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: Picking a Healthier Picnic: Tips for Eating Healthy at those Summer Gatherings

Picking a Healthier Picnic: Tips for Eating Healthy at those Summer Gatherings

Project Manager

Summer is finally here, which typically means outdoor celebrations and get-togethers to bask in the glory of longer days and warmer weather. Unfortunately, this can often mean a stumbling block to your plans for healthy eating.

Summer picnics and potlucks are often full of foods like fried chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers, and potato salad-- foods that may be delicious but maybe aren't the healthiest choice. As a vegetarian, barbeques often only have unhealthy, creamy sides and desserts that fit my dietary restrictions. But it becomes difficult to be mindful of what you're eating, especially if you're busy catching up with old friends (or meeting new ones). Plus, nobody wants to be the one who looks like they aren't eating what other people brought!

Luckily, there are some things you can do to help keep your healthy lifestyle on course and still enjoy these fun occasions with your friends and family. There are plenty of good-for-you options that taste good too. It just takes a little bit more thought.

Choosing healthy foods at a summer potluck or picnic doesn't have to be the bummer you think it will be. Here are a few steps to take before you arrive to the celebration to curb your unhealthy eating:

  • Don't arrive hungry. Drink a few classes of water and snack on some fruit ahead of time. If you're not starving when you arrive, you'll be less likely to overeat.
  • Bring a healthy dish of your own. That way, you'll know that there will be at least one good-for-you thing that you can eat without worry. Here are some ideas.
  • If you're hosting the event, encourage your guests to bring healthy foods too.

But the fun part (besides the silly yard-games and being outside!) is actually eating! When it's time to fill your plate from the buffet table, take a mental survey of all the options before just blindly going through the line. This will help you plan your plate better.

Here are some more tips:

  • Fill at least half of your plate with the foods that look like they are the healthiest--like fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit foods that have lots of cheese or cream--these are the most likely to be loaded with calories and fat.
  • When choosing a drink, go for lighter options (light beers or 100 percent fruit juice) and alternate with water so you aren't drinking calories just to stay hydrated in the heat.
  • Don't totally restrict yourself. Take a small bite to satisfy your craving. If there's something you just can't turn down--like that peach pie--have a small slice or offer to share with someone.  
  • Remember that summer get-togethers are about just that--getting together! Moving around and talking to people will help you to stay active and make it less likely that you will eat too much. If there are fun yard games or other things to occupy your hands--try those! Croquet and badminton are my personal favorites!
  • After the event, if you feel like you made poor choices or that you ate too much, think about what you can do differently next time. You've got the whole summer to perfect your picnic!

With these tips in hand, go out and enjoy those summer celebrations without fear of spoiling your healthy-eating streak!

Lisa Blubaugh contributed to this post.

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