As a dietitian, I consistently stress the importance of balance and moderation when it comes to eating healthy. I also reinforce the meaning of special occasions and holidays and the role of food in those celebrations. Fourth of July is the picnic of the year! We’re celebrating Independence Day. It’s supposed to be fun. But it doesn’t have to be a calorie festival either. If you can just remember “it’s not about the food – it’s about the people you’re with” you’re well on your way to having a great time and staying on track with your healthy eating goals.
Here are some tips for a happy and healthy picnic:
- Eat with your eyes! Enjoy the look of all the food that’s there and pick out what you think you will enjoy that will also nourish you.
- Stick to one plate. It’s OK if you see something that looks “rich” and “off limits,” you shouldn’t feel deprived from what you put on your plate. Choose a small portion and balance out the plate with healthy salad greens, fresh vegetable crudite, and some lean protein like chicken. Take your time to enjoy every bite. Stop when you feel full.
- Lay off “the sauce”. Not only is alcohol a source of empty calories, but it can really lower your inhibitions and take you totally off track. If you’re going to be at a party for several hours, start with a sparkling water and keep your alcoholic drinks to one or two servings.
- Make it mostly healthy. If you’re hosting, you have a ton of control. Make sure there are veggies, fruits, salad greens, and beans incorporated in the foods you’re serving. Keep the chips, pretzels, and sodas on the small side. If you’re not hosting, bring a couple of healthy dishes. If you love egg salad and potato salad, health-if-y it by using nonfat Greek yogurt as a base and just a tablespoon of mayonnaise for flavor.
Have fun this Fourth of July! Make sure to share your good stories of achieving your healthy eating and exercise goals so you can inspire others to follow your lead! If you need a little help and support, ask a friend for some encouragement and check out more holiday diet tips here at DietsInReview.com.