You probably have fond memories of the summer months you had off from school during your childhood. However, any break in your scheduled routine could spell trouble for a healthy diet.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, children gain weight three times faster over the summer. The likely causes are a lack of exercise and increased access to snacking all day.
Naturally, the same thing can happen to adults if you’re suddenly unemployed or following any kind of irregular schedule. Get back on track with these suggestions.
Structuring Your Eating Habits
1. Schedule meals and snacks. Cut down on mindless eating by giving yourself a set number of meals and snacks at designated times throughout the day. You may be unaware of how many extra calories you’re consuming in between.
2. Sit down to eat. Focus on your food by taking the time to set the table with your good dishes and pull up a chair. Put out a simple centerpiece of fresh fruit, cut flowers, or pine cones.
3. Dine with company. Teach your children by example. Get together for family dinners and serve lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Three bean chili or grilled salmon on a bed of greens are two good choices.
4. Leave the table. Lingering around the table increases the temptation to take another serving of mashed potatoes. Wrap up the leftovers immediately and put them away in the refrigerator or freezer. Head into another room to continue talking with your guests.
5. Turn off the electronics. Concentrate on your meal and your companions. Take a break from the TV and all other electronic devices.
6. Keep a journal. For extra help, write down everything you consume. Buy a small pocket notebook or enter the information into your phone or tablet. It will make you think twice before eating that second piece of chocolate cake.
7. Study nutrition. If you’re unsure about which foods are best, consult expert resources. Talk with a dietician or pick up a diet book at the library.
8. Team up with a diet buddy. Make yourself feel more accountable for your diet and schedule. Work together with a friend to help each other make progress. You’ll be less likely to eat too many potato chips if you know you’ll have to tell someone else about it.
9. Plan menus. Organize your meal plan for the week ahead. Browse through a cookbook for healthy new dishes. Buy the required ingredients and leave the junk food behind.
Structuring Your Other Lifestyle Habits
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Adequate sleep enables your body to burn calories more efficiently. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.
2. Exercise daily. If you want to lose weight, try to exercise for at least 60 minutes most days of the week. Interval training, where you alternate between high and low intensity exercises, is especially effective.
3. Spend time with loved ones. Daily responsibilities can make it easy to lose touch with friends and family members. Avoid neglecting your personal relationships. Find time to spend with that friend who makes you laugh and gives you honest feedback.
4. Engage in relaxation practices. Relaxation and renewal are two items to add to your daily routine. Listen to gentle, instrumental music. Drink your morning coffee out on the balcony where you can watch your garden grow.
If your weight increased when your work hours decreased, a more structured lifestyle could be the solution for you. Eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and get to bed on time.