p.m. is a traditional time for snacks ““ and candy bars seem to be the “prescription” for energy for many of us. Keep your weight loss on track by choosing a low-calorie, healthy version, such as Raw Crunch Bars Organic Dark Chocolate bars, with just 150 calories each.
- At dinner, follow the same formula as lunch, but aim for smaller amounts of carbohydrates. Fill up on a big salad and steamed vegetables, and enjoy a serving of fish, lean poultry or beans for protein. For carbohydrates, try a slice of 45-calorie Ener-G Light Tapioca Loaf, which is gluten-free, and spread it with 0-calorie Walden Farms blueberry jam.
- Did someone say “What about a bedtime snack?” We’re answering that plea with a delicious treat: Think Products thinkThin ® Bites Cookies and Cream, with just 100 calories a serving. Enjoy with a cup of herbal tea, such as Tazo Organic Baked Cinnamon Apple Herbal Tea, for the perfect ending to a deliciously guilt-free diet day!
Joanne Eglash, Vitacost.com’s Diet Diva, has a master of science in holistic nutrition and more than 15 years experience as a nutrition consultant, blogger, author and journalist. She has written for a wide range of publications and websites, including ediets.com,Natural Health magazine, Shape magazine, Success magazine, Energy for Women and Chefs. Joanne is currently the national Diets columnist for the online news and entertainment site, Examiner.com, and a features food columnist for Yahoo.