By Dr JOANNA KARAMON firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer is just around the corner, and looking at some of our deeply pink-hued visitors, it may already be here!
There are those who have already started a strict let-me-try-to-get-into-THAT-swimsuit diet, to try and shift some of that ‘excess baggage’ that had been hiding under winter woolies, and others (like me!), who were terrified by the reflection in the changing room mirror, are just about to embark on a serious detox /weight loss regime. Well, I won’t bore you with the universally known facts about how bad crash diets are and how this should be a lifestyle change… we all know that. What we sometimes need is for someone to give us some PRACTICAL rules in how to lose and then maintain our weight loss during the summer holidays, without endangering our own health (or the sanity of our spouses).
Rule nº1: nothing moves … if you don’t
No matter where you are, whether at home or on holiday, there will always be a stretch of road, mountain or beach that can be traversed… DO IT! Thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day will keep your metabolic rate up, and if you do this outside in the sun (don’t forget the sunscreen!) you will also get your Vitamin D dosage in, vital for healthy bones. But please, do not do an Alexander the Great type rout march in the middle of the day … be sensible and avoid heat stroke by doing your exercise early in the morning before the day heats up. There seems to be some evidence that exercising before breakfast burns more calories than at the end of the day. This may be true, but be aware that doing this may drop your blood glucose levels, making you feel weak and faint. If this does happen, simply eat a piece of low GI fruit (an apple, pear, berries or a peach, for example) before setting off on your daily constitutional.
Rule nº2: water, water everywhere
We are made up of over 70 per cent water, so it is no wonder that no organ in our body can function effectively when we are dehydrated. Aim to consume one to two litres of water per day, depending on your body’s needs and activity level. A good idea is to freeze a couple of bottles (just remember ice expands so don’t fill the bottles to the top!) and grab one as you head out the door on your outing. It will stay cool as it melts and you may find yourself walking longer with a cool drink at hand!
However, just as you are about to relax with that long, tall, icy cocktail, remember
those calories! A singlecan of soda contains about 150 calories and 40-45 grams of sugar, and that is without the alcohol. Leave empty calories behind, stick to your weight goals and go for water. If you are like me and find pure water too bland and the flavoured waters too artificial, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, couple of sprigs of mint or some crushed berries for a natural, low-calorie flavouring.
Drinking gallons of water may prevent dehydration BUT… and this is quite important…. when we sweat we also lose essential salts, which need to be replaced, otherwise they get even further diluted when we drink pure water. Ahhh, I hear you say, but what about my blood pressure?? Everything in moderation. A small handful of salted nuts a day will not only supply you with enough extra salt, the essential oils in them will keep your skin smooth and moist. Alternatively, 250ml a day of an oral rehydration solution (one reconstituted sachet of ready-made rehydration products such as Diarolyte or Rehydrate, for example) will help balance out lost electrolytes and prevent muscle cramps.
Rule nº3: graze not gorge
Spreading your meals out may not be possible when on holiday if you do not have easy access to a kitchen, but you can keep pre-packaged portions of fruit, vegetables and yoghurts in your mini-bar! This will allow you to snack on healthy alternatives to crisps and other junk food, keeping your glucose and energy levels up (for strenuous days of rest and relaxation…. and of course, shopping!), and will stop you from overeating during the main meals and storing uneven degrees of fat, which are even harder to lose.
Rule nº4: greens are not just for golfers
Science shows that summer foods are so rich in nutrients, it’s impossible to overdose! Eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, and make at least one meal in the day only vegetables or a salad. You will not only benefit from the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants found in all greens, the fibre will help keep your bowels regular and prevent bloating, making you look fabulous in that new bikini. Summer holiday time is as good a time as any to experiment with new produce, especially if you are in a foreign country. Get several varieties and taste test them at the same time – you may find a new favourite!
In southern Europe especially, the harsh sunlight bombards the eye’s lens with free radicals. A diet rich in antioxidant nutrients protects against the formation and progression of age-related vision loss by counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals. Berries, pomegranates, plums, cherries, grapes and kiwis are among the top 10 anti-oxidant-rich fruits, with kale (caldo verde soup!), spinach, brussel sprouts, beets and red peppers heading the vegetable pack.
Rule nº5: when in doubt, do without
When temptation comes calling, or if you’re not sure about a calorie content of a specific meal, rather skip it or first do some research and then decide if it will fit into your diet plan. You’ll be surprised how often ‘real country fare’ is not all that fattening, when eaten in moderation that is. Just ask any nutritionist – the true Mediterranean diet is key to good health and longevity.