Your slim-down summer diet plan

Feel confident in your bikini with these diet tips to help you slim down and beat the bloat

Your slim-down summer diet plan

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2012

Moderation, not starvation

The good news is that we now know the key to shedding that winter weight involves moderation rather than severe restriction. ‘If you’re on a strict diet, there’s always going to come a time when something will get in the way to make you ‘break’ it, like a party or your birthday,’ says Halifax registered dietitian Tristaca Curley, owner of the nutrition counselling service Fuel with Food. ‘People who go on restricted diets often gain back more than they lost.’

Plus, she adds, ‘When you restrict a lot of calories, the body recognizes starvation mode. It starts conserving energy as fat and your metabolism slows down.’

The trick is to identify the one or two foods you simply can’t give up, and have those treats a few times a week.

Small changes can make a big difference, such as swapping 2% milk for skim, white bread for grainy, and skipping the butter or cheese in your sandwich. ‘Make sure every meal and snack has one fruit or one vegetable for nutrient-dense fibre,’ says Curley, ‘and that half of your dinner plate is filled with vegetables.’

8 ways to banish bloating

Add fibre. ‘You should make a habit of getting consistent fibre intake throughout the day,’ says Curley.

Drink water. Herbal tea is good, too. Peppermint tea soothes the digestive tract to reduce bloating.

Cut down on caffeine. ‘It could cause water retention,’ says Curley.

Go easy on alcohol. ‘It can cause water retention the following day,’ Curley explains.

Watch your salt intake. The sodium content causes you to retain more water weight. The recommended daily limit is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams.

Go easy on hot spices. They can irritate your stomach and cause bloating.

Take a walk post-meal. It will help you pass gas to release air trapped in your stomach. ‘Light to moderate exercise after a meal will assist in digestion and decrease bloating,’ says Helen Vanderburg, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, and the owner of Heavens Fitness in Calgary. (Check out her fitness plan here.)

Tips for cutting calories

‘ Decide on one major, realistic goal, such as aiming to lose five pounds. Then create smaller, weekly goals, such as aiming to lose half to one pound per week, so you can easily monitor your progress and stay motivated.  Use a smaller plate so that you’re aware of portion sizes, and don’t mindlessly overeat.

‘ Avoid eating on the run when you can. Says Curley: ‘Mindful eating means sitting down to eat, and not combining it with another activity such as watching television.’

‘ Make a smoothie with frozen or fresh fruit, or even veggies, if you’re in need of a snack.

‘ Offer to walk a neighbour’s dog, or arrange to meet a friend for brisk, regular ‘walks and talks’ instead of catching up via phone or Facebook.

‘ Carry a food and exercise diary, and be sure to update it daily.

‘ Put a photograph of a healthier you on the fridge door as motivation.

Your metabolism cheat sheet

Drink green tea. It contains catechins, antioxidants that have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes’and that amp up your metabolism and help burn more calories.

Eat more cinnamon. It increases insulin levels, which helps you process carbs more effectively’and it tastes delicious.

Check out our Get-Fit Quick Summer Workout Plan for tips on toning your beach body.

This article was originally titled "Summer’s coming! Love your body in a bikini" in the May 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!