Have Your Summer Fun AND Healthy Eating, Too!

People like you! Hopefully, they also like your family! The reward for being so awesome; you get invited to a slew of gatherings all summer long.

Everything from graduation parties, BBQs, pool parties, picnics, “It’s a day with a vowel” gatherings…You get the picture. Summer in upstate is an exceptional time. Deep down, we know we need to make the most of the good weather – heck, even the overcast and rainy days are better than winter.

Because as upstaters, we know one thing for certain: winter is coming, and we need to enjoy ourselves outside while we can.

No matter your reason for celebration or socializing, dining in an uncontrolled setting can be stressful and difficult if you have made a commitment to improving your eating habits and your health. So, before you get your shorts and tank top from the closet and head out to your destination, it is best for you to PLAN AHEAD!

Here are some helpful hints to follow when you’re trying to find some balance between enjoying yourself with friends and family and eating healthy:

– Fill Up. Depending on the time of the event, eat a healthy meal before heading out. This is not an invitation to eat two, full-size meals, however. The goal is to eat enough so you aren’t ravenously hungry when faced with a wide array of food choices.

– Control. Bring something you can/will eat that everyone can enjoy. If you know the host/hostess, this is an easy fix. If not, feign ignorance and don’t worry about etiquette! Make your healthy contribution handoff when you arrive and BAM! You may have solidified an invite to ANOTHER party.

– Talk. Speaking of etiquette, it’s generally not acceptable to talk and eat at the same time. So, the more you talk, the less you eat. This is pretty much my “go to” approach to controlling calorie intake. Strike up a conversation, make new friends.

– Proximity. If you aren’t close to the food table, you won’t eat as much. Also, think strategically when selecting a seat. Grab a chaise lounge next to vegetable platter and avoid the folding chair next to the chips and taco bean dip! Unless, of course, you’re at a fancier event with passed platters. In that case, keep moving! Bonus: You’ll burn calories as you mingle.

– Prioritize. If an entrée or appetizer looks absolutely incredible, be mindful of your portion and enjoy. The flip side is to then forgo dessert. Or, if you absolutely cannot resist the homemade cake with ice cream, have it. Just be smart about what comes beforehand. It has to be give and take when trying to juggle high calorie options.

– Accountability. This goes a long way. Can you ask a friend or partner to help you stay on track? As long as it won’t cause an argument and you are open to a gentle reminder, this is a great way to have an extra set of eyes on you.

A few additional tips…

– Know approximate portion size: Half a cup is about the size of your fist, 3 oz is the size of your palm, a Red Solo Cup is 16 oz.

– Fill up on veggies. Go easy on the dip.

– Choose the garden salad with a drizzle of lowfat dressing. This should fill up at least half your plate.

– Lemonade and iced tea that come in bottles or are made from mixes can be LOADED with sugar. Plain or flavored seltzer is a better choice.

– Fruit is another great alternative. Hal a cup (fist size) is about 60 calories. No dipping needed!

– Make a “no seconds” rule OR, choose a small plate and go back for ONE (small) extra helping.

– Prioritize high protein, grilled items and minimize starchy carbohydrates. Grilled burger instead of potato or mac salad, grilled chicken (no skin) instead of coleslaw, etc.

– Alcoholic beverage calories can add up quickly. We’ll discuss THAT in my next segment!

In my opinion, upstate summers are far too short. During these three, glorious, peak months, I do my best to pack in as much outdoor eating and gallivanting as I can.

However, I know that planning ahead and following some, if not all, of the above suggestions help keep me on track. The annual Rubber Ducky Pool Party is coming up…Honestly, if that’s not the nuttiest reason to get together for food and drink, I don’t know what is!

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