Hello summertime! Wimbledon is over and if you are fortunate to be going away, the heady nights of sun, sea and sex (if you are that lucky!) are just around the corner. I joke but, for many, holidays can be a real challenge - the last minute panic to be beach body beautiful, how to keep healthy AND enjoy oneself with carefree spirit, and how to keep an element of resolve when faced with cheap but hugely drinkable Rosé (is it noon yet?). Summer can be very seductive socially speaking. For many, being social and being healthy don’t seem to go naturally hand-in-hand; the perception is that living healthily means being abstemious at spirited social events. After a pre-supper cocktail (or two), even with the best of intentions, willpower dissolves once the canapés arrive. So how do we find the balance of happy indulgence versus healthy living? If it's only every-so-often, then I say let your hair down! But if restaurants and parties are a regular feature in your social calendar, here are a few simple tips to keep you and your health on track this summer.
Firstly, a few rules around the booze!
*Eat before you drink and make sure the meal includes protein
*Drink water between each alcoholic drink
*Drink a pint of water before bed (even if you’ve done the above)
*Avoid sugar-filled and/or low-calorie mixers
*Avoid mixing your drinks
*Drink slowly, have an awareness - sip with grace!
And how to manoeuvre eating out without bulging out!
Why not Google the restaurant’s menu beforehand and mindfully pre-order – and stick to it? If you pre-plan your order just after you’ve had lunch, you’ll be nicely full and much more inclined to make a better choice.
Say ‘no’ to the bread basket
Yes, it's freshly baked, warm and smells delicious and as that first bite hits your brain, you suddenly devour the entire basket (the equivalent to an entire meal!) before even placing our order. Sound familiar? I like to think of every bite as a pathway to health and I don’t want to waste any bite on “empty” food. Wait to order a delicious, nourishing, mouth-watering meal instead of numbing hunger with a bucketful of insulin and inflammation! Better to gently take the edge off hunger (especially if your table isn’t booked until 8pm) with half an avocado on a healthy cracker at home or work before you head out.
A study from the University of Illinois found that a group of people dining out will generally order similarly to the first person who orders. So, if the first person you’re eating out with orders a burger and chips, others are likely to follow suit and you’ll feel compelled (often without even realising) to do the same. Get in there first and let others follow your (healthy) lead.
Keep it simple
Go straight to the fish or meat sections and ignore the pasta and pizza! Opt for grilled fish, steak, chicken or seafood with vegetable dishes where possible. Whatever type of restaurant you’re in, whether an Indian, sushi bar or Italian, stick to protein and vegetable dishes - you can’t go too far wrong. Vegetarian options in some restaurants can often be limited to pasta or cheesy dishes, so opt for two starters or a few side dishes instead.
Sweet talk the staff into swapping
Never be afraid to request a change to what's on offer - for instance, if your meal comes with fries, swap it for a side salad. Similarly, don’t be afraid to request a tweak to the cooking - ask for fish to be grilled instead of fried, sauce to be served on the side (especially if you don’t know exactly what’s in it), or olive oil and lemon juice to be swapped for dressings. If the menu is unforgiving, order two sides instead of one large main. Also, healthy side orders can make delicious main dishes. Most restaurants will be happy to help, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Always have a green side order
Whether it’s a regular table salad, wilted spinach, steamed broccoli or a serving of green beans with olive oil, always, always, have something green on your table.
Be mindful of your meal
We're all aware of the temptation to focus on our phones rather than our dining companions...! I see it everywhere and can’t pretend I haven’t done it myself. How can we savour our food and friendships if instagram is holding our attention? Put your phone down and concentrate on the company you’re with and the meal in front of you. This is a simple act of the buzzword “mindfulness”. Savour each mouthful and give food the attention it deserves – fully enjoy every delicious mouthful and eat with grace, chew and taste each bite, and cherish the experience of sharing good food with good people.
Don’t have dessert ‘just because’
You’ve just eaten a meal – how much more food do you really need? This is an internal dialogue to have with oneself. Do you really need a pudding, too? Will you truly enjoy it? How will you feel after eating it? Happy and nourished? No, you’ll probably feel guilty, a little sick and uncomfortably full. So have it if you really want it, occasionally, but not ‘just because’. Don’t fall into the trap of eating food – especially sugary puds – just because it’s something you’ve always done or because it’s “normal”. Be smart. Remember, it is the choices that we make consistently every day that have the biggest influence on our health.
If you fancy a treat, choose ONE thing
Choose one “treat” - have a slice of bread OR the wine OR the chips OR the pudding - not all four!
ONCE a week
And lastly, choose ONE party or evening per week to just enjoy yourself and not apply rules to. As we know, too many rules will only get broken.
Happy Summer everyone x