Margaritas on the patio, nacho chips on the dock and your mom’s famous peach cobbler: Combine these foods with days when it’s too hot to work out, and it’s no wonder that your weight can creep up in the summertime. (A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that kids gained more weight during summer vacation than during the school year, and that makes sense for grown-ups, too.) Ramona Josephson, a registered dietitian in Vancouver, agrees. “I’ve found that people have more trouble with weight gain over the summer than they do over the Christmas holidays—often because the summer offers weeks and weeks of casual eating and socializing.”
It doesn’t have to be that way this year thanks to this meal plan, which was developed by Josephson, creator of the online weight-loss program, The 90-Calorie Deal. Based on the Dietitians of Canada’s nutritional principles, Josephson’s program divides all foods—from home-cooked to fast food—into 90-calorie portions called “deals” (including “freebie” foods that ring in at 20 calories or fewer). Just mix and match the deals to create a day’s worth of meals that suit your palate and your waistline.
Choose from easy and yummy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. One choice from each adds up to about 1,350 calories a day—and a diet of 1,350-1,500 calories will certainly promote weight loss for most women, says Dr. Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network and chair for obesity research and management at the University of Alberta. Boosting your daily intake to 1,500-1,700 calories might make the diet even more sustainable over the long haul, he adds, which gives you some wiggle room for the odd treat.
Try this easy meal plan in conjunction with our summer fit plan, and you’ve got a recipe for your healthiest, most delicious summer ever!
BREAKFAST: Choose one of the following THREE-deal, 270-calorie breakfasts:
1 omega-3 egg 1 deal
Cut-up veggies (e.g., onion, mushroom, tomato) freebie
1 slice whole-wheat toast 1 deal
1 cup fruit salad 1 deal
Bonus! According to research from Louisiana State University, overweight and obese women who ate a protein-packed breakfast as part of a low-fat diet lost 65 percent more weight and had an 83 percent greater reduction in waist circumference than women who had a bagel-only breakfast containing the same amount of calories.
3/4 cup (175 mL) low-fat plain yogurt 1 deal
1/2 cup (125 mL) skim milk 1/2 deal
1 banana 1 deal
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh or frozen berries 1/2 deal
Whirl together in blender.
Bonus! Milk and yogurt are good sources of vitamin D, which may help reduce your risk of endometrial, colorectal and breast cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
1/2 small whole-wheat bagel 1 deal
1 hard-boiled omega-3 egg 1 deal
1 medium fruit, such as an apple or pear 1 deal
Bonus! A recent Swedish study found that eating whole-grain breads at breakfast can help keep blood-sugar levels in check for much of the day, leading to improved concentration and short-term memory.
LUNCH: Choose one of the following FOUR-deal, 360-calorie lunches:
FRESH HERBS & COUSCOUS SALAD
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped onions, zucchini and pepper, sautéed with vegetable-oil spray 1/2 deal
1/2 cup (125 mL) black beans or 1/3 cup (75 mL) chickpeas 1 deal
Fresh herbs such as basil or oregano freebie
1/2 cup (125 mL) cooked couscous 1 deal
1/4 cup (50 mL) crumbled feta cheese 1 deal
1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil 1/2 deal
2 tsp (10 mL) red wine vinegar, or to taste freebie
Mix cooked veggies, beans and herbs with cooked couscous. Drizzle with dressing. Cool. Top with feta.
Bonus! Beans are a good source of soluble fibre, which helps ward off type 2 diabetes by controlling blood-sugar spikes.
GAZPACHO SOUP AND CRACKERS
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped celery, cucumber, red onion and garlic 1/2 deal
3/4 cup (175 mL) Italian-style stewed tomatoes 1/2 deal
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable juice or tomato juice 1/2 deal
Splash of red wine vinegar freebie
Salt and pepper freebie
3 Tbsp (45 mL) hummus 1 deal
1-2 crispbread crackers 1/2 deal
1 medium fruit 1 deal
Briefly whirl veggies, stewed tomatoes, juice and red wine vinegar in blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled with hummus and crackers.
