I don't know about you but I always thought the most dangerous "dieting" times of the year were the months between October and January. Considering those are the months that contain Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas, it just seemed like there were temptations around every corner.
But...the last few years I've noticed that the summer months seem to offer bigger hurdles for me than those major holidays.
The snack bar at the pool entices me with chips and ice cream. The kids are home and they want to enjoy some special snacks in the house. Every weekend seems to include a cookout or get-together with friends & family. We have several summer birthdays, not to mention Mother's Day & Father's Day. Seriously, every time I turn around there's a reason to eat out or indulge in "off plan" meals & treats.
And then there's the biggie: The 4th of July!
Does your table look something like this?:
Hamburgers & hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, several kinds of chips, dessert options like brownies & pies, sweet tea & lemonade. All buffet style!
It ALL looks delicious, it ALL brings back great memories of summers past, it ALL unites friends & family & fun. So, how do you enjoy the day, make new memories, and still stay on track with your health and fat loss goals?
First, realize that it's your choice to go all out on this holiday or to practice moderation. If you decide to enjoy it with no limits, then do it without guilt and get right back on track at the next meal. It won't do you any good to beat yourself up about it later.
You're in control, whichever way to choose to go.
But if you're going to practice mindful eating...
Try These Tips:
1. Really be intentional about how you'll indulge. Be picky.
If you go into the holiday with no plan, you'll eat everything in front of you. But, if you decide that you'd be most satisfied with something salty, then choose to enjoy some chips and forgo the dessert table. Or maybe you've craved your mom's potato salad all year. Okay, choose that and then maybe leave the bun off your burger. If indulging your sweet tooth would be the most satisfying, then lay off the bread & chips and enjoy a brownie (or 2).
These brownies are a better option and just happen to be fantastic!:
2. Fill up on protein first.
Filling the majority of your plate with protein is a smart strategy. It fills you up and satisfies.
Then finish out your meal with a reasonable portion of the other foods you've chosen.
Here are some healthier versions of the typical summer staples:
4th of July Hotdog
Grilled Salmon Skewers
3. Don't hang out by the food.
Go play volleyball. Catch up with Aunt Mable. Push your cousin on the swings. Go for a walk. Engaging your mind and body elsewhere, will keep you from salivating over the dessert table.
And isn't that where the memories are created anyway? You won't remember those double fudge brownies in a month, but you will remember Uncle Harold's stories about his childhood.
That's good stuff!
4. Stay hydrated.
Sometimes, when we think we're hungry, we're really just thirsty. Especially on a hot summer's day. Staying hydrated is key. Just make sure you're not drinking empty calories.
Try infusing your water with fruit, veggie slices, & herbs to add some "wow".
Here are some ideas:
Fruit Infused Water
5. Bring something "on plan" to the party.
It's always a good idea to bring something you know you can eat and not have to worry about. Maybe a veggie tray with hummus. Or how about a platter of fruit? A cold watermelon?
Bringing a colorful summer salad will guarantee there's something you can enjoy.
Try one or more of these:
Watermelon Mint Feta Salad
Tomato Cucumber Salad
Our Family's Favorite Salad
6. Be grateful.
When it comes down to it, this day isn't about food. It's a celebration of our country.
We're blessed to live here. We're blessed to be able to celebrate with friends & family.
We're blessed to have an abundance of food.
Thank you to those who have sacrificed and those who serve now. We are grateful.