Food

5 Tips to Stay Healthy at BBQs and Summer Parties

Beth Funari Sims

It’s officially BBQ Season!

That season where every weekend feels somewhat celebratory, and it should right?

My East Coast and Midwest girls feel me – it was looong winter.

So sunshine, cut offs, and drinking rose at 3pm on a Saturday are definitely acceptable.
But you also don’t want every summer weekend to be an endless smorgasbord that leaves you feeling crappy.
Nobody likes a hangover (whether it’s from alcohol or food).

Many of my clients say they find this time of year even tougher than the holidays in terms of sticking to their healthy-living goals.
There’s so many reasons to indulge, and let loose. The warm weather can be like Xanax for the soul after all the cold, slushy, grey weather.
And the truth is sometimes feeling super relaxed leads to overindulging.

I certainly don’t believe in restricting yourself – especially on vacation! Indulging is part of the fun of a break from “normal life.”

However, there are approximately 14 weekends in summer so if you treat every BBQ or get together like a free for all chances are you won’t feel great. BBQs can be tricky because we don’t often associate them with the healthiest fare. Sometimes we can take the all American burgers and hot dogs, chips and brownies thing a little too far.

Here are some strategies to help keep you feeling your best while enjoying summer fun:

  1. Bring something healthy that you enjoy eating. You don’t have control over the menu of most parties (unless you’re the host, obviously.) So be a good guestand benefit your health simultaneously. I like to bring a quinoa salad, pretty summer fruit salad with watermelon and lots of berries, or homemade guacamole and terra chips or veggies.
  2. Never, ever go to a party starving. What happens when you’re hangry? Everything looks good. (Ahem, even the slightly stale nachos that have been sitting out congealing for hours.) Before you head out to a BBQ eat a small snack so you’re able to be more thoughtful with your choices. Some good examples are a cup of greek yogurt, an apple with nut butter, a handful of almonds, or a few slices of turkey with avocado.
  3. Eat protein first. Instead of mindlessly grazing make an effort to have something satiating first. Protein is your best bet as it takes longer to digest than many carbs which helps keeps you full. So get in on the grill action and have some chicken kebabs, a turkey or lean beef burger, or fish. Next seek out veggies – I know this can be tough at a BBQ! (Another reason to bring a dish). And then enjoy your favorite sides in moderation.
  4. Skip mystery food.  Okay, I know your Aunt Barb prides herself on the creamy potato salad she makes every year but you’re an adult and can choose what goes in your mouth. I have this whole category of mystery foods at summer parties – they’re the side dishes that probably (maybe) taste okay but it’s tough to tell exactly what’s in them and they tend to be lukewarm and not all that satisfying. Another mysterious category can be drinks. That sugary rum punch? If that’s what you’re craving go for it, but know that too many sugary cocktails will inevitably lead to a major hangover. Have some crisp white wine, rose’ or a light beer instead.
  5. Wear something you feel good in. This clearly doesn’t have to do with food intake. Buuuut trust me when you feel good that translates into how you navigate social situations. That goes for healthy eating as well. This doesn’t mean you need to wear something form fitting or over the-top. Just do YOU, and wear what makes you comfortable and happy. You’ll enjoy the day more and feel confidant when someone inevitably decides theymust post a photo on Instagram.

What’s your favorite summer party food?  Tell me in the comments!

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