6 Steps to Bathing Suit Confidence

Summer is just around the corner and that means weekends will soon fill up with beach trips, pool days and afternoons in the sun. As a dietitian, I often get asked on what are some slimming secrets and increasing confidence tricks for being in a bathing suit all day. Consider some of these tips the next time you are packing up your sunblock and beach towels and heading outdoors!

Consider some of these slimming secrets for bathing suit confidence next time you are packing up your sunblock and beach towels for some fun in the sun!

1. Don’t Skip Breakfast/Meals.

Nothing good will come from this action so please do not consider it. Skipping meals or going long durations without eating signals your body to prepare for starvation and will slow down your metabolism. Just like your computer, your metabolism will go into “sleep mode” when not being stimulated for an extended period of time. This causes your body to aggressively store calories and will also offset your body’s hunger hormone levels. Basically, you will find yourself extra famished by the end of the day and will be more likely to overeat.

2. Avoid carbonated beverages and salty snacks.

Both carbonated beverages (even sugar-free ones) and salty snacks such as crackers, pretzels, Chex mix and the like can cause water retention and extra bloating. This is definitely not the recipe one wants for feeling svelte and confident all day in a swimsuit.

3. Do pack lean protein sources.

Foods that are high in protein will help you stay fuller longer. This will allow you to spend more time splashing and playing in the water and less time breaking to eat. Protein go-to’s can include eggs, lean meats, protein bars/shakes, low sugar Greek yogurts, unsalted nuts, white cheese varieties. Another perk to frequent protein intake is that it can also help ward off sugar cravings.

4. Focus on water for hydration.

Believe me, I know nothing sounds better than ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day but fueling your body with liquid sugar isn’t the best recipe for staying fit and trim. Confession: I’ll be the first to admit that plain water isn’t the most exciting thing in the world to drink. Take advantage of fresh produce this summer and create natural flavor enhancers by putting fresh cut fruit, herbs or vegetables in your water.

5. Fresh fruit and vegetables make great hydrating snacks.

Fresh produce is naturally high in water, fiber and antioxidants. Choosing fruit and vegetables as snacks help boost your nutrient intake. Natural foods do not have any added chemicals or junk in them, which can often be the culprit for bloated, upset stomachs.  Save yourself some time preparing fruits and vegetables and purchase pre-cut bags and containers from the grocery store to be beach-ready in a snap.

6. Above all- kick back and have fun.

Despite the season of being more active, I understand summer can amplify body image issues with wearing a swimsuit. With constant reminders of magazine covers touting to have the perfect bikini body, even the most confident of women can become over critical of themselves. Try not to let worrying thoughts about how you look overpower the fun you could be having with your friends, family and kids. Summer always comes and goes too fast anyways, so grab your shades, sunblock and let out a big “cowabunga”!

5 Foods to Stop Eating After the Age of 10

While driving to work the other morning, I heard the radio DJ announce that there was a certain restaurant that doesn’t serve ketchup to individuals over the age of 10. Of course it was a steak restaurant and we all know the unspoken rule that you should never have to order ketchup when having a good steak. As comical as this was, it got me thinking… “Shouldn’t there be a list of other foods we should stop eating after the age of 10?” Here is where my thoughts took me.

