Friday, July 2, 2010

Dive Into the Pool! Solving Summer Diet Slow Downs

Heirloom Tomatoes from JCT Kitchen "Killer Tomato Fest"...proof that summer flavors are hot!
So how are you doing on that summer time slimming regime? If you've lost a little steam and starting steering away from the low calorie side of the menu, you’re not alone. Nutrition researchers have found that our enthusiasm for the “diet” version of foods slows down over time. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that after just five days of feeding participants lower calorie versions of recipes such as spaghetti and meat sauce satisfaction ratings fell by 30 percent. This might help explain why so many people are easily side tracked from healthy eating goals in a relatively short period of time. So, what can you do to keep your mind and taste buds motivated to choose the meals more likely to help you meet summer weight control goals? Here are a few strategies and suggestions to help keep boredom at bay.

Know Which Flavors are Free – There are plenty of ways to jazz up steamed vegetables, grilled fish and other menu choices you might otherwise garnish with a high fat sauce. Lemon juice, salsa, steak sauce, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce and vinegars are low cal or no cal options for adding flavor without fat. If you’re watching your sodium intake choose lower sodium versions of soy sauce and go easy on the steak sauce.

Add Detective Novels to Summer Reading – Learn to read between the lines because menu descriptions don’t always tell the whole story about the added fat and calories in a dish. If it says “crispy coating” it probably means it has been deep fat fried or pan fried and always ask the server about how sauces are made. For example, is it a “light” tomato sauce because it’s made with cream and color is lighter? It can happen! And did you know that many restaurants poach seafood in oil? When you see “poached” it doesn’t always mean in low calorie water based broths.

Get what you want but skip the extras- Give in but don’t give up. It’s not the craving for pizza that ‘done your diet wrong’, it was the decision to add extra pepperoni or double cheese that sent the fat and calories over your limit. Watch out for extras such as fried croutons on salads, bacon slices on burgers and cheese sauce slathered on steamed broccoli. Use cravings as an opportunity to add good nutrition such as more veggies on pizza. In the dessert department enjoy a large bowl of fresh berries topped with a small serving of ice cream, instead of a huge bowl of ice cream topped by a few berries!

Find Farms on the Menu

Fresher flavors make for happier taste buds, so summer’s bounty of just picked produce can help keep healthy fruit and veggie focused meals more interesting. The good news is that a bumper crop of chefs today are enthusiastic about featuring top notch organic and locally grown ingredients on their menus. Carvel Gould, executive chef at Canoe in Vinings buys as much as possible from local farmers and added raised bed gardens to the landscaping around the restaurant. Jimmy Carter owner of Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails in Alpharetta tends an acre garden overflowing with corn, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, herbs and other tasty treasures for chef Boyd A. Rose to feature on their menu of “new southern cuisine.” City chefs focus on rural riches, too. Thomas McKeown ‘s menu at Terrace restaurant at The Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta reads like a road map of Georgia with heirloom cherry tomatoes from Crystal Organic in Newborn and lettuces from Indian Ridge Farm in Clarksville. He says, “I try to keep the food as natural as possible and let the food speak for itself. When you start with high quality product it is easy to make great dishes.”

Happy with the Taste but Want to Eat More?
Well, then you’ll have to move more. Whether it’s a morning jog before it gets too hot, a lunchtime cardio class or dancing after dinner, exercise not only helps you maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved; it allows you to eat more without regaining. Trade in some hammock time and step up your activity level this summer and you’ll burn the calories needed to savor a ballpark chili dog or poolside frozen cocktail.

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