Guilt-Free Summer

Enjoy everything that summer offers — from BBQs to pool parties — with healthy tips from Medi-Weightloss.

For a season associated with carefree fun, summer, ironically enough, comes loaded with worries and concerns. Whether it’s anxiety over summer travel, a hectic social calendar or the demands of a housebound child, we’ve all experienced the unique demands of this most “relaxed” of seasons. For many people, getting their swimsuit figures provides an annual source of frustration.

As if losing winter weight wasn’t enough, summer itself presents myriad temptations in the form of BBQs, vacation splurges, and eating out with the kiddos. To get some tips for healthy seasonal eating — and a couple all-star recipes for your next BBQ — we talked to Jana Howell of Medi-Weightloss, the physician-supervised program that encourages healthy habits.

What are some of the struggles that summer presents for weight-loss and healthy eating?

Jana: Vacations are a big struggle for many people, as they’re synonymous with food indulgences. People also like the fruity, summery beverages, which are high in sugar and calories. Overall, the biggest hurdle of summer is that we eat and drink differently. You’re around your kids more and eating fun food with them. Part of what we do at Medi-Weightloss is provide alternative ideas to what you can order when you’re at restaurants, or what low-sugar drinks to have by the pool.

What are some  examples of healthy choices that people can make within their normal summer routines?

Jana: Kids always want to eat out, and fast food becomes an easy answer. Most places offer salads that are healthy so long as you’re mindful of the dressing and extras. Kids love Chick-Fil-A, and they offer grilled chicken nuggets. As far as drinking, sometimes the really pretty fruity drinks are full of calories and carbs. Use a non-caloric sweetener, like Crystal Light, or fresh-squeezed juices in small amounts. A vodka soda with lime is just 90 calories and zero carbs.

As for cooking at home or entertaining friends, one of the best things about the summer is that you can grill. If you’re grilling on the weekend, avoid sugary marinades and grill extras for the week. Also, remember to get active and take full advantage of the outdoors while it’s not too hot. Fort Worth has many things to do along the river, like the biking and walking trails. There are also a lot of indoor exercise options, such as Orange Theory, Pilates, and yoga. Make summer the time of year where you try them all and see which is the best fit.

What are some specific strategies for people who want to enjoy the BBQ, but also watch their weight?

Jana: Take advantage of summer fruits and vegetables, and bring your own food and drinks to share with others. For example, if the host is providing meat, then you can bring a fruit salad or vegetables to grill, or other low-carb sides such as tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and basil. Make sure to also bring your own drinks, and carry a cooler of low-calorie mixers or low-carb beer.

When it comes to meats, the leaner the cut, the fewer calories. You can mix it up, too: shrimp on the grill is fantastic. Remember, if you stick with leaner meats, you can have a bigger portion. Four ounces of chicken is 140 calories, whereas the same amount of steak contains 300 calories. Portabella mushrooms work great on the grill, and fruit for dessert is always a good choice.

Summer Recipes from Jana Howell and Medi-Weightloss

Grilled Zucchini

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 3 Tbsp light Italian salad dressing
  • 2 Tbsp fat-free Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend

Directions

  1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and lay on a piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Sprinkle Italian salad dressing, parmesan cheese, and Mrs. Dash on top.
  3. Close foil to create a pouch, and place on grill for 15-20 minutes.

Grilled Salmon with Herbs

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. Atlantic salmon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried drill
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Set grill to medium-high heat
  2. In a small bowl, combine oil, herbs, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Brush salmon with herb mixture.
  4. Grill 8 minutes or until salmon is opaque and flakes easily.