Summer Slim-Down meal plan: Week 8
Follow our eight-week summer meal and fitness plan to look and feel your best, without feeling deprived. This week: Eat slowly and eat earlierBy Melissa Greer
Your eight-week Summer Slim-Down plan is coming to an end and you’ve only got one week to go! But don’t suddenly stop eating well at the end of this week.
“Whatever you’ve been doing to lose weight, you have to do to keep the weight off,” says registered dietitian Mary Bamford. “This is what you’re learning to do for life, so make sure you find things you’re going to like for life.”
Quality, quantity and timing
One of the most important things to keep in mind for the future, says Bamford, is that “quality, quantity and timing of food matter.” In previous weeks we’ve talked about choosing healthy foods that provide you with essential nutrients and energy. We've also discussed portion sizes and the number of calories you should be consuming at each meal and on a daily basis.
In Week 3, Bamford emphasized the value of a hearty breakfast as fuel for your day. While that first meal is essential for kick-starting your energy, breakfast is also important for preventing cravings that cause you to overload on a large dinner. Bamford says having your largest meal at night is not productive for your weight loss.
Ideally, it’s better to eat dinner earlier, around 5 p.m., says Bamford. She adds that she doesn’t encourage a later dinner, but if you’re getting home from work around 7 or 8 p.m., that’s sometimes just how your day will go.
If your schedule prohibits you from eating an early dinner, Bamford recommends you split your dinner and have half earlier (possibly while you’re on the go), around 4 p.m. Then, have the other half later when you get home.
“It should be the carbs that you eat earlier and then have your protein and vegetables later,” says Bamford. That could mean you grab a slice of your favourite bakery’s bread, and a small piece of cheese for an earlier bite, and then sit down to eat the meat and vegetable portion of your dinner when you get home.
Always on the go?
If you’re routinely on the go, however, Bamford recommends keeping a stash of protein-rich foods with you to avoid eating out.
“It’s easy to get carbs when you’re out and about but it’s hard to get wholesome sources of protein,” she says. To combat the convenience of reaching for fast food, Bamford suggests keeping on hand wholesome meal-replacement bars, hard-boiled eggs or cans of tuna.
Savour your meals
Ideally, you’re not always running around and you'll have time to sit at the dinner table and enjoy your meal. “Eat at the table with no distractions and take your time when you eat,” says Bamford. That’s going to be the ideal environment to eat healthfully and be most aware of what you’re consuming, she says.
Bamford also suggests finding a support group—whether with your gym or a friend—to help maintain these healthy lifestyle changes.
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Web exclusive, July 2011