The warm weather has arrived and with it comes many people who are looking for ways to “healthify” their diets. In the summer months, I find myself constantly telling clients that they do not need to starve themselves or go on some wacky diet to look better in their swimsuits or shorts. All you have to do is take a closer look at your “summertime” eating habits (think BBQ, picnics, weddings etc.) to see where you can avoid dieting disasters and meet you summer weight loss goals.
I always urge my clients to concentrate on consuming foods that make their body feel best. To jumpstart your summer detox, cut back on these 5 foods: Saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar, salt and processed foods.
First and foremost, slice your fat intake in half. Foods high in saturated fat such as whole milk dairy products, meats and butter increase your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels which can pack on the pounds and damage your arteries, ultimately leading to an increased risk for heart disease. Try to avoid animal fats and swap them for healthier unsaturated fats from plant foods like nuts, avocados and olive oil.
Next, do your best to avoid eating refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, white rice, fruit juices, and all sweeteners, such as white sugar, corn syrup, fructose, and cane juice. I recommend that patients aim to only consume whole grains when eating carbohydrates. Examples of whole grains include breads made with 100 percent whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, popcorn (unsalted and non-buttered), oatmeal, quinoa, millet, barely, couscous, whole wheat pitas and tortillas. Choose whole grain wraps, crackers or bread, aim to find options with < 2 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber.
You’ll want to limit your sugar intake, too. The average American consumes 30 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which is more than 400 extra calories! The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar. The best way to limit your added sugar intake is to check labels on processed foods, as most have hidden sugars in them. Opt for choosing items with < 5 grams of sugar per serving.
Don’t forget, little changes can make a big impact way when trying to detox your body! When buying yogurt try to avoid brands with fruit on the bottom. The fruit in yogurts are fruit concentrates, which is just a hidden name for simple sugar. Sweeten your yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit to cut out added sugars and reap more nutrition. Another way to cut back on added sugars is to substitute sparking water with a squeeze of lemon for your daily sodas.
It’s also important to remember that a little bit of spice goes a long way! Ditch the salt and rely on healthy flavor packed ingredients, such as herbs and spices to enhance the taste of your food. Most restaurants are accustomed to adding salt during the cooking process so try to prepare food at home so that you can control your intake of sodium at meals. And don’t forget to read labels! The magic number to aim for is less than 500 mg of sodium for a meal and less than 150-240 mg for a snack.
Lastly, if you want to clean up your diet, you should definitely cut down on processed foods with loads of ingredients. By eliminating processed foods, you can easily minimize your intake of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and salt!
Go through your cabinets and apply my 6 guidelines for selecting healthy food items to determine if you’re consuming too many unhealthy convenience foods:
- Sugar < 5-8 grams per serving
- Fiber > 3 grams per serving
- Sodium < 240 mg per serving
- Total Fat < 3g/100 calories
- No Trans Fat
- Ingredient list: Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring/dyes; limit artificial sweeteners.
Now, who would have thought a 5-step detox could be this easy? Happy summer!
Read more Goal Getter for healthy eating, weight loss and more.