Hi friends! Today I wanted to share a few quick tips to help you keep up healthy habits during the 4th of July holiday. Cookouts are infamous for copious amounts of red meat, alcohol, and high calorie side items; luckily though, cookouts also provide great opportunity for enjoying fresh veggies and fruit, especially on a hot day!
- Do NOT show up to the get together famished. Though “saving up your calories for the big meal” sounds like a great idea, it can do more harm than good by setting you up to eat overly large portions.If your cookout or gathering is at lunch, make sure to have breakfast beforehand….if it’s in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch- you get the idea 🙂 Having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before eating can help avoid eating “with your eyes” and let you take your time to enjoy the foods that you really want to eat.
- Eat slowly…take at least 15-20 minutes to consume your meal. It takes about 15-20 minutes for our brain and stomach to communicate that we’ve eaten something and give that full feeling. Often times, we end up eating so quickly, that within the first 5 minutes of eating, we’ve already eaten the volume of food it takes for our stomach to feel full BUT since the brain and stomach haven’t had time to communicate yet, we keep on eating and eating until about 20 minutes later we feel that “overfull” feeling (I call it gross full or that level of fullness that makes us want to unbutton our jeans or take off our Spanx). Putting the fork down in between every bite of food or taking a sip of a low calorie beverage between bites can help you pace your eating.
- Build your plate using the plate planner method: 1/2 of your plate as veggies, 1/4 of your plate with starch, and 1/4 of your plate with protein (try also using a smaller plate if available). Often times we make about 3/4 of our plate something starchy like mac n cheese and potato salad with a hunk of meat on the side and no veggies in sight. Making a plate that has non-starchy vegetables as the star can help you feel full (from the water and fiber content of the veggies) without excessive calorie intake. This brings me to my next point…
- Eat the ‘healthiest foods’ first. Having those veggies full of water and fiber can help slow digestion and provide that feeling of fullness. Additionally, having something that contains protein and some fat (maybe in the form of olive oil in a salad dressing) can help you feel full sooner.
- Make sure to drink ample amounts of water throughout the day. If your cookout is outside, chances are you may get dehydrated more quickly outside due to the heat. If your “non-water” beverages contain alcohol or caffeine, these can also exacerbate the need for water due to their natural diuretic effects. If you need to be more convinced on the need to hydrate in the heat or strategies for naturally flavoring your water, check this out. Also, if you’re wanting to be mindful of calories from alcohol, be sure to look at my previous article comparing calories from different types of alcoholic beverages.
- Be mindful of foods that do not provide fullness. Potato chips, crackers, and other types of refined carbohydrates can pack on unnecessary calories without providing a sensation of fullness. This can lead to mindless eating of these munchies. Instead, choose items that have a high water and fiber content, like a salad or some fresh fruit. If you want something salty, having an item with protein such as peanut butter, nuts, or hummus can be a nice option.
- Try to be active during the day. Sure after eating a big plate of food, we totally want to crash on the couch. Instead, think about going for a family/friends walk in the afternoon or playing a game of flag football. These activities can keep you from being sedentary during the day and also allow you to socialize with your friends and family you’ve been wanting to spend time with 🙂
I hope you find these quick tips helpful 🙂 Please feel free to share your own strategies when it comes to holiday eating. And for those of you doing some traveling for this summer holiday, please check out a post from my fabulous RD friend, Cindy at Newlywed Nutrition— she has some great tips for eating healthy on the road including the best choices at gas stations as well as how to pack snacks for your car.
Happy 4th of July, friends!