Healthy 4th of July!

June 30, 2016

As the July 4th holiday weekend is upon us, oftentimes we struggle in finding healthier options at picnics and parties. Perhaps you are staying at home for the 4th, but you have a graduation party to attend almost every weekend this summer. Figuring out strategies for your waistline and dietary needs is possible, it just takes a bit more thought. Here are some tips when having fun at your summer get-togethers.
  • Volunteer to make something. When you opt to make a dish, you at least have one item that you can feel comfortable nibbling on at your get-together. Some items to consider making or bringing (you can buy them prepared instead of making it yourself): salads, gazpacho, fruit tray, veggie and dip, guacamole, fresh salsa, bean salads, grilled meats, olives & hummus
 
  • Fill up on water-based fiber-rich foods to help curb cravings. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber and water, making us feel more full and reduce the urge to splurge. Summer time is an excellent time of year to enjoy produce with high water content. Examples are: cucumber, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries, peaches
 
  • Get up & move around – dance, play games, talk to people, keep the focus OFF food. Try and remember the other more important reasons you are there -- to enjoy the company of others. Step away and keep a distance from the food table/offerings. Once you are "out of sight, out of mind", the cravings start to diminish.
 
  • Hydrate – If drinking alcohol, opt for light beers & wine and drink water in between drinks. Fun cocktails like pina coladas, magaritas, and mojitos can had quite a bit of calories to your diet. Just one mojito is equivalent to running 3-4 miles!
 
  • Avoid creamy sides – potato salad, macaroni salad, creamy dressings and such are high in calories and saturated fat. Consider bringing your OWN potato or macaroni salad dish using mustard or low fat mayo, and adding additional vegetables. Consider a baked potato topped with salsa or just have a small helping.
 
  • Have a little. Remember that if you tell yourself you cannot have something, you will crave it more. By allowing yourself a serving or two of your favorite things, it will help you from eating the whole picnic. Make sure to enjoy yourself.
 
  • Go grilled – grilled chicken breast, veggies, lean beef are examples of grilled foods that will be good for your waistline. By selecting lean proteins and fiber rich veggies, your cravings will decrease and your optimal nutrient intake will increase.
 
  • Feel free to be nerdy – bring your own food... you would not be the first! For example, if you are a vegetarian, bring your own veggie burger or black bean burgers for the grill. Bring water or a calorie-free beverage that might not be offered for you.
 
  • Eat before you arrive. If you know there will be high calorie, high fat foods, have yourself a lean protein, healthy fat, high-fiber snack or meal before arriving. Something such as a whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, peppers, tomatoes, feta, and low-fat turkey or black beans is a great choice or a salad full of fresh veggies and a lite dressing.
 
  • Recall hunger versus appetite. This is one of the most important aspects in regards to dietary goals. Recognizing when you are physically hungry and when you crave food because of your feelings, senses, or cravings is key. Think about what is your current state -- are you hungry because you need to eat and your body needs the nourishment OR are you hungry suddenly because you smell barbeque? Take control of your appetite and you will be more successful that you might think.
  Happy 4th of July! Jenna Stranzl, RD -- Director of Nutrition and Wellness, Cuisine 365


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