Next week is the 4th of July and that brings with it mountains of potato salad piling up in kitchens and the sound of burgers sizzling on the grill across the US. It is a time to celebrate with family and friends, but it can also be a challenge for anyone who is trying to focus on their health. If you are worried about staying on track at the family cookout next week, here are a few tips for getting through it without setting yourself back.
Snack Before You Get There
I love parties and the food that goes with them. Just ask my husband–he had to deal with icing about 100 flamingo shaped cookies and me drinking mimosas out of a pineapple in preparation for my birthday a few weeks ago (Love you, babe).
Work hard play hard, am I right?
That being said, if you are actively trying to lose weight, you need to be smart about what and how much you consume. It’s fine to have a cookie, just not 5. It is also fine to have a beer, but it is considerably less fine to shotgun a six pack, climb up on a picnic table, and belt out the national anthem (I mean, I know it’s the 4th of July, but still). It is way too easy to show up to a party hungry and let all judgement fly out the window when you see what food is there. Eat a healthy snack before you go. You will be in a better position to turn down that 2nd serving of mac and cheese and the uncomfortable fullness that goes along with it.
Use A Smaller Plate
Typically, there are 2 plate options at parties: one for the meal and a smaller one for dessert. Always use the smaller plate. Several studies have shown that eating off of a small plate tricks the brain into thinking it is eating more and satiety signals are sent more quickly. That boils down to feeling fuller while eating less and who doesn’t want that?
Go Slow. Now Go Slower.
Talk to any of my nutrition coaching clients and you will find that this is something I harp on. A lot. In fact, I would argue that eating slowly is one of the single most important things a person can do to take control of their weight. It takes your brain at least 20 minutes to give you the signal that you are full. Think about that. How long does it usually take you to scarf down a plate of food and head back for seconds? Is it less than 20 minutes? Do you usually end up feeling uncomfortably stuffed after a party? The slower you eat, the better food is digested and the sooner you realize that another slice of cake isn’t going to be as satisfying as you thought.
Every day is not going to be filled with perfect eating. When with family and friends, food is an enjoyable, social part of the equation and you should never find yourself missing out on a celebration because you are too worried about eating the wrong thing or ruining your progress. Practice smart habits, but ultimately it is one day and a minor slip up or two wont derail your progress. Have fun with loved ones this Independence Day, enjoy your food, and get back to work the next day. I’ll be right here doing the same!