Lately I'm all about what to eat (as opposed to what not to eat) to look and feel great, and I'm also all about enjoying myself on vacation. So this July 4th weekend, go ahead and have that burger, beer, macaroni salad and whatever else is on the menu at your mid-summer fete, and then make the necessary diet adjustments AFTER the party. Here, 6 simple swaps that will help you lose a little water weight and keep calories in check:
1) Season Food Without Salt
Smart Swap: Add zing to your meals with salt-free seasoning blends such as the Original and Italian medley Mrs. Dash instead of salt, salt-based seasonings, and highly processed foods. The reason? You may be attracted to your saltshaker, but water is, too. When you take in higher than usual amounts sodium, you'll temporarily retain more fluid, contributing to that sluggish feeling, a puffy appearance, and extra water weight. Yuck.Get your sexy summer body and your confidence back!
2) Thirsty? Stick to plain H20
Smart Swap: There's nothing like a nice cold carbonated beverage when you're hot and thirsty but plain old tap water is a better way to stay hydrated-those tingly bubbles just end up in your belly, causing it to puff out more.
3) Up the protein, lower the carbs
Smart Swap: Use one slice of whole grain bread for your sandwich at lunch instead of two, and swap snacks like pretzels for nuts or seeds. At dinner, try to stick to lean protein sources and, if you must have a carb, try something made with whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Unless you're running a marathon this weekend, loads of high-carb foods like bagels, bread, pasta, pretzels, and cereal will just boost bloat. The science-y reason: as a backup energy source, your muscles store a type of carbohydrate called glycogen, and every gram of glycogen is stored with about 3 grams of water. But unless you have a vigorous exercise routine, you don't need all this stockpiled fuel. When you decrease the carbs, you'll temporarily train your body to access this stored fuel and burn it off. At the same time, you'll drain off excess stored fluids.
4) Cook your veggies
Smart Swap: Eat veggies, just eat them cooked-steaming is quick and easy. Fruit is gorgeous and plentiful right now so indulge in moderation. When you're trying to watch your weight it may be temping to fill up on a grapes, but if you want a flat belly filling it with all that volume is counter-productive: A half-cup serving of cooked carrots delivers the same nutrition as one cup raw, but it takes up less room in your GI tract. The same goes for fresh fruits: Compare the size of a few grapes to a few raisins. Big difference! While you're at it skip those notorious gas-causers like broccoli and cauliflower and cook up green beans, mushrooms, and squash-which is bountiful right now anyway.
5) Season food with belly-friendly flavors
Smart swap: some people love their food four-alarm spicy (I'm one of them)! Feel the heat for one night, then lay off the barbecue sauce and garlic for a few days while debloating. Give dishes a flavor boost with in-season fresh or dried herbs like dill, basil, mint, sage, tarragon, and rosemary. You can also use curry powder, lemon or lime juice-all perfect with fish or chicken. Try to avoid Black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, Chili powder, hot sauces, onions, garlic, mustard, barbecue sauce, horseradish, catsup, tomato sauce, vinegar; Spicy foods can stimulate the release of stomach acid, which can cause irritation.
6) Satisfy an oral fixation with seeds, not gum
Smart Swap: If you chew gum by habit or just like to bite down on something crunchy, reach for some nuts, like roasted or raw unsalted sunflower seeds. You probably don't realize this, but when you chew gum, you swallow air. All that air gets trapped in your GI tract and causes pressure, bloating, and belly expansion-none of which are swimsuit-friendly.
Get More Nutrition and Weight Loss Advice From Prevention:
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