by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Fireworks, sunshine & finger food galore! Time flies & somehow the 4th of July weekend is only a few days away. I personally love this holiday, as it’s a wonderful time in history to celebrate & a great reason to throw a backyard bash! This means firing up the grill or bringing over a dish to mingle with friends over a large buffet of food & drinks.
These types of weekends use to bring me major anxiety! Anytime I was working hard to stick to a healthy eating goal I would stress about what to eat & how I could avoid going overboard. As much self control as I thought I had acquired, there is always the table with 10 different desserts. How do you pick just one? Plus after a fruity cocktail or two my “oh well” attitude would slide in & my choices usually went downhill from there.
Now that’s not to say there is anything wrong with indulging a bit on a holiday weekend. To me it’s all about who are you & what are your goals! How does that type of gathering effect your psychologically?
– If you enjoy 2 slices of cake are you guilt ridden the next day or do you shrug it off & get back to your green smoothie for breakfast?
– Are you at a healthy weight, active & just trying to maintain? Then maybe it’s not something to even worry about. As you shouldn’t go around feeling stressed about food choices if you already have healthy habits 85% of the time.
– However if you are working towards a goal to lose weight for health reasons or really struggle with binge eating to the point of discomfort, then it’s far more important to have some strategies going in.
Again it’s about what unique goals you have, not one size fits all. For me personally I don’t mind an extra treat or two as long as I really enjoy them. I strive to eat mindfully & I not overdue it to the point of feeling sick. As we have all had that long lasting belly ache from ignoring our hunger cues & stuffing down an extra scoop of ice cream or two…oops!
1. Have a Plan: I don’t mean you need to plan ahead every bite you are going to eat. Just having some goals going into the event will give you some parameters to work within. For myself, I may have the goal of sticking with 2 drinks while having a glass of water in between. I often share that goal with my husband to help hold me accountable. This at least helps to keep me mindful of my choices, slow down & enjoy what I am actually consuming. Other great goals may be to skip the one dish you know triggers less than healthy choices, only eat one carby side dish or choose one dessert. Even if your goal is to simply be mindful of when you are full, that may be a victory you will feel proud of!
2. Bring a Dish: I don’t enjoy being stuck at a BBQ with all fried foods, mac & cheese or mayo filled potato salads. While some of those may be enjoyed, I do prefer having a fresh salad, veggies or fruit to snack on along the day. My solution? Bring what you enjoy eating! No one is going to complain about an extra dish on the table & often times the lighter fair becomes the hit of the party on a hot day. Choose a recipe you are excited to eat & not just another bland veggie tray. This will make you more likely to fill up on the good stuff & steer clear of foods that don’t fit your goals.
3. Indulge in the Homemade: This is always a factor in my decision making process when I hit an event. There is a major flavor difference between the store bought 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies & that made from scratch delicious dessert. Why waste it on the foods you can grab from the store any day of the week? I am much more likely to sample a dish I know is phenomenal which I don’t get the opportunity to eat often, versus the slightly stale cookie cake that’s always available. In short…be picky!!!
4. Start the Day with a Workout: The reason I recommend starting the day with a workout is not about trying to burn off the extra calories you are planning to consume. As I’m not a big fan of working out to negate overdoing the eating. Guess what..that doesn’t work! However the reason I love working out on a day I have a social gathering is I typically make better decisions. After a good workout in the morning I am more likely to focus on refueling my body for recovery & getting myself ready for the next. Therefore I naturally lean towards a few less drinks & a bit more healthy protein throughout the day. Plus I typically feel a bit better in the outfit I plan to wear after a good sweat session;)
5. Relax: We often get so wrapped up being afraid we might fail, that we set ourselves up for disaster. All that pressure is giving WAY too much control to the food around us. Look at your motivation, goals, have a plan & enjoy the experience. These events are about the people, fun & memories made along the way. Let the food stress take a backseat where it belongs!
The good news? Fourth of July grilling can be both incredibly tasty & super nutritious! Why settle for one with you can have both. Check out a few of my favorite simple meal ideas plus recipes from around the web:
Lettuce Wrap Burger: Enjoy all the goodness of a burger, just lighten it up by skipping the bun. Either grab a fork & go at it or stuff it in a crunchy lettuce wrap. Choose toppings like tomato, pickles, caramelized onions, mustard & a touch of ketchup to add tons of flavors without too much extra unhealthy fat.
Grilled Romaine Salad: Cut a whole romaine lettuce heart in half & toss on the grill flat side down. Get a quick char & top with fresh parmesan cheese plus a light drizzle of healthy caesar, balsamic or favorite salad dressing for a fun twist on a summer salad.
Chunky Greek Salad: I love this cool salad during the hot summer month. It has tons of flavor & textures that always makes it a huge party hit. I chop up chunky cucumber, grape tomatoes, sliced red onion, chunky feta, kalamata olives & an olives oil dressing with red wine vinegar. Salt & pepper to taste & you are ready to serve.
Fresh Cut Fruit + Yogurt Dip: Everyone wants a sweet treat so if you are trying to skip the heavy desserts, this is for you. Choose whatever fruit is in season (berries are my favorite) & serve with a side of vanilla greek yogurt. I love making my own dip by using plain greek yogurt & adding fun mix ins such as peanut flour, vanilla/almond extract & cocoa powder.
Lightened Up Mojito: I have a weakness for a fruity summer cocktail, especially the delicious mint mojito. The way I enjoy a lighter version is muddling mint, raspberries & stevia. Then adding club soda & vodka for a flavorful mixed drink that is a MUCH better choice than the high calorie super sugary margarita. PS mixed drinks can be anywhere from 300-800 calories PER DRINK. Don’t waste all your hard work on one beverage.
From the Web:
Healthy Salads, Sides & Such:
Desserts & Beverages:
Your turn! What’s your favorite summer gathering dish?
Goals, Habits, healthy eating, Holiday, Mindful Eating, mindset, recipes