It is officially sailing season, and Tom and I had our first overnight cruise this weekend. There was a chill in the air, and we had our anchorage all to ourselves. Provisioning for a cruise is always fun and the menu is always delicious. Galley cooking has its challenges, but if I am well prepared, meals are both a culinary and nutrition success. Memorial Day weekend is also the official kickoff for backyard bbqs, potluck picnics, and celebratory cookouts. It’s a fun and festive season. Who doesn’t love to see the recipes from Pinterest debut on the new patio table? But for those of us working on a new nutrition plan and wellness routine, these events can take us from fire pit to pit fall in 60 seconds or less. A simple occasion can now be fraught with emotions ranging from anxiety to despair as we try to make good choices while being polite or enjoy a small indulgence without being buried by guilt. The good news is many of this can be navigated safely with a few simple strategies and by being prepared.
Preparing for a bbq, picnic, or cookout can be narrowed down to a few simple dos and don’ts.
If you are going to a potluck, bring a healthy dish you can eat. If it is a new kind of food for your crowd, have a few pointers about why this is something you’ve added to your repertoire and share these with nutrition-curious guests. Chances are you’re not the only one skipping the slaw and others will be glad for the alternative.
Don’t show up famished. It is much harder to make healthy choices at the buffet when you are over-hungry. Sometimes we institute our own fasting / reward rule – skipping lunch to overeat at dinner- this is not a recipe for success. Treat the meal at the party like any other meal on any other day. Stick to your portions and food group balance.
The devil is in the details. Your average meal and calorie intake hovers around a certain amount. The peripheral foods can add up to just as many calories- the handful of chips, grandma’s ambrosia salad, the ranch dip (even though you’re eating veggies with it), and all those cute little dishes of bite-sized yumminess perching on the side tables. Be mindful of those small bites as you work your way to the game of corn hole.
At the same time, don’t completely deprive yourself of a little splurge. No one should be the martyr in the corner with a rice cracker plate. This only builds resentment and a feeling of missing out. That’s not healthy either. You get to be empowered here. Choose something, if you feel like it, that you can’t get just anywhere, like your friend’s cheese dip she only makes once a year, and maybe skip the deli potato salad that you can have anytime.
And finally remember why you’re here. These parties are to gather with friends and family. While food is a big part of the event, it is not the only focus of the event. Enjoy yourself, enjoy your summer, and celebrate.
Simple dos and don’ts of the backyard BBQ for nutrition success:
DO- Bring something healthy that you love.
DON’T – Overeat because you are over hungry
DO – Watch the peripheral grazing
DON’T – Deprive yourself
DO – Enjoy your friends and family
How will you prepare for your next event?