Child at Breakfast

  • Lucky Charms and other “kid-friendly” cereals: This sugar-sweetened, low-fiber cereal may taste great, but it may require three bowls to fill you up. Plus, consuming this amount of simple carbs in one sitting will not only spike your insulin levels in the morning, it will often lead your body to crave more carbs later on in the day.
  • Spaghetti Os: This canned spaghetti meal became famous in the 1960s and it hasn’t lost any popularity points since. While the low-fat nature of the pasta may seem appealing, don’t be fooled by the fact that you are really just eating a can of processed carbs. Besides, who really wants to eat pasta that was canned 5 years ago?
  • Chicken Nuggets: This is a powerhouse in the diets of most American children, yet still quite appealing to most adults. One of the biggest downfalls when it comes to chicken nuggets is the fat content. Good, healthy sources of fat can be a part of anyone’s diet, but this is referring to the fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, oils…not the ones from these little chicken bites. The other negative side of chicken nuggets is the fact they are very processed when compared to a natural piece of chicken.
  • Mac n Cheese and Hotdogs: I can recall one summer where I had this meal almost every day for lunch. When you put two processed foods like this together, you get high carbs, high fat (not the good kind), and high sodium. While this meal is simple to make, it is quite low in nutrients and often displaces opportunities to consume fruits and veggies.
  • Lunchables: The always-classic Lunchable is of course the meat, cheese and cracker combo. However, this has also been expanded to include nachos, tacos, and make-your-own pizza kits. The ones targeting older-aged children generally include a sub sandwich, chips and Capri Sun. Again, the main problem is that all of these food items are highly processed. Sugar-sweetened beverages and high-sodium sides are replacing nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

While many of these foods may bring back some fond memories of your childhood eating habits, the bottom line is that they are very poor sources of nutrients, regardless if you are an adult or child. Just because we don’t consume most of these items as adults doesn’t necessarily make them appropriate for our kids, especially since childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high.

Water A few simple tips for helping your children form better eating habits and becoming healthy adults:

  • Pack water bottles instead of Capri Suns or juice boxes for beverages in lunch boxes.
  • Include at least one fruit and one vegetable in all lunches. Try to keep your starches to just one item per meal (bread, crackers, potatoes, pretzels, cereal, granola bar, pasta).
  • Choose snacks that include a protein component: cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, peanut butter, Greek yogurt. Even better, pair the protein with a fruit or veggie serving: cottage cheese + pineapple, peanut butter + celery, cheese stick + grapes.
  • Limit consumption of meals that come from a box and practice making more meals from fresh, wholesome ingredients.
  • If you do purchase packaged food items, try to choose those with 5 ingredients or less. At least be able to pronounce and understand all ingredients listed.
  • Don’t purchase food from the same place you get your gas.


Assorted fruit

Hydrate Smart This Summer

iStock_000012344457XSmall1A really important question that I hear often is “how much water do I need to drink each day?” While this seems like a fairly easy question, the answer is not always so simple. Hydration needs are driven by a person’s activity level, age and can even be influenced by where they live. In fact, many reputable organizations have similar yet different hydration recommendations. The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume a total of 11 8-oz cups or 91 ounces total each day and men should consume 15 cups or 125 ounces total fluid each day.  However, most are familiar with the “drink 8 glasses of water/day recommendation” which is also fairly similar to the IOM’s recommendations. Factors that increase one’s fluid needs include: exercise, illness (running a temperature, vomiting and diarrhea), hot/humid temperatures and pregnancy/breastfeeding.

Many experts will contest that fluid intake can be counted from a variety of sources such as water, tea, soda, juice and even food. While it’s true that drinking a soda is considered drinking part of one’s fluid intake for the day, it is very hard for me to recommend this to my patients. Too often, our fluid choices contain excess calories and sugars that can cause blood sugar spikes and even unwanted weight gain. Calorie free water enhancers and diet sodas are two easy ways to consume fluids without the added sugars; yet, we cannot ignore the fact that we are still drinking impure fluids. Diet sodas and flavor enhancers like Mio or Crystal Light are composed of chemicals and additives such as sugar substitutes like aspartame. Research on the effects of sugar substitutes is quite controversial and I educate my patients that we should ideally be striving for a diet that contains the fewest amounts of chemicals and preservatives as possible. Another problem I encounter frequently is the fact that many people do not like the taste of plain water and would prefer it to be flavored.

