Five Tips to Stay Healthy this Summer

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD, CPT

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

Attend the summer BBQs, but leave the extra weight behind.

BBQs, pool parties, bonfires, vacations, and trips to the local ice cream parlor can become quite frequent during the summer. All of these activities can make it easy to overeat or choose foods that will not help us reach our goals on a more frequent basis.

Listen to your Hunger Satisfaction Scale. I can’t emphasize how important this is. If you are in tune with your body’s hunger scale, you will know if you are physically hungry or if you want to eat out of boredom, stress, social pressure, happiness, sadness, or anger. This is a scale from one to 10. If you rate yourself a one that means you are starving. A 10 means you are stuffed and never want to think about food again. You are physically uncomfortable due to the amount of food consumed. Three is physically hungry. Six is physically satisfied. The bottom line is: eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are physically satisfied. If you wait to eat until you are starving unhealthy food choices and overeating become common. Eating when you are physically hungry instead of starving will allow you to be more in control of your food choices. It will also allow you to pay more attention to your body and stop when you are physically satisfied verses stuffed. Use this all the time, but especially when put in social situations surrounding food.

Wait to go back for seconds. It takes your body 15-20 minutes to catch up to what you just put in it. If you go back for seconds immediately you will probably overeat. Eating slowly can give your body some time to catch up to what you are putting in it.

Make a plate. It never fails, when you are at a BBQ there is an overwhelming amount of food. It can be easy to stand at the appetizer table and take down a bowl of buffalo dip and chips. Before you know it you are stuffed, but still eat dinner and dessert. To avoid this, make a plate keeping your hunger signals in mind. Try to make half your plate veggies and a quarter protein. Sit at a table to enjoy your plate. If you decided you it is going to be a rare occasion where you indulge in a sweet treat or salty snack make it part of that part and keep your hunger signals in mind.

Drink water. If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage or beverage with added sugar, drink one glass of water before going to get a refill. This will help to decrease your alcohol intake and/or calories coming from beverages. These are empty calories that are not nourishing your body in a positive manner.

Don’t skip your workouts. With the nice weather and enticing pools, summer can be an easy time to put the gym on the back burner. However, one missed week can easily lead to a second missed week and so on. Set your schedule up for success. If you know you are not going to work out after work, schedule your training sessions for the morning or lunch time. If you are on vacation and you will not be active or walking countless miles around a new city ask your trainer to write you a workout that you can do in your hotel.

Which of these five tips are you already doing? Which one will you add to your next summer event?

Can Weight Loss be as Easy as Sleep?

By: Suzanne Doerries RD, LD

Sleeping GirlWhen we think of weight loss or health, most of us think of exercise and nutrition. However, sleep plays a very important role. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of continuous sleep EVERY night.

Think about those nights when you don’t sleep well or get at least seven hours. How do you feel the next day? Are you able to think as clearly? Do you have lapses in your attention? Do you over react to situations? Chances are you answered yes to at least one of these questions.

In addition to the above, lack of sleep affects metabolic hormones. It decreases glucose tolerance affecting blood sugar levels.  It also decreases leptin and increases ghrelin. These are two hormones that have an effect on your appetite. Leptin tells the body that we have had enough to eat, while ghrelin tells us to eat. It’s the perfect storm, you are over emotional, don’t have control of your feelings, and feel hungry. How likely are you to make a healthy food choice especially when there is chocolate in the break room at work?  Multiple studies have shown that sleeping less than seven hours each night is associated with an increased BMI.

How can you improve your sleep? The first step is to make it a priority. If you are getting ample sleep you will be able to focus better and accomplish to-dos more efficiently. Here are some other tips to help insure a quality seven to nine hours of shut eye each night.

  • Turn off ALL light producing electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Having complete darkness is really important to a good night’s sleep. Light affects melatonin levels which will affect your sleep.
  • Set a peaceful timer to remind you to get ready for bed. One of the most common reasons people do not get enough sleep is because they choose to stay up. Whether they get sucked in to a TV show or want to get in extra work the choice is made to stay up.
  • Create a calming bed time routine. You want to be relaxed when you go to sleep, not stressed.
  • Turn down the heat. Most experts say that the best temperature for sleep is between 65 and 68 degrees F. If you get too hot while you sleep you will wake up.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon or at least 6 hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your sleep schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol. Any amount of alcohol can affect quality of sleep.
  • Exercise early. Exercising in the evening can make it hard for some people to fall asleep.
  • Breathe. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out through your nose without making any noise. You should not be able to hear yourself breathe. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale.

Don’t let a lack of sleep be the limiting factor to your health.