Outside temperatures are up and schools are winding down. It's time for backyard BBQ's and gathering with friends and family around the picnic table! This summer tradition is so much fun, but can create a bit of a challenge when it comes to our healthy eating goals. I'm certainly not advocating depriving yourself, but it can be easy to get carried away with brats, hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, chips, dip, pies, and all those fun ice cream treats. Let's take a look at some ideas to keep your food choices healthy.
Before you go to the BBQ:
- Have a snack and a glass of water. A small fat-free yogurt, a small dab of peanut butter on celery, or something to get your blood sugar level up so you can maintain control. Going hungry increases the probability that you'll eat too much!
- Wear clothing that looks good and makes you feel good about yourself--not too tight, not too loose. Baggy clothing gives you too much room for chips and dip, while clothes that are too tight make you feel terrible about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, you'll tend to feed yourself better.
- Have a plan and practice it. Plan how you are going to deal with your food choices, and visualize yourself acting just that way. Imagine how you'll feel when you make these food choices. Imagine what it feels like to scoop up the watermelon. See that smile on your face. Practice this over and over again. It's one way athletes practice for their success!
- Bring a healthy fruit or veggie dish to pass. Many times, traditional BBQ food leaves out the simple, unadulterated fresh fruits and veggies. Make a beautiful, colorful dish and bring it with you as your gift of health for everyone.
- Grab a light or non-caloric beverage right away. This gives you a change to visit with people as you sip, and keeps one hand out of the snack bowls. If you get "nibble-y" grab another non-caloric beverage like a bottle of water in the other hand. It's really hard to start dipping into the chips with both hands full. If you decide you want to have some chips, you have to mindfully set a beverage down. I've used this trick for years, and it can be a lifesaver.
- Scope before you scoop (thanks, Erin, for this phrase!) Walk up and down the food table to check out your possibilities. Decide what you really want to eat. Note what doesn't appeal to you, and where any healthier choices are--like the fruits and veggies you brought!
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. This is a trick I want you to learn to use for the rest of your life. It provides a way to maximize the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, and to provide portion control for the more challenging foods.
- Choose to have the one or two foods that you want the most, but be sure to use portion control if they aren't quite as healthy.
- Sit down. Chew. Taste. Notice textures, flavors. If there is something you don't like, don't finish it. Enjoy every bite of what you love.
- Stop eating when you are full.
- Choose what you want to have, and if you want to have it. Feel no peer pressure. This is all about you.
- The first bite tastes the same as the last. Try a smaller piece of the pie.
- Fruit for dessert is always an option.
- One S'more is fine, but four may not be in your body's best interest. Shirley has a great quote: "A sliver leads to a slice, a slice leads to a slab, a slab leads to a slob." Know yourself with that particular food, and proceed accordingly!
- Talk to people.
- Play games. Bring a deck of cards, play ball, volleyball...