Your guide to looking and feeling great this summer

How to eat your way to feeling fabulous

Summer time is almost here, and you may want to consider a few tweaks to your diet to look and feel your best. To help you on your way to having an amazing summer, we have put together a list of things to consider to keep you feeling fantastic.

Strict diets don’t work

Pick up a magazine and you are likely to find a diet claiming to transform and cleanse your body for summer. This usually involves banning a lot of foods and strict rules around eating that can leave you feeling flat and disheartened. 

Food is about enjoyment as well as nourishment. Labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can lead to guilt around eating particular foods and disordered eating patterns. Instead of deprivation, we need to focus on increasing the variety and quality of the foods in our diet.

It’s best for the bulk of the foods we eat to come from unprocessed foods like vegetables,

fruit, lean protein foods, wholegrains, milk and yoghurt (or alternatives) and to steer clear of the highly processed foods most of the time.

Portion size is important

Choosing the right portion size is important for everyone whether you are at a healthy weight or wanting to shift a few kilos. 

One quick way to determine whether your portion sizes are in check at meal times is to make sure your plate (or lunch container) is balanced:

1. Fill ½ of your plate with vegetables/salad

2. Fill ¼ of your plate with lean protein foods (red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs)

3. Fill ¼ of your plate with slow release, high fibre carbohydrate food (brown rice, quinoa, grainy bread)

4. Add a small amount of healthy fat like olive oil or avocado 

This is a winning combination for keeping you feeling energised, full for longer and to get the balance of nutrients our bodies need.  For most people, its vegetables and salad that need a boost as their protein and carbohydrate portions are taking over.

Avoid having too much of a good thing 

There are a number of healthy foods that we tend to eat too much of in one sitting., Although they are good for you in small amounts, overdoing it can push up kilojoule intake considerably. Consider the following:

Avocado

  • It’s a great source of heart healthy fats and vitamins, but if you are eating ½ an avocado in one sitting, it’s probably too large a portion 
  • 30g or 3 thin slices is a healthy serve size

Nuts and seeds

  • Unsalted nuts pack a nutrient punch coming from healthy fats, fibre, protein and a host of minerals and vitamins. They are high in kilojoules and it’s easy to eat more than you realise.
  • 30g or a small handful per day (about 20 almonds or 15 macadamias or 9 walnuts)

Salmon

  • This oily fish is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids but pre-cut portions are often around 250-300g.
  • Aim for 120-150g per serve

Meat

  • Lean red meat is a rich source of bioavailable protein, iron and zinc.
  • 120g as part of a meal (or the size and thickness of your palm), and no more than 500g per week cooked red meat

Take note of what you are drinking, not just eating

Being well hydrated in the warmer months is important for feeling energised and alert, but try to choose your fluids wisely to maintain a healthy weight. Liquid kilojoules add up and many beverages can contain the same amount of energy/kilojoules as a meal, without the fullness factor. 

Soft drink, flavoured milk, flavoured waters and iced teas all contain high amounts of carbohydrate from added sugar and are best avoided. Even seemingly healthy drink choices like fruit juices and smoothies can be very high in kilojoules from naturally occurring sugar in fruit. 

Alcohol is another big contributor of liquid kilojoules to the diet that can hamper weight loss efforts. Cutting down on alcohol can have a big effect on weight loss by eliminating excess kilojoules. 

So, it’s probably no surprise that water is the big winner as the primary fluid for hydrating your body. Get creative and flavour a jug or bottle of water with slices of fruit and torn herbs (watermelon, mint and lime is sublime!).

Take advantage of summer’s fruit and vegetable bounty

Peaches, nectarines, cherries and mangoes are some of summer’s biggest pleasures and certainly make it easier to get the recommended 2 serves of fruit in per day. 

But the goodness doesn’t stop there, with vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beans and leeks all in peak season. So get creative with fresh produce and reap the benefits of increased vitality. Plant based foods provide many phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals which are integral to the healthy functioning of every cell in our bodies. Phytochemicals are beneficial compounds found only in plant foods and can protect against disease.

Is your life out of balance? Try the Wheel of Balance today to help you prioritise and get things back on track!

NAQ Nutrition

NAQ Nutrition is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation. We aim to shape the health and wellbeing of our community through informed food choices. Food is life. Food is you. 

Healthy Food Healthy Planet is NAQ Nutrition’s community meal planner and recipe website. It aims to provide people with simple, healthy recipes that are tasty and won’t break the bank.