The sun is shining, beaches are open, and school is (almost) out, which means summer is in full swing! Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer is peak party season. Whether it’s a wedding, a day at the beach, or a backyard BBQ, these gatherings can mess with your waistline. To set yourself up for success, here are my top tips to navigate summer parties:
Don’t be afraid to ask your server about what is in your food, and watch portions because they are typically extra-large. Without remaking the dish, it’s okay to request certain modifications. (Spoiler alert: if you ask for dressing on the side and you pour on the whole bowl, that doesn’t count as cutting back!)
Make wise choices. If you’re at a sit-down dinner, if possible, opt for fish and veggies, a combo that’s packed with protein and healthy fats.
Attack the buffet with a plan. Instead of treating a buffet like an all-you-can-eat opportunity, treat it as if you’re ordering in a restaurant — where even if you enjoyed your meal, you wouldn’t ask the server to bring you another full course of it! Survey all of your options before filling up your plate, then take what you want the first time and don’t go back for seconds. When you select your food, look for veggies and lean protein for lower calorie options. Also, use a smaller salad plate so there’s less room to pile on your pickings.
Summer splurges are essential, but shouldn’t be excessive! Skip the traditional dinner roll or mass-produced frozen desserts for something that is truly worth spending your calories on.
Liquid calories count! Just because you don’t chew them doesn’t mean drinks don’t count. Remember this, so that bottoms up doesn’t mean bottoms out! Healthfully hydrate this summer by alternating your alcoholic beverage with water or seltzer. Keep in mind that 1.5 ounces of vodka, a light beer, or 5 ounces of wine all contain just over 100 calories. To lighten your drink, make it a spritzer by adding seltzer water (not tonic) to wine or hard alcohol. Beware of mixers and fruity, frozen drinks, which can double the amount of calories in your cocktail.
Be a healthy host. Recreate your favorites using healthier alternatives that have just as much flavor as the original counterpart but come with less of a calorie count. Swap Greek yogurt for sour cream, avocado for mayo, spices for fatty sauces, and low-fat milk for whole. And don’t underestimate the significance of a beautiful crudite platter and dip or tray of fresh fruit kebobs! Here’s my crowd-pleasing recipe for Guac-Humm Mole, which nestles hummus with creamy avocado to supply protein-rich staying power to this classic dip.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the food you’ll be facing this summer, remember, you choose food, it doesn’t choose you! During party season, and year-round, set realistic goals. Consistent healthy eating and exercise are lifestyle goals we should strive for to avoid crash dieting before a big event.
Are you finding it difficult to get going on healthy eating? Try wearing your bathing suit under your clothing all week — that should be a reminder!
If you missed my Twitter chat with @EverydayHealth this week — go to Storify to view the lively conversation! Follow me on Twitter @eatsmartbd to hear more diet and nutrition tips all year through.
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