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Eating Better at the Beach

posted Jun 26, 2015, 8:23 AM by Rachel Griffin   [ updated Nov 4, 2015, 12:35 PM by Julia Quam ]

Nothing beats hitting the sand with your chair and umbrella, but did you remember your cooler?  Even if you’re planning to treat yourself to a snack on the boardwalk, it is important to pack plenty of water and nutritious foods for long lasting energy in the exhausting heat.   What would a dietitian pack, you ask?

  • Frozen water bottles to act as ice packs for the food and then provide ice cold water as they melt
  • Hydrating foods such as melon, cucumber slices, oranges & grapefruit, baby carrots, and bell pepper strips
  • Substantial protein sources such as hard boiled eggs, unsalted nuts or natural nut butters, string cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese
  • Sandwiches on whole grain bread, wraps, or pita pockets filled with lower fat and sodium deli meats and cheese, hummus and vegetables, or nut butter with banana and honey
Shift your focus from eating and drinking “vacation food” and remember that a day out in the sand, sun, and waves can take its toll on your body.  While you’re out on the water, make it your priority to choose foods that will fuel and hydrate your body for an active day of swimming, walking, volleyball playing, and sand castle building.

If you do head up to the pier or boardwalk, monitor your portions of indulgent foods. Planning to share a pizza? Hold the pepperoni and sausage and top it with extra veggies.  Order a salad with oil and vinegar dressing (on the side) for a filling accompaniment to just one slice of pizza. Is ice cream calling your name?  Order a child’s size (yep,it’s just that simple).  Mindful eating experts know that the first few bites of an indulgence food are the best, with each subsequent bite being less enjoyable.  Savor those first few bites instead of rushing through an oversized portion. 

If you’re heading out to your favorite seafood restaurant, remember that seafood has numerous health benefits, but can be overpowered with frying, cream sauces, and lots of salt. To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your sea fare:

  • Choose baked or broiled over fried
  • Ask for sauces to be served on the side. Taste the seafood without the sauce first—you may even realize that you don’t even want the sauce!
  • Swap out fries or hush puppies for a steamed vegetable, baked potato (butter & sour cream on the side), tossed salad, or fresh fruit cup
    • If you do choose the fries or puppies, have them delivered with your meal. When these items are served as an appetizer, we are more likely to overeat and then not have room left for the more nutritious foods
  • Cool off a tall glass of water or decaffeinated iced tea with your meal. Even lighter options at restaurants tend to contain elevated levels of sodium and can leave you feeling thirsty!

Finally, if you’re heading for a buffet, start by walking around the entire buffet and identify the items that you must try.  Items on this list might be things that you wouldn’t normally make at home or couldn’t get anywhere else.  Fill your plate with taste-only portions of these items and go sit down to eat.  After you’ve savored that plate, reassess your hunger level.  If you’re satisfied, then don’t go overstuff yourself with a second plate!  If you aren't completely satisfied yet, maybe grab a few dessert tastes or another taste of your favorite food from that first plate. 

Armed with these tips, you’re sure to fully enjoy your beach trip while practicing healthy habits that can even be applied to your life back home.

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