Below are some tips from Springfield Clinic’s registered dietitian, Jessica Harris on flavoring water without the added chemicals and preservatives.

imgresTo add a zip of freshness to your next glass of water, try adding:

  • Watermelon cubes + basil leaves
  • Pineapple cubes + mint leaves
  • Lemon, orange or grapefruit slices
  • Cucumber slices + cantaloupe cubes + honeydew melon cubes
  • Sliced pears + thin slices of fresh ginger

Tips To Fight Fat

These are great tips that can be applied for either a weight loss program or healthy living in general!

photoPlan, Plan, Plan Ahead! Both my husband and I value eating healthy, clean, minimally processed food. We exercise at 6 a.m. which means that we always have to plan tomorrow’s meals the night before. Sure, there are many nights where I am tired and crabby, but I know that if I do not prepare my meals the night before, then my alternative would be going out for breakfast/ lunch. Now, I know healthier options can certainly be made at cafeterias and fast food restaurants; however, this does increase one’s processed food intake. In the picture here, you can tell it is getting late at night, but I have prepared some chicken breasts that both my husband and I will use in tomorrow’s lunches as well as my omelet and sweet potatoes that will be part of my breakfast meal.

Drink a glass of water first thing every morning. Adequate hydration goes hand in hand with leading a healthy lifestyle. Often, our first beverage in the morning is a cup of caffeine. Naturally, the body becomes dehydrated while we sleep. (This is why the color of your urine is darker first thing in the morning).  Try having a glass of water immediately after you wake up (and before you eat something). This is especially important if you are an early AM exerciser like myself. Make water your main beverage for the rest of the day. It is perfectly fine to have coffee or unsweetened tea as long as they are not trumping your water consumption.

Change up your workout routine. For years, my workout routine consisted of cycling, teaching Zumba and abs classes and doing additional strength-training on my own. While I was maintaining my weight fairly well, I wasn’t noticing any differences in my body fat %. It wasn’t until I started doing crossfit that I finally began to notice that my arms were more toned, my posture was better and my pants were fitting looser. What’s even more interesting is that I have actually gained weight; however, my body looks firmer and smaller since I have been able to decrease my body fat % while increasing my lean muscle mass percentage.

Make room for stress. I know this recommendation seems odd, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that stress can strike us at any time in our life and often it seems to strike back to back! For some of us, stress is a constant and many of us turn to food when we are stressed out. Since we can’t necessarily get rid of all stress in our life, we simply need to learn how to better manage it. Exercise and eating clean always make me feel positive about myself and when I am in a positive mood I can definitely tackle day-to-day stressors much easier.

It’s OK to indulge…on special occasions. When you walk into a restaurant, ask yourself, “Am I here because I am celebrating something or am I here because I didn’t want to cook dinner?” If you are dining out because you didn’t feel like cleaning up a mess at home, then try your best to stick to the healthier menu items. If you’re celebrating something special such as a birthday or anniversary, then it’s perfectly fine to order some less-healthy menu selections (as long as you are continuously practicing good moderation skills at home).

Woman Measuring StomachMake small, simple changes if slight weight gain has occurred. If you have noticed a small weight gain, consider making small changes to your diet vs drastic changes. I had noticed that one of my pairs of pants was fitting tighter so I stepped on the scale and noticed that I was three pounds heavier than I normally am. Upon reviewing my diet habits, I realized that I was consuming way too much almond butter and nuts throughout the week. All I did was cut back on how often I packed almond butter in my lunch and sure enough, that’s all it took to drop those few extra pounds.

Know your “red flags”. Become aware of those certain foods or situations where you may not always make the best decision. If you know that you always give in to “donut Fridays,” make sure you eat breakfast before work on those days and pack healthy snacks so hunger doesn’t tempt you to overindulge.

Clean Up Your Diet!

