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How to enjoy summer but avoid its pitfalls

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:04 PM

Hanging with friends and family in the summer is all part of the fun.

But the endless unhealthy summertime eats don’t have to ruin your waistline and leave you feeling “blah.”

Here are a few ideas to help you have a blast at your summertime gatherings without getting that “food hangover” that won’t go away:

First, and most importantly, don’t show up hungry. Saving your calories for the “big barbecue” is not going to start you out on the right foot. You may have noticed that even your healthiest, most disciplined friend has a tough time making healthy food choices when really hungry. This is not a lack of willpower; it’s just simple biochemistry! If you are in a hungry and mad-at-the-world “hangry” state, your blood sugar is too low. Your brain will crave carbohydrates and want all the junk on that picnic table, making it nearly impossible to make healthy choices. Instead, plan for a clean, healthy breakfast and carry snacks and water with you. The better you can maintain your healthy breakfast and snack momentum through the weekend, the better your blood sugar will be controlled. This will allow you to make healthier lunch and dinner choices.Second, bring healthier options with you. Let’s face it, nobody is thinking, “Yes, let’s bring a salad to the barbecue.” However, if you are serious about looking and feeling better, you have to make a few changes in how you think. For example, enjoying your next burger on a bed of greens is a healthier alternative. If you dread the thought of ditching that bun, start off small and wrap your burger in a “sandwich thin.” This will reduce the amount of empty, refined carbohydrates in your diet. Even snacking on a veggie tray with your favorite dip will help you avoid overeating the less healthy chips-n-queso. When possible, avoid the deli-style potato salad that is loaded with not-so-healthy ingredients. Instead, find a recipe for a cleaner mayo-free coleslaw using cabbage, apple and vinegar.Finally, avoid or reduce consumption of one of the biggest blockers of body fat loss ... alcohol. People tend to worry about the extra calories in alcoholic beverages, but the bigger problem might be the effect it has on your fat metabolism. Studies continue to show that even small amounts of alcohol have a large impact on fat metabolism. Even two simple, 90-calorie drinks (e.g. vodka and lemonade) separated by 30 minutes, were shown to reduce whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning), which dropped by 73 percent for several hours. You can imagine how that hefty drop could work against you even if you’re exercising. So, women, keep it to the occasional drink and men to the occasional two drinks.Enjoying quality time with family and friends is an important part of summer fun! But not every occasion can be a free-for-all when it comes to your food choices. Remember, it’s not about perfection or a restrictive, “no fun” diet. It’s about living a healthier lifestyle that you not only enjoy but makes you look and feel better.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.

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