Bonus! Raw garlic is a rich source of heart-healthy compounds called thiosulfinates. Too strong, you say? Just crush the garlic and then briefly bake it, to retain most of the beneficial thiosulfinate content.
TOMATO & TUNA MELT
1/2 cup (125 mL) canned tuna, water-packed 1 deal
2 tsp (10 mL) low-fat mayo freebie
2 slices whole-wheat toast 2 deals
1 slice each tomato and red onion freebie
1/4 cup (50 mL) grated cheese (or 1/3 cup/75 mL low-fat cheese) 1 deal
Mix tuna and mayo. Top each slice of toast with tomato, onion and then cheese. Put under broiler for a few minutes until cheese melts.
Bonus! A new study in Neurology found that people who ate fish at least once a week had a 35 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease— possibly due to the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.
DINNER: Choose one of the following FIVE-deal, 450-calorie dinners:
3 oz (85 g) grilled salmon 2 deals
11/2 cups (375 mL) grilled or roasted veggies 1/2 deal
1 cup (125 mL) cooked brown rice 2 deals
2 cups (500 mL) torn spinach leaves with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) sliced almonds + low-fat dressing 1/2 deal
Flavour salmon and veggies with lemon, lime or your favourite fresh herbs, such as dill or rosemary. Spritz veggies with vegetable oil spray and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, or grill in foil on barbecue. Cook rice in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth.
Bonus! Choosing whole grains such as brown rice may help protect your eyes. Researchers at Tufts University discovered that study participants who ate the largest amount of refined carbs, such as white pasta and white rice, had the highest risk of age-related macular degeneration.
FAST, EASY STIR-FRY
4 oz (115 g) lean beef, chicken or shrimp 2 deals
11/2 cups (375 mL) veggies such as broccoli, carrots, peppers and cabbage 1 deal
2 Tbsp (25 mL) teriyaki or hoisin sauce freebie
1 cup (250 mL) brown rice or whole-wheat pasta 2 deals
Spritz pan with oil spray and sauté meat and veggies. Add sauce. Serve over rice or pasta.
Bonus! Diets loaded with kaempferol (a flavonoid found in broccoli) were associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer, according to a 2007 study of 66,940 women. Diets containing high amounts of luteolin, another flavonoid found in carrots, peppers and cabbage, were also associated with a 34 percent reduced risk of the disease.
FAST-FOOD GRILLED CHICKEN BURGER
1 bun 2 deals
4-6 oz (115-170 g) grilled chicken breast 2 deals
2 tsp (10 mL) mayonnaise-type spread 1/2 deal
Slices of tomato, lettuce freebie
1 large lettuce & vegetable salad with low-fat dressing 1/2 deal
Bonus! A UCLA/Louisiana State University study of more than 17,000 adults found that people who regularly eat salads and raw vegetables have higher levels of folic acid and vitamins C and E—all crucial for a healthy immune system—than non-salad eaters. A bit of fat in the dressing helps nutrient absorption.
SNACKS: Enjoy a one-deal snack and a two-deal snack each day. Choose one of these ONE-deal, 90-calorie snacks:
- 1 medium fruit, such as an apple, orange, pear or banana
- 8 oz (250 mL) skim milk latte
- 12 plain almonds
Bonus! Flavonoid-rich apples and pears were associated with a significant reduction in mortality from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Choose one of the following TWO-deal, 180-calorie snacks:
- 1 sliced apple spread with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) peanut butter or almond butter
- 8 walnut halves and 1 orange
- 1/2 small melon topped with 1/4 cup (50 mL) ricotta cheese and drizzled with 1 tsp (5 mL) honey
Bonus! Recent research from Penn State scientists found that plant-based omega-3s, found in foods such as walnuts and flaxseed, may help protect against osteoporosis.
TREATS: Choose up to seven of these per week:
- One 4-oz (125 mL) glass of red or white wine
- 1 light beer
- 40 mini chocolate chips
- 2 wine spritzers (2 oz/60 mL white wine mixed with club soda)
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) ice cream
DRINKS: Enjoy these calorie-free beverages throughout the day:
- Water and club soda (jazz it up with lime, lemon or orange slices)
- Clear tea or chilled herbal tea
- Black coffee, flavoured or regular
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