Shopping Basket Series

It’s that time of year again to open up the windows and give the house a good scrub-down. This is also a perfect opportunity to clean out the cupboards and fridge and fill them with better choices for a healthier you this Spring! Here are a few good places to start with your cleaning:

  • Throw out the vegetable oil! A fellow dietitian of mine stated that vegetable oil should be renamed “inflammation oil”. Contrary to its name, there are no actual vegetables in this popular oil. It contains a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and when these occur in abundance in our diets, it can cause inflammation in the body. Vegetable oil is one of the main oils used in processed foods. Opt for olive oil with marinades and dressings and coconut oil for high temperature cooking.
  • Rid your fridge of low-fat and fat-free salad dressings and replace them with healthy vinaigrettes.
  • Canned vegetables may be economical since they have a long shelf-life, but many of the vegetables’ nutrients are lost in the canning process plus they now are packed with sodium. Clean your fridge and make room for high-nutritious, low-calorie vegetables such as: spinach, red bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and carrots.
  • Replace sugar-sweetened cereals with natural oats. You can dress up plain oatmeal by adding puree pumpkin and cinnamon, berries, peanut butter or apples and chopped nuts.
  • Purge those cabinets of pop-tarts, sugary granola bars and Little Debbie snacks and stock up on a variety of healthy snack options such as nuts, yogurt, raw veggies dipped in humus, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit.
  • Make sure you have small water bottles that can be packed for lunches instead of Capri Suns, Juicy Juice boxes or soda.
  • Swap flavored yogurt for plain Greek yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt contains less lactose, more protein and is not loaded with added sugars like the flavored varieties are.
  • Ready to take on a health challenge? Throw out your pasta noodles and begin purchasing spaghetti squash. Once cooked, the squash can be scooped out into perfect spaghetti threads. If you have a food spiralizer on hand, you can do the same with butternut squash and especially a great summer vegetable choice like zucchini!
  • Spring kicks off the start of many seasonal fruits and vegetables. During the spring and summer, produce tends to be cheaper and tastes better since its now in season. Be sure to head to your nearby Farmers Market to enjoy local seasonal produce!


Beat the Heat

j0227611Below are heat-related tips from Springfield Clinic’s Deborah Albright, MD, Prompt Care. As always remember being in the heat and not replenishing fluids and staying hydrated can cause serious problems.

When temperatures are high what should the public look for if they work outdoors?

As with many environmental injuries—prevention is best. For athletes and people that work outdoors, more frequent breaks may be needed. It is also very important to push fluids which will help replenish fluids lost in sweat and prevent dehydration which may raise core body temperatures. Individuals that are very young or old are at a higher risk. Certain medications or recreational drugs like cocaine or alcohol may increase the likelihood of heat-related problems.

Why is hydration so important?   

Hydration is important because it will replenish fluid losses through sweating and prevents dehydration which can cause increases in core body temperature.

What happens when heat stroke occurs?

When a heat stroke occurs, the body loses the ability to regulate temperature and core body temperatures are likely to meet or exceed 104 F.  A heat stroke causes an alteration in the central nervous system(CNS) and can cause some patients to lose consciousness. During a heat exhaustion, patient body temperatures will be between 101 and 104 degrees and there will be no change in CNS status.

Should a person go to the hospital if these symptoms begin?

If a person has a temperature of 104 degrees and symptoms such as headache, delirium or loss of consciousness they should be brought to the hospital immediately. For less severe symptoms, patients should consult their doctor. Springfield Clinic  offers TeleNurse—available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer medical questions regarding symptoms. Springfield Clinic Prompt Care  is also available to treat mild illnesses and has on-site lab and x-ray capabilities.

Visit our four convenient locations in Springfield, Jacksonville and Sherman.
Prompt Care Main
Springfield Clinic Main Campus
East Building
1025 South 6th Street
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care West
Springfield Clinic Wabash
2200 Wabash Avenue
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
(except major holidays)
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care Jacksonville                             
1000 West Morton Avenue
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
(except major holidays)
217.243.6520 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care Sherman
Hours: 8 am – 6 pm,
Monday – Friday;
9 am – 6 pm weekends
400 St. John’s Drive
(except major holidays)
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541