Try nutritious alternatives to traditional temptations

Here’s to a healthy summer

Warm weather can conjure up delicious thoughts of ice cream cones, s’mores by the campfire and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. But according to Elizabeth DeRobertis, nutritionist for the Slim•Fast Foods Company, you can find great-tasting healthier alternativesto these traditional warm weather temptations.

“The trick to losing or maintaining your weight is to realize that it is a year-round commitment,” says DeRobertis, who is a registered dietitian. “If you’re tempted by the delicious offerings of this time of year, look for healthy alternatives — sometimes changing one thing in a recipe can turn it into a good choice. It’s as simple as eating low-calorie sorbet instead of ice cream or turkey burgers instead of hamburgers — both are delicious choices.”

Clockwise from top: Apple Berry Blaster, Strawberry Banana Sipper and Orange Cream Shake

Following are some of DeRobertis’ strategies that will help you maintain healthful eating habits throughout the warm weather months.

Watch portion sizes

An important tip DeRobertis stresses is to watch portion sizes and calorie content and take responsibility for food intake by keeping a daily food diary, which will help you see how a bite of this and a bite of that add up throughout the day.

“Studies show that 30 percentof people significantly underestimate the amount of food they consume,” DeRobertis says. “This points to the need for more lower-calorie and portion-controlled foods that take the guesswork out of eating healthy, especially in the summer when we tend to be on the run.

“Incorporating meal replacements into your diet makes it easier to stay in control of caloric intake and portion sizes.”

Examples are meal shakes and bars.

Numerous published clinical studies in medical journals show that weight management programs that incorporatemeal replacements may help people lose weight and keep it off long-term.

“Meal replacements are not only helpful tools that provide balanced nutrition, they can also be fun,” DeRobertis says. “Try mixing up a smoothie with fresh fruit, fat-free milk and Slim•Fast Powder — you can really customize them to please your palate.”

Focus on fruit

“With all of the delicious fresh fruits available at this time of year, it’s so easy to make healthy choices,” adds DeRobertis. “Make fruit your dessert or between-meal snack, or put fruit in a smoothie for breakfast.

“After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it revs up the metabolism so you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. You’ll also be less likely to overeat later in the day.”

Interestingly, incorporating meal replacements into your diet may increase intake of fruits and vegetables. One study published in the November 2001 supplement issue of Obesity Research Journal showed that participants who used meal replacements in a dietician-led group not only maintained their weight loss butalso achieved the National Cancer Institute’s goal of five fruits and vegetables a day, which is a cornerstone of successful weight management.

Snacking can be good

Snacking can be key to keeping your metabolism running high. When combined with smaller meals, snacking may help to increase metabolic rates because eating increases the metabolism by up to 40 percent.

DeRobertis suggests snacking on fresh fruit or vegetables, nonfat yogurt or low-fat string cheese to stave off hunger and lessen the chance you’ll overeat at mealtime.

Stay in control

If you’re going to a warm weather gathering away from home, DeRobertis suggests bringing a dish of your own to ensure there are light options available. Good choices include shrimp cocktail, vegetableplatters, fresh fruit salads or green salads.

“When the party is at someone else’s home, you never know what will be on the menu. Bringing something nutritious helps you keep some control over what you eat,” says DeRobertis. “Your host will appreciate it, and other guests who are healthy eaters will thank you.”

Another tip from DeRobertis: Eat slowly and savor each bite —enjoy the company and ambiance — as well as the food.

Talking smoothie

A cool smoothie might seem like just the ticket for a hot day, but DeRobertis says to beware of the high fat smoothies that are popping up everywhere.

“To cool down this summer, skip those store-bought smoothies that don’t offer much except empty calories and make a nutritional, low-fat smoothie by blending together your favorite fresh fruit, fat-free milk and Slim•Fast Powder,” says DeRobertis. “It’s just as refreshing and delicious, and you’ll know you’re getting balanced nutrition.”

Meal replacement powders are available in more than a dozen delicious flavors and provide the nutrition of a balanced meal, delivering up to 24 vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and E in each serving.

For each recipe, blend all ingredients together in a blender for 40 seconds and pour into a tall glass.

Raspberry Refresher

Orange Cream Shake

Apple Berry Blaster