There are many ways to be healthy at summer cookouts, barbecues, and picnics.
Here are 10 tips to help you make better choices for health and weight loss at gatherings.
Lark can help you make healthier food choices to support healthy living and weight loss every day of the year, no matter the occasion.
The vast majority of Americans celebrate Independence Day in some way, whether it’s a day off of work, traveling to visit family or friends, or attending a parade or a cookout. These types of gatherings can have a lot of unhealthy food, but you can still make choices to lose weight and support better health. Here are 10 tips for a healthy fourth of July or summer gathering.
1. Eat Well
Though fatty and high-carb choices may be available, there can also be a lot of lean and nutritious choices at a cookout or barbecue. If you’re hosting, you can be sure to serve some healthy options. If you’ll be a guest, you can ask what will be available and adjust accordingly. For example, you can bring a pack of veggie dogs or a pack of chicken breasts to put on the grill and share with other like-minded guests who want to eat well.
2. Smart Hydration
Staying hydrated may take some effort if you’re outdoors more than usual, especially if it’s a hot or humid day. Make sure water will be available wherever you are planning to go, or carry a water bottle with you if you’re not sure when your next chance to hydrate will be. Sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, black coffee, and plain iced coffee are all good choices.
Skipping sugar-sweetened beverages can help you avoid extra calories, not to mention excess carbs and sugar. Here are examples of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Lemonade and juices
Blended coffee drinks
3. Bring Something Healthy to Eat
If you bring your own healthy food, you’re sure to have something nutritious to eat. You can bring a single portion if you’re going to a parade or large party. If it’s a smaller gathering, you might feel more comfortable bringing something to share. Here are some examples.
A package of veggie burgers or plant-based hot dogs for grilling
Some sliced zucchini, eggplants, or bell peppers that are ready to throw on the grill
A nutritious salad, such as the Roasted Vegetable Salad listed below
A watermelon, cut in cubes or wedges
A basket of peach halves to grill
A platter of cut, raw vegetables with hummus or guacamole
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Whole-Grain Pasta
Makes 12 Servings
12 ounces of whole-grain pasta, such as penne
1 diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini, chopped roughly
1 eggplant, cut into cubes
2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 cup of fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Place the onion, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar, and toss to coat. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
Toss the vegetables and pasta in a large bowl. Add the basil and cheese, and season to taste.
4. Use Your Plate As a Tool
An empty plate is like a blank canvas with unlimited opportunity. Will you take advantage of the chance to have a healthy, festive meal? Start by filling your plate half or mostly full with vegetables, such as grilled or roasted vegetables or green salad. Add a serving of lean protein, such as a veggie dog or chicken breast. Then, use the small remaining space on your plate for a small portion of a treat, if you see one that you’ve been craving.
5. Choose a Treat
Speaking of treats, is there one that you’ve been looking forward to all year? Have you been craving a slice of red, white, and blue sheet cake? Does your neighbor make the best potato salad for July 4th? You don’t have to give up your favorite treat, just serve yourself a small amount of what you love. Then sit down and savor every bite while you eat it.
6. Keep Moving
Any movement you can do during the day can improve your health and make you feel better. It’s a good idea to take a walk or work out before the festivities start. Consider asking a friend or guest to meet you early for a walk. Remember to stand up and move around every 30 minutes throughout the day to keep blood circulating. Logging your activity with Lark can help motivate you to stay active.
The American Cancer Society says to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it to areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun, and reapply as needed throughout the day. The UV index can be high mid-summer, and it’s best to prevent burns.
8. Watch the Clock
You might eat more than you planned if you eat throughout the whole party. It can be a helpful strategy to only eat for a period of, say, 20 or 30 minutes during the event. Otherwise, you might keep munching for hours.
Planning when to eat and when not to eat can be even more important if your day will include multiple events, such as a morning parade, a mid-day barbecue, and an evening pre-fireworks dinner. You might want to plan to have only one or two platefuls at each event so you don’t overeat.
9. Safety First
Along with being safe and legal with fireworks, it’s important to consider food safety, especially during summer months. The Food and Drug Administration says that 1 in 6 Americans get a foodborne illness each year. Creamy salads and chicken are a few common culprits when it comes to food poisoning. Some safe food handling practices include washing hands often, avoiding cross contamination, and following recommended temperature guidelines for serving and storing food.
10. Sleep Well
Are you staying out late watching fireworks? Then get everything in your home ready before you leave so all you have to do when you get back is get ready for bed. That way, you can still get a good night’s sleep after the show.
How Lark Can Help
Fun is part of life, and it can be a healthy part of life, too. By selecting nutritious foods and following a few other tips, you can have a healthy Independence Day this year. More help is available when you use Lark. Lark can help you make good choices every day to improve health and manage weight, and you can access Lark 24/7.
Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.