With the start of summer coming in hot with Memorial Day weekend kicking it off tomorrow (or today for some!), that means cookouts and dinner parties, and with cookouts and dinner parties come good food! It’s very easy to let this time of year derail our health and fitness goals, but it’s also very easy to enjoy the fun foods and keep chipping away at our goals.
If your family is anything like mine, every get-together is filled with a buffet table packed with the classic BBQ meats, casseroles, drinks, and desserts totally NOT healthified, a lot like the pic to the right! As much fun as it is to indulge in all of these things, it can add up very quickly, leaving all of your hard earned progress far behind. This is not to say you can’t enjoy these BBQ classics, but rather to say be smart about it! Instead of going HAM on these fun foods, consider this instead;
- Eat prior to going. I know… no one wants to show up to a BBQ full. I’m not saying to show up full, just don’t show up hangry, ready to smash some food. Eat a nutrient-dense meal full of protein and fiber such as a veggie scramble or smoothie with whey protein powder, spinach, and light fruit for sweetness & consistency. This type of me will help balance blood sugar and not leave you stuffed so you can enjoy the foods provided.
- Bring your own meat and side dish. This is a very easy way to control what you’re putting in your mouth. Take advantage of the “bring your own dish” rule and bring something that aligns with your goals. This way, you know exactly what ingredients were used and can fill your plate with these items knowing they won’t set you behind. Some good ideas would be chicken breast/legs/wings to grill and a cucumber salad as a side!
- Fill your plate with protein & vegetables first. Filling your plate with protein and vegetables first will not only set you up for a nicely balanced meal, but will also leave you less room on your plate for fun foods. 😉 My rule of thumb is to fill 3/4 of the plate before heading to the fun foods. It would look something like the pic on the left: 1/4 plate protein, 1/2 plate fruits & vegetables, 1/4 plate fun foods (the whole grains section of the pic) with about a spoonful of each. My favorites are my Gram’s beans and fruit salad or my mother-in-law’s banana cream pudding! They are a MUST at our family get togethers!
Putting these guidelines into practice at your family get together should set you up for success, because the key to this whole health and fitness thing is balance! It’s not necessarily certain foods that make us fail, but rather the amount and frequency of these foods. Enjoy all foods, in moderation!
The next common food-related-events of summer are dinner parties out with family or friends. Through my years of coaching, I’ve seen many people get really anxious when going out to eat because they can’t control exactly what’s going to come out on their plate. I’ve totally been there myself, too! The good news is that most any restaurant will do whatever you want if you just ask. Every time my husband and I go out to eat, I embarrass him with my odd order (maybe he’s used to it by now?!)… but being picky with my order its worth it to me to make sure I’m getting a meal that aligns with my goals. If you are looking to “healthify” your meal out, take these tips along with you next time you go.
- Take your time to scan the menu to see what fits what you’re looking for. If there is a dish that looks like something you’re wanting but it’s not exactly it, chances are good the chef will change it up for you (with an added cost) to match what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to mix and match. If they offer the food in another dish but not the one you want, they’ll almost always add it in for you, and if you want to omit a certain item, ask to have it made without!
- Ask for your food items cooked without butter or oil. Butter and oil add up QUICK in calories and most restaurants slop this shiz on. Yes, they add taste, but you don’t need nearly the amount they use and if you want it bad enough, you can ask for it on the side to control how much is going on your food. Personally, I ask for none because the taste isn’t that much of a difference enough for me to care.
- Ask for all toppings on the side. This goes for sauces, cheeses, butter, oil, condiments, etc. Like I mentioned before, restaurants really pile these things on more than we would at home. Ask for them on the side and add the appropriate amount yourself.
- Stop when you’re full. 9 times out of 10, the portion sizes we get at restaurants are 2x what we’d make ourselves at home. Really make sure to listen to your body and stop when you’re full. Ways to do this are to eat slower, actually chew your food, and stop to talk to whoever you’re with. If you listen, your body will tell you when it’s full!
Now with all of these tips, there are certain exceptions to be made in different situations. There are times and places to indulge, but it’s what we do consistently that gets us results. If we consistently make good, healthy food choices, we will continue to make that progress we’re striving for! It may be a little difficult to make these changes at first, but once you get comfortable and it becomes normal for you, it’s a rewarding feeling knowing you are working toward your goals even when eating out with family or friends! Try these out, and if you have any other tricks that you personally use, I’d love to hear!
** Plate picture credit: IIN