It’s finally summer! Time for more barbeques, rooftop drinks, and outdoor social events. While all these summer gatherings are supposed to be fun and carefree, sometimes they can become a source of stress when making healthy, balanced choices in choosing food and drinks. It can definitely be a tough balancing act to manage. I always talk with clients about the importance of finding a happy medium – on the one hand, you don’t want to overeat and end up not feeling great, but on the other hand, you also don’t to be sitting alone munching on carrot sticks the whole night. The key is enjoyment without feeling like you have to sacrifice.
Below are my favorite healthy eating tips to help you achieve this balance throughout the summer.
1. Consider your cravings first
No matter what kind of event you’re attending, there’s likely some sort of menu or buffet that you can glance at before deciding what to eat and drink. Before assessing your options, it’s helpful to decide what you’re really in the mood for. Maybe you’ve been craving your aunt’s world (or at least family) famous mac and cheese, or maybe you’re eyeing the selection of homemade pies. Seeing appealing entrees on a menu, appetizing dishes in a buffet line, or simply seeing someone else’s plate can often affect our food choices. Decide what you truly want before that choice becomes dictated by what’s in front of you. Then, once you scan the options, select what will really satisfy what you’re in the mood for. This helps to prevent you from grabbing too much at a buffet-style gathering, or ordering more than you’re necessarily hungry for.
2. Choose your indulgence
Now that you know what you’re in the mood for, decide on the one thing you want to splurge on. I tell my clients to allow one indulgence at special events so that you don’t feel deprived, but also don’t feel like you’re going overboard. Maybe it’s that mac and cheese mentioned above! Maybe it’s a fancy cocktail, or a side of French fries, or dessert. Whatever it is, choose it and enjoy it.
Then, keep the rest of the meal packed with fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. If you’re choosing the mac and cheese, pair it with a salad. If it’s the French fries, eat them with grilled chicken and some veggies on the side. If you’re craving a cocktail or dessert, keep your main meal on the healthier side to leave room for these treats. By allowing these indulgences and keeping the rest of the meal healthy and balanced, you allow yourself to truly enjoy your food without feeling guilty or unwell from overeating, and as a result, you’ll enjoy the event more and feel better afterwards!
3. Bring a healthy dish
Understandably, the next question related to healthy eating tips during the summer that I usually get is “what if there is nothing healthy available?” This might occur and is usually the case at potlucks or barbeques with friends. If you think you might be going to an event where there won’t be any healthy eating options, be the one to bring your own dish! Make a big summer salad, bring some fruit to grill for dessert, or try fun appetizers like the Greek Salad Skewers below. If you take it upon yourself to bring a dish, then you know no matter what, you’ll have something to choose from and everyone else at the party benefits, too. It’s a win-win.
4. Think ahead!
There are lots of other ways to think ahead and prioritize small healthy habits that can make a big difference and help to offset any indulgent treats you might enjoy at the party. For example, park far away from the venue so you can squeeze in a couple more steps before and after the event. Another healthy eating tip? Throw a couple SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener packets into your purse so you can sweeten a beverage like iced tea without the extra calories from sugar. If you prefer to sip on H20, pack a water bottle in your bag to avoid the higher calorie beverages being served. If there are different sized plates at the buffet, choose the smallest one to help control your portion size. These are all small changes that don’t take a lot of effort or thought.
5. If you do overeat, don’t dwell on it
Finally, if you do overeat, don’t dwell on it. Sometimes, despite all of our planning and best efforts, it just happens. If you do feel that you’ve overeaten at an event, try not to ruminate about it. Mulling over how much you’ve eaten can make you feel guilty and unhappy when you’re supposed to be having fun. Please don’t do this! If you do overeat, try to simply move on. Focus on the conversation with friends, fresh air if you’re outdoors, or the special time with loved ones. No meal, no matter how big or small, is worth ruining an event that’s supposed to be enjoyable.
Greek Salad Skewers Recipe
Ingredients (makes 10 skewers):
- 10 wooden skewers
- 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cucumber, cut into thin slices
- 20 pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 packet SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Pepper, to taste
- Assemble 1/2 tomato, 2-3 cucumber slices, and 1 olive onto a skewer, repeating twice.
- Once all skewers are assembled, toss crumbled feta cheese on top.
- To make dip, mix Greek yogurt, SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener, oregano, lemon juice, and pepper. Place in small dish on the side for dipping.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.