Welcome back to our Ask a Nutritionist series featuring the Wel Nourished team! In this four-part wellness series, we are answering all your burning health questions, debunking food myths, and sharing resources to help you discover a happier health journey! In part one the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Wel answered some common food, health, and nutrition questions. In part two the team at Wel helped us discover the basis of how our nutrition can impact our mental health and the physical health of our brain. In this edition of our wellness series, you will find a Q&A with the Wel Nourished team where Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are sharing their tips and tricks on keeping the family healthy during all the summer fun!
Schools out for summer, which means pool parties, family vacations, and outdoor BBQs are here! It’s easy to let your regular routines slide amidst all the summer fun but the Registered Dietitians at Wel can help you prioritize summer nutrition for your family.
What are your thoughts on intense dieting solutions that people follow to lose weight during the summer? Is this healthy or necessary?
It is only normal that people start to focus more on their body image and health as the summer rolls around. It’s starting to get warmer and people spend a lot of their time in tank tops, by the pool in their bathing suits, or on vacation just after they spent a long holiday season eating foods that probably aren’t the healthiest. What’s wrong with this are the measures people are willing to take in order to meet a certain body image standard. These measures can look like extreme food restriction or over exercising. When we are restricting food or certain food groups, we are putting ourselves in a position to either wreck our metabolism, severely under-nourish our body, or become deficient in a certain nutrient. We are also putting ourselves at risk of hypoglycemia when we restrict food to a certain degree or over exercise. This cycle of yoyo dieting between holiday season and the summer time turns into a vicious cycle that sometimes may be difficult to recover from. Working with a Registered Dietitian at Wel can help you beat this sort of living and instead, live a healthy lifestyle consistently all year long.
Why is it important to manage stress from a weight loss point of view?
Stress management is very important when it comes to weight loss. When our bodies are stressed we produce a hormone called cortisol in excess, which can cause weight gain in our midsection. It’s also important for hormone balance and the reduction of sugar cravings. When we are stressed we tend to make more unhealthy eating choices than if we are not. At Wel, our Dietitians work to help our clients manage their stress so that we can help them lose weight successfully and healthfully.
What are some tips you have for choosing healthy options while eating out?
Eating out can often feel like a threat to your health goals. Follow these helpful tips to ensure you’re ordering healthy options that still taste great!
Check out the menu before heading to the restaurant:
Before you head to the restaurant, look up the menu and choose your meal before you sit down. We feel rushed or distracted once we’re seated at the table. Taking time to thoughtfully pick an entrée, before getting to the restaurant, allows you to choose a meal that aligns with your goals.
Choose the fruits and vegetables first:
At Wel we recommend making half of your plate fruits and vegetables and the other half of the plate a starch and a protein. The same pattern goes for eating out! Since fruits and vegetables are to make up half of your plate, choose an entrée that has a vegetable or fruit side that you are excited about. After you have found an option that would allow you to get in your fruits and veggies make sure the plate also comes with a protein and a starch. You don’t have to choose a salad as your entrée to eat a healthy meal. A healthy choice might look like a side salad, grilled steak, and roasted potatoes. Another healthy choice might look like chicken fajitas, 2 corn tortillas, and grilled vegetables.
Once that yummy meal gets to your table, portion out the amount that you are going to eat. The size of the palm of your hand is how much protein you should eat with each meal and the size of your fist is how much starch you should have. There’s no limit to fruits and vegetables; the more the better! If you’re in the mood for a food that is typically “unhealthy,” then don’t be afraid to play with the portion sizes. For example, if you’re craving a burger, then order your favorite burger with a side salad, or order the burger with fries and box up half of the burger and half of your fries for later. The most important part of eating out is remembering that portions are typically large and you do not have to eat everything on your plate. Don’t be afraid to put half of your meal in a box once it gets to the table.
What produce is in season during the summer and what is one recipe you’d recommend to make with this produce?
