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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2018
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I love you, summer, but you are ruining my diet!

“I only had a handful of chips… a tiny scoop of potato salad… and just a little piece of cake.” Does this sound like you? It seems harmless enough, but if you’re trying to stay healthy, the average summer barbecue can leave you feeling less than celebratory. When you think about how many Americans are participating in barbecues, graduation parties, tailgating and various other events this summer, that’s a lot of potentially calorie-laden eating (and this is not even including the “delicacies” we find at county fairs and festivals!).

However, these social events do not have to ruin your diet. There is hope for healthy outdoor meals, especially if you watch the sauces and side dishes, and stay away from the chips and dips. Simple steps can make a difference whether you’re grilling for a crowd or bringing a side dish to an event.

Swapping simple alternatives to traditional classic dishes can mean the difference between enjoying yourself all weekend long or feeling lousy after overdoing it on one day. Moderation is key!

Here are the top summer foods to avoid and suggested alternatives:

1. If you can hold it in your hand, it might stick to your hips. Summer barbecues don’t have to be about hot dogs, brats, ribs and chicken drumsticks. Go for foods that require a knife and fork. Generally speaking, if your meat is considered “portable,” it’s probably not good for you! Grilling fish and lean cuts of meat like chicken breasts and even filet mignon gives diners the delicious, smoky, chargrilled taste synonymous with cooking outdoors — just be sure to skip the heavy sauces and sugary marinades.

2. Work on a healthy “color” during summer; don’t be too “white.” Of course this isn’t about your tan! Side salads that are “white” from mayonnaise are best avoided. Opt for a combination of purple and red potatoes or macaroni salad made with quinoa pasta and crunchy vegetables like shredded carrots, colorful bell peppers and fresh parsley to add more color and flavor than traditional side salads. Hold the full fat mayo altogether and substitute nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt, or a dressing of diluted vinegar, fresh herbs and a taste of honey.

3. Observe all the buns you can! Hamburger buns, that is. If you must serve burgers and dogs, 100 percent whole-grain/wheat buns pack more nutritional punch than the overly processed and refined white flour buns. White flour products have been stripped of beneficial nutrients like fiber, which help regulate our digestive system and keep us feeling full longer.

4. Keep the cooler light. So many unnecessary calories are consumed from beverages. Skip the sugar-laden sodas, punches, sports and energy drinks. Since these events are celebrations and very social, also be mindful of regular beer, wine and cocktails. Adding seltzer water and ice to wine helps keep the calories down and last much longer. Impress your guests and take the time to make and serve unsweetened iced tea or water infused with fruits, cucumbers or fresh mint! It will surely be a hit with all ages, and those who are drinking alcoholic beverages can alternate with water.

5. Spice up your dessert. Who really wants to bake desserts on a sweltering summer day? How about grilling some fresh tropical fruit and serving it with a dash of nutmeg? It’s not only fast, but simple. After the main courses are cooked, fruit can be placed on the grill while the other finishing touches are being made. This dessert is then ready by the time guests are seated. This treat is simple to make, guaranteed not to melt and will be a welcome and refreshing treat that’s easy on the waistline!

Kim Stoeger, MS, Clinical Nutritionist

Kimberly Stoeger, MS, is the clinical nutritionist and owner of Nutritional Healing, LLC. Her passion lies in supporting people’s health through evidence-based medicine (risks versus benefits of medications) and healing therapies through nutrition. Kimberly has her masters of science in human nutrition degree, and experience working with clients regarding weight and fatigue issues, sports nutrition, food sensitivities and allergies, and general health concerns such as high blood pressure, high glucose levels, high cholesterol/triglycerides, migraines, thyroid conditions and gut dysfunction. To learn more, call 920-358-5764 or email [email protected]

Website: [email protected]
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