Ahhhh, Summer…time for New Englanders to take every opportunity to bask in the sun and enjoy doing all of their favorite activities outside, including eating and drinking. As we all know, this means countless backyard barbeques, tables covered with delectable dishes, and coolers filled with our favorite summer refreshers. What’s not to love?!
Unfortunately, far too often do these summer bashes quickly spiral into a guilt-fest, as we scorn ourselves after third-helpings of the potato salad or realizing our hand hasn’t left the chip bowl for more than 10 seconds in the past hour. Then without realizing it, we’ve spent the entire party tallying how many crackers that girl with the six-pack took rather than listening to our friend recount their recent vacation. Or before we know it, we’ve single-handedly polished off the entire plate of cheese and crackers, and suddenly a nap on the pool floatie sounds much more appealing than the game of corn hole we’ve just committed to. At the end of the day, we leave feeling sluggish, bloated and concerned about attending yet another cookout the following weekend.
Now, I am not here to tell you that the only way to enjoy your next cookout is to say “no, thank you” to the beer and only have the grilled chicken and a side salad. I am here to show you that you can have your burger and eat it, too (and feel good in the process)! Whether you’re hosting or attending the festivities, here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you enjoy the remainder of your summer parties:
If you’re hosting or responsible for bringing food/drinks…
- Instead of using mayonnaise to make the potato salad, try plain low-fat Greek yogurt for less fat and more protein
- Use 100% whole wheat buns for your burgers and hot dogs for added fiber and fullness
- To cut down on saturated fat, use at least 95% lean turkey meat for burgers in place of beef
- To cut calories (and increase hydration!) place flavored seltzer water and fresh berries next to the wine and leave a sign with instructions for a wine spritzer ( ½ wine, ½ seltzer, a few berries)
If you’re attending…
- Have a light meal or snack before you go (e.g. veggies and hummus), so you’re not as inclined to snack on less healthy options at the party
- When it’s time to sit down for your meal, fill half of your plate with veggies and try to keep the starches to 1/4 of your plate
- If you suspect no one else will bring a veggie dish, offer to bring one yourself!
- Distract yourself from the snacks by starting a lawn game or jumping in the pool
And one final (IMPORTANT) tip…
Let yourself enjoy it!! Although it may feel like your summer has been two months of backyard binging, the likely reality is that this is not happening as often as it seems. Furthermore, we are all entitled to enjoy that perfect burger and beer combination every once in awhile! Hopefully, keeping in mind these tips will help you make healthier choices overall, while also allowing you to feel better about that hotdog you’ve been craving all summer.
Post written by Stephanie Sudjian, Registered Dietitian at the Cambridge Athletic Club