How do you face temptation at summer parties and holiday gatherings and still eat healthily? Here are some simple healthy eating tips to help you stay on track this summer!
Summer is almost here. And after a long period of mask-wearing and social distancing, many in the U.S. are now free to begin gathering safely with family and friends. And that means plenty of summer fun this year! Pool parties with neighbors and barbeques with family and friends are great ways to spend time with those you care about.
But they can derail your healthy eating efforts by tempting you with all sorts of foods that aren’t so great for your body. The good news is that with a little preplanning, you can make some choices that can allow you to have fun, and still stay on track! Here are some simple tips that can help you enjoy your summer gatherings!
You don’t need to avoid summer gatherings!
Yes, you can still go to your neighbor’s birthday party or the family cookout. But plan ahead! Most parties and gatherings are filled with foods that are high in sugar, highly processed ingredients, and chemical additives that can wreak havoc on your digestive system. But a little pre-planning can help you to stay on track with your eating this summer! Do you really enjoy the bloating and discomfort that happens when you eat foods that don’t really work for your body? How about the fogginess, poor mood, and lack of energy that happen the next day because of the sugar you ate? Planning ahead helps you to party smart, which will keep you looking and feeling great!
Healthy eating tips for summer celebrations
Bring a dish…or two!
The best way to make sure there are healthy options for you is to bring a dish or two. Choose something you’ll feel good about eating and are also happy to share. There are lots of great recipes and ideas online that everyone will love! Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad. And no one else needs to know that the food you brought is not only tasty but good for you too.
Reinvent a favorite recipe
Are there recipes that you love to bring to cookouts or parties? Make those old standbys, just make them healthier! Swap organic ingredients and natural substitutes for less than healthy ingredients.
- Burgers? Grass-fed is getting easy to find in most grocery stores!
- Ketchup? Look for a low sugar, corn syrup free version!
- Skip the store-bought salad dressings and make a homemade version. Store-bought dressings often contain a lot of hidden sugar.
- Chocolate pudding for the chocolate trifle? Use raw cacao powder and other good for you ingredients to make your own pudding. It’s not much more work and your body will get nutrients it needs with none of the ingredients that it doesn’t need.
- Include plenty of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables too! Pair them with a homemade dip or two.
- Skip that high-sugar fruity cocktail and opt for an alcoholic drink that is lower in sugar.
Check online for healthier versions of classic summer picnic and party favorites. A little time spent with Google will help you to find recipes for everything from gluten-free cookies to grain-free pizza crust. Do remember however that a cookie is still a cookie, even if it’s gluten-free and organic. These labels don’t give you free rein to eat as much as you want. You still need to practice moderation!
Bring these healthy recipes to your next summer party
During the summer months, it is always good to keep some fresh produce on hand. It is plentiful and typically costs less during the summer growing season. If you keep plenty of fresh greens and vegetables handy and get a last-minute invite to a cookout, you will have what you need to whip together a simple summer salad. This works well with different seasonal, summer fruits as well.
Don’t beat yourself up
We all have foods that we associate with good times. Don’t beat yourself up if you end up eating one of Aunt Cheryl’s famous brownies. It can be easy to be hard on yourself when you eat something that you know isn’t the best option for you. Or worse, use it as an excuse to just stop doing everything you’ve been doing to eat well. Instead of mentally beating yourself up, refocus and get back to eating the foods that work best for your body at the very next meal.
Family and friends
The food table is not the only thing that can sabotage you at parties. People can too. The biggest culprits are family and friends!
Although they care about you, well-meaning friends and family will sometimes push food on you. Some people will make you feel as if you are the “weird one” in the crowd because you are not indulging in all the goodies.
Tips to avoid sabotage by others
- Do not feel the need to explain and defend your food choices. Quickly change the subject or excuse yourself if someone is pressuring you to eat something you don’t want to eat. You can say that you need to use the bathroom or that you are going to get a refill of your drink to help you get away.
- Don’t avoid eating. There is no reason not to eat! Just fill your plate with good choices! You’ll be satisfied and you’ll avoid unnecessary questions about why you’re not eating.
- Bring support. If you have a family member or friend who knows and supports your healthy lifestyle, they can be a huge support during the party. If they are eating healthy as well, even better! You can help each other stay on track.
People don’t like change
Most importantly, remember that not everyone needs to “get” you. People do not like change. And if you are making healthy changes, it may make them uncomfortable. You are becoming healthier and happier. And that may make their bad habits and choices stand out to them. People are more comfortable when others are more like them. But that is no reason for you to give up your health journey!
You may need to set some healthy boundaries with some family members and friends. Especially if they continue to try to sabotage your healthy eating efforts.
While you are celebrating with family and friends this summer, remember why you made the decision to get healthy. There is no food, no matter how good it tastes, that is worth experiencing symptoms for. You made the decision to focus on your health because you weren’t feeling the way you want to. You deserve to feel good! You can enjoy time with the people you care about and focus on doing things that improve your health too!