By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD Wellness Manager, Lifestyle 180 Program, Cleveland Clinic
Are you looking to shed some weight before summer but cannot seem to take control of your poor eating habits? Chances are you fit into one of three categories: Junk Food Junkie, Emotional Eater, or what I like to call "Portion Distortion." Overcoming these eating patterns can be difficult, but with these slimdown solutions, achieving a fit and fabulous beach body has never been so easy.
Junk Food Junkie Slimdown
My first solution is for those who eat junk food mindlessly throughout the day. One of the best things you can do to jumpstart your summer slimdown is to repeat what you eat. Research has found that those who have the exact same meal once per day are more inclined to shed pounds. Try automating your breakfast with a hardboiled egg on a whole wheat english muffin with a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. This quick recipe will help sustain energy levels, fight cravings, and block fat cells from forming all day long. At snack time, exchange your classic potato chips for turnip chips. They are high in vitamin C and lower in carbohydrates than potatoes.
Makes 2 half-cup servings
1 turnip, sliced
A drizzle of olive oil
A sprinkle of sea salt
Slice 1 turnip. Place slices on a cookie sheet; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 425°F for about 25 minutes.
Emotional Eater Slimdown
The next category of individuals, the emotional eaters, seek the pleasurable effect food has on the brain, most commonly obtained by eating carbohydrates. If you can identify with this, then realize that you need to fuel your body, and not your stress. Eat something comforting, but not high in calories. Here’s a tip: Keep some sweet potatoes in the pantry for the next time you are feeling stressed and ready to overeat. Combined with a few other ingredients, you can make a sweet potato hummus that will keep you feeling and looking great!
Sweet Potato Hummus
Makes 4 servings (Serving size: 1/2 cup)
15 oz baked sweet potatoes, skin removed
1 (4-oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained, blackened skin removed
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh garlic, fine dice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
In a food processor, purée the sweet potato, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Process, until the mixture is fairly smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle the hummus with chopped parsley before serving.
Nutritional Information per Serving
Sodium: 460 mg
Sugars: 5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 3 g
Carbohydrate: 28 g
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jim Perko for Cleveland Clinic
If you find yourself reaching for a bowl of ice cream, try this tasty alternative instead. You’ll get all the satisfaction of an ice-cold treat, but at a fraction of the calories.
Peach Poolside Popsicle
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, chopped
2 large peaches, diced
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. A few chunks of fruit are fine for texture. Pour into a popsicle mold. Freeze for 3-6 hours and enjoy.
Portion Distortion Slimdown
Last but not least, there’s the Portion Distortion individual – no matter how much you try, you just can’t control your portions when it comes to eating your favorite foods. The trick to overcoming this is to fill yourself up before walking into a dangerous situation, like making dinner for the family or late-night munching. Do this by having a late afternoon snack of Greek yogurt, resistant starch, and a yummy "berry slurry." The yogurt will keep you satisfied, and the resistant starch (a non-digestible fiber found in corn, bananas and beans that can also be purchased in a powder form) will provide tons of fiber to keep you full. The berries offer the sweetness that you’re craving without all the added artificial sweeteners or extra added sugars!
Greek Yogurt and Berry Slurry
6 oz plain Greek yogurt
10 oz of frozen mixed berries
1 tbsp resistant starch powder
1 tsp agave nectar
Microwave frozen berries until thawed; add agave nectar and blend together with berries. Add berries to yogurt and mix together all remaining ingredients.
Brigid Titgemeier, BS, contributed to this article