When entering another summer season of BBQs and vacations, it can be helpful to try a new approach to long-term health and happiness by breaking the cycle of restriction or indulgence, and adopting a newer, kinder routine.
Think about motive and intention. Are you going on vacation to enjoy new foods and explore a new culture of eating? Is this summer BBQ 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 are looking forward to that hot dog on the grill or are excited to try some new pastries in Paris, there is always room to add fiber to your plate. Most people don’t get enough, and adding plants can really help to remove guilt from your plate, promote balance and continue to provide beneficial heart healthy effects.
Add plant foods such as cut veggies, fresh fruit or roasted nuts while you enjoy your hot dog or hamburger. Switching your mindset to addition rather than subtraction can feel better, help to instill more healthy habits and reshape overall thoughts about food, body and health.
Focus on whole-day eating. Many times we can get so fixated on just one meal in our day that we forget we have many other eating opportunities to add fiber. Instead of restricting calories in anticipation for that one calorie-bomb of a meal we want at dinner, focus on adding an abundance of fiber to the other meals in the day so, again, you can really enjoy the meal you are looking forward to without worry or guilt. You may actually eat less at the calorie-dense meal.
Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can help with making 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 the empty calories.
This approach can allow your brain the space to be mindful about joy, intention and things other than your food and weight so you can best enjoy your health as you work to continually optimize it.
Jill Chodak is a registered dietitian at the Center for Community Health & Prevention of the University of Rochester Medical Center.