Surviving Summer Cookouts

We are approaching 4th of July weekend and lots of cookouts with family and friends. There are many benefits to cookouts: the meat or vegetables are grilled not fried and fresh fruits are in. There are also lots of temptations: pasta salads, high fat meats like brats, and desserts galore. As you set off to your 4th of July celebrations, keep some of these suggestions in mind:

  • Bring fruits and vegetables to get-togethers and fill your plate with them. Often fruits and vegetables are left out, so make sure they are included in your celebrations by bringing them yourself! You can make fruit salads fancy by including a rainbow of fresh fruits. You can also hollow out a watermelon for a fancy (and disposable) bowl. Fresh vegetable plates with dip are always popular with adults and children.

  • Hold the mayo! Mayonnaise-laden salads and dishes are very high calorie. If pasta salad, potato salad, or deviled eggs are your favorites then go with a very small portion. You can still have a taste of it, but a cup of potato salad has 350-400 calories in it! You can consume more calories and fat from potato salad than a hamburger.

  • Try to get lean meats or protein sources when you can. Good choices would be chicken breast, a lower fat turkey brat or all beef hotdog, lean ground beef for hamburgers, veggie burgers, or vegetarian baked beans. Also watch your portion. If you fill your plate with fresh fruit and veggies and just have one brat then your overall calorie and fat intake will be lower.

  • Savor one special dessert rather than trying everything. Mindless eating is an easy trap during parties. You may find yourself nibbling on store bought cookies when really you just want to try your best friend’s homemade brownies. With desserts, be choosey. Pick your favorite special dessert and enjoy it! Eat slowly and try to eat a small portion.

  • Calories from beverages add up. Avoid sugary beverages such as lemonade and sweet tea. If you are drinking alcohol, go with lite beer or wine. Drink plenty of water in between drinks with alcohol. Stay hydrated and safe!

Keep these tips in mind and you can still have a wonderful holiday weekend, but when you return to work you won’t be feeling bloated and guilty. I enjoy food and holidays, but learning to watch portions of high fat and high sugar foods is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Happy 4th of July!

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