When taste is more important than calories.

Every year, when I start work again after the summer vacations, my planner goes crazy, my phone rings all the time. New patients need my advice as they have made up their minds and their time has come- the time for a change in their everyday habits. Other patients beg for extensions over and over again because their “king size” breakfasts have defeated their good resolutions! 

You haven’t had the same behavior, you have been careful: you have eaten healthy and light food, and you haven’t eaten what you really like…’yet you feel your stomach bulging, your hands are so swollen you can’t wear any rings, and cellulite is covering your tights’. You thought you would have been fit after the vacations, actually, you have taken home a couple of kilos as souvenir. You are about to give up and eat everything you really like.

Don’t surrender to frustration as it may not be as serious as you think.

When you are on holiday, you usually eat in a different way. The meals are less regular, you may taste new kinds of food, you may nibble more than usual. The aperitifs on the beach at the sunset? The drink after dinner with your friends, some beer, some snacks? And then rich salads, fast meals, something refreshing- this is summertime: it is when you can choose freely.

This does not necessarily mean you have eaten too much: you may have eaten less than your normal servings but in a different way. So? Who is the one to blame? The water retention? Most likely. Therefore, water which soaks your body as a sponge.

Have you eaten those delicious small pieces of feta cheese in your salad? Have you eaten only very lean bresaola (of course, you are right: it is very lean). Olive? Tuna? Do you drink much water but you don’t eliminate anything? That’s it! During the summer, you have taken too much salt, and despite of abundant sweating and long walks on the beach, you haven’t been able to balance it out. We have too much salt because it makes our food tastier, but it costs a lot.

So, let’s take action: “cut the salt out and everything will go right” (quotation from facebook). continue drinking a lot of water and doing exercise.

Try to keep away from the following items which contain a lot of salt (precisely, sodium):

  • of course, salt: any kinds of salt (replace it with herbs to make your dishes tastier);
  • salad dressing (the ones with yogurt or herbs too);
  • bouillon cubes (with or without glutamate, they are very rich in salt)
  • soy sauce (even the one which is not savory)
  • olives, capers, and tinned food,
  • cold cuts: ham or Parma ham (even if you have eaten them with some fresh and light melon), bresaola, turkey slices, all kinds of deli meat(they always contain salt) 
  • tinned fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines,…)
  • smoked salmon(very tasty, but very rich in salt)
  • jelly meat;
  • cheese, the fresh farm one too
  • feta, parmigiano, pecorino cheese, and so on,
  • canned pulses (that sugary liquid contains salt)
  • and eventually, rice and corn biscuits, snacks, breadsticks, packaged bread, tortillas, sweets…

And then, always look carefully at what you want to buy: if it is spread with salt, leave it!

When you read the above list, be honest: have you eaten this food more often during the summer?If your answer is yes, cut them out for a few weeks (I know it: it is a tasteless diet, but it is very effective); be alert and keep away from salt as far as you can. So, read the packaging instructions very well because sodium is really widespread. Green light to: fresh fruit, raw vegetables, meat, eggs, fish, plain yogurt without fruit, all kinds of cereals (pasta, rice, barley, spelt…), died pulses, potatoes.

And water, water, water. During this detox period, drink more than usual, add at least 2 liters of water a day to what you drink during the meals.

Follow all the rules of the glycemic index, they are still good for you. Always respect your  servings, and use extra virgin olive oil moderately.  

On the other hand, if you don’t like savory food, and you have taken all the above items of advice, but you still feel bulging, turn to your nutritionist or dietitian: they will analyze your liquids through the bio-impedance exam. It is not invasive and it measures the quantity of liquid in your body, where it is stored and if food is the responsible for this water retention. They will give you some appropriate advice. 

But if everything is right, you will get rid of the water retention in a few days. You will feel light and you will smile again. Those extra kilos will just be an annoying memory.

About Stefania Cattaneo

I am Stefania Cattaneo and I am a Nutritionist Biologist. I have always been fond of sports and nutrition most of all related to the women. I work in my private office near Turin, there I see every sort of patients with really different problems and needs. Actually, I mainly deal with sports people and women who suffer from hormonal ailment linked to the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I'll do my best to widen your knowledge (and mine as well) about this hard, difficult awkward but fascinating topic: PCOS.