Summertime is a season full of warm weather, vacations and outdoor gatherings, like cookouts, barbecues and pool parties.
Amidst the exciting and busy season, it’s easier to feel overwhelmed and harder to stick to your health routines.
It doesn’t have to be either-or, though. You can have fun and make good memories and still stay on track with your health goals. Here are a few tips to try at your next summer event.
The day of the get-together, get in a workout or do an activity that gets you up and moving. This can help you go into the party feeling good. Having burned a few calories beforehand is a bonus.
Skipping meals so you can indulge at the party can often lead to overindulging. Stick with your normal eating routine, knowing you still may splurge a little at the event.
Also, be sure to have a healthy snack before going to the party so you don’t show up hungry, which can lead to eating too much.
Always offer to bring something to the event. This is an opportunity for you to bring a healthy food item, like a salad dish or fruit or vegetable tray. This will ensure that there is at least one healthy go-to you can lean on.
Drink up—water that is—ahead of your gathering. Heading into a cookout or potluck well hydrated can help you feel good and may help you eat less.
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While food is often the main activity to do at a party or cookout, it doesn’t have to be. Get your friends involved in an outdoor game or just focus on catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Just be sure not to socialize by the food as this can lead to mindless eating.
Remind yourself why you are staying mindful. Keep your health goals at top of mind so you can make the best choices to help you reach the finish line.
When you are ready to eat, do a once-over of the food choices before you decide which items to put on your plate. Otherwise, filling your plate as you go down the buffet line can lead to an overloaded plate, making it easier to eat more than you want or need. Remember to keep the balanced plate top of mind. Fill your dish with 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% whole grain carbs and 25% protein.
Deprivation will only increase the likelihood of binging later. Instead:
Choose your favorite foods, foods you haven’t had in a while or foods you only get to eat a few times a year (like your out-of-state cousin’s cheesy potatoes).
If there are multiple desserts you want to try, split them with someone. Or cut a very small piece (a two-bite serving) of each so you can enjoy them without going overboard.
Instead of standing and eating from the food containers directly while you socialize, dish out your favorite foods onto a plate. Then sit down somewhere comfortable with other guests to eat. This can help you truly enjoy the food and reduce the likelihood of mindless eating.
Reflect on if alcohol helps you enjoy a gathering or gets in the way of making healthy choices for yourself. While alcohol doesn’t have any nutritional value, you can still have a drink or two for enjoyment’s sake. If you choose to enjoy alcohol, be selective and choose a drink you really enjoy.
Turn your drink into a spritzer by adding sparkling water to it. Sparkling water will increase your drink volume without consuming more alcohol.
Mocktails, or fancy drinks without the alcohol, are also an option.
Drink plenty of water or other calorie- and caffeine-free beverages throughout the party. If you are enjoying an alcoholic drink, be sure to alternate with glasses of water. Drinking water can help you feel full and slow down the amount of alcohol you drink.
If you feel the urge to have more to eat, think, “Am I really hungry?” You may find you truly are still hungry, or you might be thirsty instead. Either way, give your body what it needs.
Additionally, you may realize you want a little bit more of your favorite dish. That can be okay too. Serve yourself a small amount and try to really savor your last few bites before disposing of your plate.
It’s simple—return to your normal health routines after you enjoy the get-together. No matter how you feel like it went, getting back to your routine will be the best next step.
It can also be helpful to take five minutes to reflect on the following questions so you can keep learning and improving for future parties.
What went well?
What didn’t go as well?
What will I do differently at the next party?
HY dietitians are here to help. Our network of 150-plus expert registered dietitians can customize a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and schedule. Choose your dietitian, make an appointment and start improving your health today.