Eat Right This Summer

Picnics, parties, barbecues, ice cream stands — they’re all summer staples and all ways to derail your healthful eating plan. Three area experts offered tips on how you can eat right this summer

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


• “Plan ahead. Avoid going to a fair or festival really hungry and then end up eating a lot of unhealthy foods that are fried or high in refined sugar.

• “Bring healthful snacks: things like cut up fruits and veggies, peanut butter dip, cheese and crackers. Plan on eating your favorite festival treat as well. You will want to enjoy yourself and not feel like a ‘cheat day’ is going to derail your healthy eating goals. Plan on what one or two treats you want to enjoy, you can ask for a sample portion or split the item and share with someone else so you don’t overeat.

• “If you are attending a party and you don’t know what will be served, you can eat a small meal or snack before you go so you will control your portions. If there are healthy choices likes salad, fruits, vegetables and lean protein like chicken and fish, choose those items. Instead of snacking throughout a party, which makes it hard to monitor how much you are taking in. Make a plate once and commit to not eat additional servings.

• “Don’t forget that beverages can also contain a lot of calories from added flavors, sweeteners, creams, etc, and watch the size of shakes, smoothies and other mixed beverages you consume. Depending on the beverage, a medium or large can be 1,500 to 2,000 calories, your recommended calories for an entire day.

• “Make a point to enjoy conversations with friends and family. Take part in the activities at your summer parties so don’t find yourself mindlessly snacking the time away. Embrace summertime foods with a plan and enjoy all the season has to offer.”

Hannah C. Smith, registered dietitian and eastern region clinical nutrition manager at Rochester Regional Health


• “I preach moderation and balance in regard to eating right.

• “Make little substitutions at a time. They can make a big difference. We can make popsicles with real fruit instead of the ones with high fructose corn syrup. Make fruit kebabs or turkey burgers as a healthful alternative.

• “Fill up on veggie trays before chips.

• “For desserts, fruit is the healthy sugar.”

Maddie Nizamis , certified personal trainer, certified in fitness nutrition at Studio 22 Personal Training in East Rochester

Chodak• “It’s both a mind and body approach. That’s what I do with patients, myself and my family. Most people go into the summer and it’s the same old cycle of restrict, restrict, restrict and indulge, indulge, indulge. Being more mindful so you can enjoy life is the better approach. It’s a whole lot more than avoiding ice cream. I’d say, have it. Think about your motives and intentions. Bring mindfulness back.

• “I like to experience a location based on its food. If I’m going to Germany and I’m going to choose food that bring me joy. I’ll dive in and not feel bad about it. I’ll maybe walk a little more and balance out that indulgence by other ways to stay healthy.

• “At a family barbecue, it’s not really about the food. It’s the same old hot dogs and potato salad. The family is what brings me joy. Maybe I’ll steer myself toward healthier options. Remembering those intentions will gear your mind up towards what’s important.

• “Find your fiber. What we often do because we’re smart about nutrients is over think it and become immobilized. Instead of thinking about magnesium or B-12, let those go by the wayside and find the fiber. Those are plant-based foods. Most of us don’t get enough nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

• “Focus on the whole day of eating. Maybe for breakfast and lunch, fit in more plant-based foods. If you don’t get fiber at the barbecue you won’t have to work at it.

• “My hope is that for barbecues or vacations, people should enjoy their lives.

• “Stay hydrated, especially where there’s alcohol at a gathering and it’s sunny. Drinking enough water can help you get your head in the game and make better choices.

Jill Chodak, registered dietitian at the Center for Community Health & Prevention of the University of Rochester Medical Center