is finally here and so is the fun we’ve been waiting for all winter long – the BBQs, clam bakes, picnics, outdoor parties and more! But, as we get ready to raise our glasses, dig into the chips and guacamole and enjoy sunsets with friends, many of our healthful eating habits can be challenged.
For a lot of people, including many of my clients, these gatherings filled with large crowds, small talk and calories galore, can stir up some anxiety. And when insecurity hits, we're not always mindful about what to eat. Next thing you know, we've gorged ourselves with lots of junk food and unnecessary calories by sundown, and then feel ill the following day.
Here are some ways to prepare yourself mentally and nutritionally for all of your fun summer outings so that you can still enjoy yourself while committing to a healthful lifestyle.
It's no surprise that people will over indulge in sugary, summer cocktails, especially since they think that alcohol will give them some extra social finesse. However, after a drink or two, you can become uninhibited and drink more. You might keep drinking because you think that you need to loosen up, but in reality the disinhibiting effects usually come after a few sips. So, keep in mind that you really don't need more than one or two drinks at your summer outing. Instead, alternate your drinks. Have one alcoholic drink and drink it slowly, then make your next drink unsweetened and nonalcoholic, like club soda.
When you drink too much, you tend to not make the best food choices. To handle this, always eat something before you get to your party so that you're not starving. Have a small, but satisfying snack like a handful of dried fruit and nuts, or yogurt and fresh fruit. This way you're satiated at the party and not lunging at the food table all day and night.
That chips and salsa bowl look tempting, and if we stand around it and keep picking at it as we chat away with friends, we'll never know how much we're eating. Instead, take a small plate and portion out a serving. Try sticking to a handful of chips and a full tablespoon of guacamole or hummus if that's what you're craving. Do the same thing when the hors d’oeuvres are passed around. Put all your pre-dinner snacks on a small plate so that you can see what you're eating and set a limit. Also, fill your plate with more healthful options like veggies because they’re bulky and will fill you up faster. Then, you'll have less stomach room for the chips and salsa.
Get Buffet Smart
It's hard to resist a buffet with the endless menu of delicious dishes like BBQ chicken, ribs, and pasta and potato salad. I'm sure you've seen people who overdo it with food falling off their plates as they head back to their tables. Instead, take one dish and fill it as if you were plating a meal at home or served a dish at a restaurant. What would your portion size look like then? Always keep this in mind when heading to the buffet table and it will keep you in check.
When we’re uncomfortable, we're not always thinking sensibly regarding food choices. If you walk into a party and you see someone who you don't know or like very much – your brain automatically runs into defense mode and you get nervous. It's hard to feel that way and expect to act rationally in terms of eating and drinking. Try to mentally prepare yourself for your gatherings to avoid these emotional pitfalls. For example, go into these situations with some awareness about what you might be expected to talk about or who you want to talk to beforehand. Many people have difficulty with small talk, but if you prepare yourself, you'll avoid that empty feeling and gain more confidence, which can actually affect your food choices in a positive way.
Make a Morning Fitness Plan
If you know that you’ll be heading to the gym in the morning on you own, or better yet, with a friend, you'll be more aware of your eating habits the night before. So when a summer party is on your schedule, why not schedule a workout for the morning after. Then, you may think twice before having that extra piece of dessert or glass of wine because you’ll know that you have to wake up early and make it to your workout!
Summertime offers a golden opportunity to get into shape, eat healthy foods and ramp up your exercise routine. So, take advantage of this season filled with sunshine, fun, outdoor parties and good food, but also maintain your commitment to yourself and your health.