In my opinion, summer is the best season for produce. There are so many yummy fruits and vegetables to choose from! I am partial to anything stonefruit; peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots! This truly is their season to shine! One of my favorite meals that lets you mix and match all of your favorite stone fruits is a Stonefruit Flatbread. This meal is quick, easy, and so fresh. Any ingredients left over can easily be repurposed for a summer salad!
Stonefruit Flatbread Recipe
- Flatbread Pizza Crust (I like to use Trader Joe’s Flatbread Pizza Crust)
- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 sliced peach or nectarine (may also use plums or apricots)
- Balsamic glaze
- 1 cup Arugula
- Lightly brush olive oil on pre-baked flatbread.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of oiled flat bread.
- Layer sliced peaches or nectarines on top of mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bottom of dough is lightly browned.
- Pull flat bread out of the oven and top with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a generous sprinkle of arugula.
*Leftover balsamic glaze, olive oil, stone fruit, and arugula? Toss all those ingredients in a salad!
What are three tips you have to help moms get their kids to eat healthy while they are home during summer break?
Summer is a great time for moms to teach their kids skills in the kitchen and to focus on building healthy eating habits, as school is out and there are usually less obligations for everyone in the family. Here are 3 simple tips to help you naturally integrate healthy eating into your routine while on summer break:
- Let your kids help pick out your groceries. This could include helping you pick out produce at a roadside stand, attending a local farmer’s market, or going with you on your weekly grocery shopping run. The goal is to make it a fun and informative experience to get them excited about healthy eating.
- Make dinner a family affair one night a week. Including your kiddos in the process makes them way more likely to want to eat the food they are served. Start by choosing a recipe to make together, probably something that is fairly easy since it will likely take longer with the extra helpers. Let them help you pick out the ingredients at the store or help you find them in the kitchen before the cooking begins. Next, cook together. It may be helpful to purchase some kid knives, but let them help with most of the steps and try to teach them as you go. Finally, teach them how to set the table and plate the food. They will be so excited to eat what you all worked so hard to create and you will be making some special memories with them.
- Work with your kiddos to create a snack list of healthy snacks they will enjoy. Snack time can be a major pain point throughout the day for most moms, especially when their kiddos are home all day. If your kids are going to be wanting to eat all day long, it gives you the perfect opportunity to feed them nutritious food. Sit them down with a list you already created with healthy options you can buy for them at the store. Let them pick 3-5 of the options to have on hand for that week. Giving them a choice will not only teach them how to make healthy choices, but also take away the struggle of deciding which snacks to buy each week.
How can kids get exercise while it’s so hot outside during the summer?
Getting exercise during the summer can be quite the challenge, especially if you live in a place that is exceptionally hot (looking at you, Central Valley). But making sure your kiddos get in some activity throughout the day is essential. You can either find some fun water games or toys to keep everyone cool outside, or you can get creative inside with activities. Both are great options and will help keep everyone healthy and active throughout the summer.
Some great water options that promote exercise are:
- Splash pads
- Water guns
- Running through sprinklers
- Sprinkler under a trampoline
- Slip and slide
- Water balloons
- Going to a waterpark
- Find a friend with a pool and play pool games like sharks and minnows
Some fun indoor activities are:
- Creating an obstacle course
- Playing “the floor is lava”
- Going to a trampoline park
- Going to a kid’s museum with active activities
- Joining a dance or gymnastics class
Some of these activities may take some planning, but keeping your kiddos healthy and active throughout the summer will be so beneficial to both you and them. Let’s make some fun memories this summer while promoting health and exercise!
We hope that you found this conversation on summer nutrition for the family encouraging and informative! If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for part four of our Ask a Nutritionist series coming soon! In the meantime, stay in the know with all the organic happenings over on Instagram and give the team at Wel a follow for more wellness and nutrition tips. If you have more questions to ask a nutritionist, leave a comment below and we will try to answer them throughout the series.