Recharge Your Diet This Summer

Diet-busting temptations are everywhere in the summertime. Baseball games offer fat-laden hot dogs, carnivals feature funnel cakes and caramel corn, and when it’s 95 degrees in the shade, ice cream sure sounds like the best way to beat the heat. If you’re following the South Beach Diet, you’re probably well on the road to reaching your goal weight, and not craving any of the empty-calorie, unhealthy foods you used to eat on a regular basis. But the lazy days of summer can often derail the best of intentions. Get the warm-weather season off to a healthy start by taking advantage of these summer-worthy weight-loss strategies.

Warm up to cooling seasonal produce
Only during the summer can you enjoy so many mouthwatering meals without even turning on your stove. So take seasonal advantage and create crisp, fresh salads based on dark leafy greens, chopped fresh peppers, tomatoes, scallions, and other veggies, and rounded out with lean protein. Chef’s salad, turkey salad with pistachios and grapes, and a turkey antipasto salad made with turkey, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese are just three satisfying offerings that can be assembled in minutes. If you’re on Phase 2, follow up your salad with a bowl of sweet, colorful berries. (For the best, freshest berries, check out what’s local at your supermarket or visit a farmers’ market in your area.) Make it easy to fix salads by picking up a few inexpensive kitchen tools. A salad spinner to quickly wash and dry greens, a mini food processor for chopping fresh herbs, a lemon reamer (lemons add great flavor to dressings) and a really good garlic press are just some to consider.

Don’t get snared in fat traps
At the beach, park, or street fair, be careful of vendor food, since the typical sugary, salty, and high-fat snacks can detour your diet in a minute. Instead, pack your own snacks in a portable cooler or a lightweight reusable lunch bag. Fill your bag with cut-up raw vegetables, part-skim mozzarella sticks, small bags of mixed nuts, and some air-popped popcorn. Reach for one of these when temptation strikes. If you don’t have time to pack a cooler, tuck into your purse one of the South Beach Diet Good to Go bars, which offer 9 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. Another great snack option is our South Beach Diet Sweet Delights dark chocolate covered sunflower seeds, which have just 100 calories and will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Drink up!
You should also carry a big bottle of water along so you can stay well-hydrated when you’re out enjoying the warm summer weather. If you’ve got a case of beverage boredom, let fresh summery herbs turn your drinks into something special. Float mint sprigs in a glass of seltzer water, or try muddling some mint with a sugar-free powdered drink mix in the bottom of a glass, then top it off with sparkling water and a twist of lemon or lime for a festive mocktail. Or make iced sun tea with an herbal tea of your choice and a mix of garden-fresh herbs and water in a large pitcher or jar. Chamomile and mint are incredibly refreshing in warm weather, or try a mix of lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon basil. Let the tea stand in a sunny place for a few hours, then strain and serve.

Trade your indoor workout for the great outdoors
Why be bored at the gym when you can find a buddy and head outside for some interval walking? Be sure to choose an area that’s not too crowded with cars and people, and that is well-lit if you decide to walk in the evening. If you do walk at night, wear a reflective top or a headband, and shoes with reflective material, so you will be visible. If walking’s not your thing, consider renting a canoe or sailboat with a friend and going out on a lake for an afternoon (just be sure to wear your life preservers).

Retool your dining out strategies
Preparing healthy, homemade meals should always be your first choice, but there will be times when you will want to dine out with your family and friends to celebrate the summer season. This time of year is ideal for enjoying an al fresco meal. Do some online research to see if you can find restaurants that serve meals outdoors and that have healthy South Beach Diet–friendly offerings.

Get enough ZZZZs
With longer daylight hours and no school, kids tend to stay up later at night. Chances are this means you do, too, and before you know it, you’re really short on sleep. Getting too little shuteye may actually cause you to gain unwanted pounds, research shows. And when you’re sleep-deprived, you can wind up eating more than you would if you were well-rested — just to counteract your sleepiness. Practice good sleep hygiene by turning your bedroom into a relaxing space, avoiding alcohol just before bed, and avoiding any stressful phone conversations that will keep you stimulated and wide awake. Instead of watching TV or checking your email, read a book or magazine or listen to soothing music until you get sleepy.

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