Whether you're trying to eat better for weight loss, more energy of that healthy summer glow, make sure your diet overhaul doesn't include these common summer eating pitfalls.
Huge salads. Actually, it’s rarely the salad ingredients themselves that cause a problem (veggies are low-kilojoule, nutrient powerhouses packed with filling fibre), but the dressing and toppings. Creamy dressings particularly -- think Caesar and anything white – can put the saturated fat and kilojoule count of an otherwise-healthy salad on par with a burger or bowl of pasta! Even non-creamy store-bought dressings can be packed with hidden sugar. Toppings are another common trap. While bacon and cheese may be obvious candidates for ‘use sparingly’, many people make the mistake of overusing ‘healthy’ toppings such as seeds and nuts which, while good for you, are high in fat (good fats are as energy-dense as bad ones).
Swap store-bought salads and wraps and bought salad dressings for home made, which allows you to control the ingredients and quantities. Consider vinaigrette-style dressings made from ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and mustard for a flavour hit without excess fat and kilojoules. If you prefer creamy dressings, avocado is an excellent anchor. Try combining it with Greek yoghurt, olive oil and garlic or experiment with your own flavours by adding different herbs and spices. Limit packaged condiments, which often contain hidden sugar and other undesirable additives.
Smoothies and juices. Idealised as ‘healthy’, smoothies and juices can pack a huge sugar punch and rival the kilojoules of a meal without creating the same sense of satiety. Juices are a trap because, unlike whole pieces of fruit, juices lack filling fibre. Without fibre, not only do they leave you hungry, but the sugar content causes a sudden spike in insulin and leads to erratic blood sugar, which can cause sugar cravings (hello, vending machine).
Skip the bought smoothies, or make sure you know exactly what’s in them. If you prefer a liquid meal (they are easy to drink on the go), make your own with no-added sugar yoghurt or skim milk and throw in the pulp for fibre. Otherwise, get your fruit fix by adding chopped whole fruit such as apple or nectarine to cereal. Snack on whole fruits to maximise satiety and nutrition.
Drinking too little. Warmer temperatures and office air-conditioning can lead to dehydration. Yet unlike in the heat of summer, you mightn’t recognise that you need more fluids. Mild dehydration is often misconstrued as hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking or overeating. Headaches are another symptom of insufficient fluid intake. While two litres a day is a good hydration benchmark, this should increase if you’re active, working outdoors or drink coffee or tea, which contribute to dehydration.
Give yourself an incentive to regularly sip water by investing in a water bottle you’ll want on your desk. Get into a routine of filling it each evening and refrigerating it overnight. If you tend to forget to sip, set a few reminders throughout the day on your phone or computer. Aim to need a refill by lunchtime. If you dislike the taste of plain water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Whatever your health and wellbeing goals, we recommend consulting an accredited practising dietitian (APD) before making any drastic diet changes. To learn more about nutrition consultations or to book an appointment, click here.