Summer is in full swing, and many of us are heading outdoors for barbecues, cookouts, and other social events that revolve around food.
If you’re health-conscious though, you may be wondering how you can navigate these summer events while still feeling your best and sticking to your health goals. We asked Elaine Moen, health coach, Ayurvedic practitioner, and director of wellness, to share her top tips on how to make healthy choices during this season’s social gatherings.
1. Keep Water on Hand
Being dehydrated can make you feel hungry and cause you to reach for unhealthy foods. Ensure you maintain proper hydration by consistently sipping water. Don’t like the taste of plain water? Try adding different touches, such as lemons, strawberries, mint, or even slices of cucumber to your H2O for a hint of flavor.
2. Eliminate Alcohol
For many people, summer cookouts and alcoholic beverages go hand-in-hand. If you’re looking to eliminate the calories or sugar found in many of these drinks from your diet, consider swapping them out for flavored soda water, which usually contains minimal sugar and calories.
To enhance the experience, pour your soda water into a fun cocktail glass, or experiment by incorporating flavored ice or fruit for a fun mocktail recipe.
3. Pay Attention to Sugar
Many summer BBQ staples—think store-bought foods such as drink mixes, salads, condiments, or snacks—contain lots of added sugar. To cut back on sugar, pay close attention to food labels, and consider making your own dishes and beverages so you know exactly what’s in them.
4. Bring Your Own Nutritious Foods
If you’ve been invited to a summer cookout, your host will likely appreciate if you bring a dish to share with everyone. Take some time to research and find a healthy and delicious recipe that you can prepare yourself.
This presents an excellent opportunity to shift your perspective on healthy eating. Instead of focusing on deprivation, aim to nourish yourself and feel energized while enjoying the company of others.
5. Eat Your Food in the Right Order
The order in which you eat your food is important. Fill up most of your plate with protein and veggies, to get essential vitamins and nutrients. Eat complex carbs second to avoid a glucose spike.
Remember that it’s perfectly fine to have some pasta salad, bread, or dessert with your meal, but make sure they take a backseat to the foods that will provide your body with sustained energy.
6. Get Creative With Food Swaps
Need a cheat sheet on quick, healthy BBQ swaps? Refer to this list for your next cookout:
- Opt for multigrain or whole buns instead of white bread buns
- Choose lean red meats, chicken, fish, or plant-based protein instead of regular burgers
- Go for grilled vegetable kabobs instead of meat
- Select homemade vinaigrette dressings instead of cream-based dressings
- Pick homemade fruit, pasta, and vegetable salads over store-bought salads
- Drink unsweetened iced tea or flavored sparkling water instead of cocktails
- Fill your plate with berries, watermelon, or fruit kabobs instead of desserts
7. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Ensuring you have fun is a crucial aspect of maintaining good health. It’s essential not to become overly stressed about adhering to healthy food choices. Deviating from your usual eating habits for a single meal won’t have detrimental effects. Remember that your mental, social, and emotional well-being are equally significant as maintaining a healthy diet.
The Bottom Line
A little preparation and research can help you make healthy choices and feel your best all summer long, even at social events.
Looking to have your healthiest summer yet? Get started with our free health assessment to better understand your health and where you could improve.