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Published on May 08, 2014

Get the Skinny on Eating Smart this Summer

Take the Stress out of Healthy Eating

Join board-certified family practice physician Rachel Zurek, D.O., as she discusses mindful eating and how to make smart food choices. She may even share recipes for some of her favorite summer dishes.

The presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Palos Health & Fitness Center, 15430 West Ave., Orland Park. Register online or call (708) 226-2300.

Summer means backyard barbecues and countless graduation parties. But the one thing to not lose count of is calories.

When it’s hot, one of the first things people grab is something cold, usually in the form of a chilled beverage or ice cream, and that comes at a price.

“Chilled beverages are one of the biggest downfalls to people’s weight-management efforts no matter the time of year, but especially in summer, when there are more cookouts and parties,” says Rachel Zurek, D.O., a family medicine physician at Palos Medical Group. “When you are drinking something, it’s the same calorie-wise to your body as eating food. The body doesn’t care if you are drinking 300 calories, or eating 300 calories, it’s all processed the same way.”

Instead, Dr. Zurek suggests people reach for a tall glass of ice water with lemon. If ice cream is your weakness, opt for one made with Greek yogurt.

In the summer, people tend to reach for more fruits and vegetables because it’s refreshing, healthy and at its freshest, but it’s still important to keep portion control in mind. Be careful with high-starch foods, such as carrots, potatoes and corn.

When we eat outside, we tend to graze more, Dr. Zurek explains. “Keeping a routine and being mindful of your surroundings when eating is huge. When you sit down to eat, have preset portions on your plate. When you have no set meal times, like when you’re at a party, you definitely end up eating more.”

Dr. Zurek offers some tips to keep from packing on the pounds this summer:

  • Eat before going to a party, and make sure to get a balanced breakfast. It jumpstarts your metabolism for the entire day.
  • Don’t sit down or stand near the food tables. Being too close makes it much easier to graze and not even realize you are doing so.
  • Use a smaller plate. Divide your plate, using one-half for salad or veggies, one-fourth for proteins and one-fourth for a low-carb side dish, but keep it minimal.
  • Avoid cream-based foods, such as potato salad, Cole slaw.
  • Watch out for dessert; maybe have just a bite or two. You don’t have to have a huge piece of cake to feel satisfied.
  • Stay hydrated. People tend to sweat more in the summer and are much more likely to be dehydrated. Always get eight glasses of water each day.
  • Be aware of how many calories you are drinking.
  • Be active. Try beanbags or play with the children.
  • Consider bringing a healthy dish to the party – fruit or a green salad. “One of my favorite dishes to make is a spinach salad, using walnuts, lowfat feta, apple slices and a raspberry vinaigrette.”
  • Take an evening walk as a family. “This not only helps your food digest, but it helps you burn calories and sleep better at night. Plus, it’s a good bonding time.”

Dr. Zurek sees patients in two locations – Palos Primary Care Center South, 15300 West Ave., Orland Park, and the Women’s Health Center, 17333 S. LaGrange Road, Suite 103, Tinley Park. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Zurek, please call (708) 349-0747.