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10 Tips for a Healthy, Fun, and Safe Labor Day Weekend

Natalie
Stein
September 1, 2023
Family enjoying a meal
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In this article:

  • A healthy Labor Day weekend is possible if you plan ahead.
  • Choose lean proteins for grilling, and fill your plate with vegetables to keep calories, fat, and carbs in check.
  • Staying hydrated and limiting alcoholic beverages can help keep you on track.
  • Fill most of your plate with healthy foods, but you can leave a bit of room for carefully chosen treats.
  • Lark offers a friendly and encouraging program that can help you establish healthy habits to reach your goals 24/7 when you use the app.

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Labor Day celebrations can be filled with fun, but they often involve high-calorie food and beverages that can get in the way of weight loss and healthy intentions.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make Labor Day healthy while keeping the fun in it. Here are some tips to keep yourself healthy, happy, and safe this Labor Day weekend.

1. Hydrate

You’ve probably gotten used to hydrating during the summer months, but a reminder can’t hurt. September heat can still be intense, which means you need to keep drinking fluids. Mayo Clinic notes that men need nearly 16 cups of fluid daily, and women need nearly 12. Watery foods, such as soup and fruit, contribute to this total, but you still need to drink plenty of liquids.

Water is the healthiest choice in most cases, since it doesn’t have calories. Ice water, sparkling water, and water with lemon or lime are all possibilities. Unsweetened iced tea and coffee can also help you hit those hydration goals.

2. Make Healthier Salads

Salads can be among the Labor Day foods with the most calories, carbs, and fat. Potato, pasta, and other mayo-laden salads are major culprits, but you can make your own delicious and nutritious salad to share. When you bring a big, healthy salad to a gathering, you are sure to have something healthy there that you can eat. 

Here are a few ways to make prepared salads healthier.

  • Use a small amount of olive oil instead of adding globs of mayonnaise to your salad. Yogurt and pureed avocado are other ideas for dressing bases.
  • Reduce carbs by using cauliflower instead of some or all of the potatoes.
  • Add a variety of crunchy vegetables to add nutrients and texture. Chopped cucumber, bell peppers, and broccoli are examples. 
  • Use fruit to add sweetness without using dressing that has sugar. Pitted cherry halves, blueberries, and diced melon can blend well.
  • Swap whole-grain pasta for white pasta or sweet potatoes for white potatoes to add nutrients. 
  • Diced chicken breast, cooked egg whites, and tuna are all healthy protein choices. 

If you don’t feel like making a prepared salad, it’s always a good choice to bring a simple green salad with lettuce, spinach, or spring greens as the base. Serve a light vinaigrette on the side. Then, you can pile your plate high with low-calorie greens.

3. Watch Alcohol Consumption

Alcoholic beverages may be part of your usual celebration, but there’s a lot to be aware of when deciding whether to drink. Here are some facts about alcohol.

  • Alcoholic beverages can be high in calories.
  • Alcohol consumption can lead to accidents and injuries.
  • Alcohol can cause long-term health risks.

If you choose to consume alcohol, remember that the recommended daily limits are 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women. Also, follow safety precautions such as drinking plenty of water, having a snack while you consume alcohol, and having a designated driver.

Alcohol-free beverages such as alcohol-free beer and wine, are becoming more common. You can also make your own alcohol-free mocktails. 

4. Use Seasonal Vegetables

This is a fun time of year when it comes to produce, as fruit and vegetables can be abundant. Load up on whatever’s on sale and looks good at the supermarket or farmers market, and serve them over Labor Day weekend. For example, you can toss sliced zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers in olive oil, garlic, and herbs, and roast or grill them. Serve them on their own, on whole-grain buns, or chopped in salads.

5. Plan for Healthy Grilling

Grilling can be one of the healthiest cooking methods, and there are plenty of nutritious options. Since there are also common choices that are far less healthy, it’s good to know which choices to look for and which to avoid. 

Choose

  • Lean meatless hot dogs and veggie burgers
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Skinless chicken
  • Salmon, tuna, and other fish
  • Shrimp

Limit

  • Hot dogs, frankfurters, and sausages
  • Chicken with skin
  • Fatty steaks
  • Ground beef
  • High-fat meatless products

You might want to bring your own protein to grill if you’re a guest and you don’t know what options will be available. It’s easy to bring cedar plank salmon,  a package of turkey or veggie burger patties, or soy hot dogs. You can also consider bringing a package of whole-wheat hot dog or hamburger buns.

6. Include Special Treats

It’s a holiday weekend, you’re justified if you want something special. Here’s thegood news, you can have it! Many healthy treats can hit the spot if you want something cold, sweet, or creamy, or just something that you don’t have every day.

Here are some healthy treats to consider.

  • Frozen watermelon cups made with pureed watermelon topped with vanilla Greek yogurt and chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, or sprinkles, and frozen in muffin cups
  • Grilled peaches or nectarines
  • Egg salad made with egg whites, Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, chopped celery and onion, and paprika

It’s understandable if you have your eyes on a treat that’s not so nutritious. It’s fine to have a bit. The best approach is to think carefully about which one or two treats you want to try, and to serve yourself just a bit. Eat them mindfully as you notice the tastes and textures that you love.

7. Use Smart Plate Strategies

Research suggests that your plate matters. Here are two strategies to help you build a healthy meal. 

  1. Use a smaller plate or bowl. At cookouts, they’re often available on the dessert table if you can’t see any with the rest of the food. Research shows that using smaller plates can help you eat less.
  2. Use the Plate Method. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad greens or grilled cauliflower. Put lean protein such as a meatless hot dog or piece of salmon, on one-quarter of your plate, and put a high-fiber carb such as grilled corn or avocado pasta salad, on the fourth quarter. 

8. Load Your Plate with Greens

If you’re not crazy about using a smaller plate, go ahead and take a large plate. Then, pile it high with low-calorie foods. At best, you can serve yourself large amounts of lettuce or other greens. Raw and cooked vegetables are great choices, too. Add a serving of lean protein, and your plate will have a bit of space left for a treat if you have a craving.

9. Socialize

Socializing can be one of the best ways to keep what you eat in check. When you spend more time talking to people, you are likely to spend less time eating - and that’s a good thing. Hang out with friends and circulate so you get to talk to more people. If there are some people that you don’t know, feel free to introduce yourself. 

10. Stay Safe

The most important thing this weekend is to stay safe. Along with hydrating and having a designated driver if you are consuming alcohol, consider food safety. Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer, with creamy salads and improperly handled meats being common sources.

Another way you can help yourself stay safe is by avoiding illegal fireworks. Instead, check for official fireworks shows to watch. 

How Lark Can Help

Making healthy choices can help you hit your weight loss and health goals, and a healthy lifestyle includes fun times with family and friends. You can make good choices this Labor Day weekend, and Lark can help 24/7. Your personal Lark coach can give you support and guidance to help turn healthy behavior choices into long-term habits.

Click here to see if you may be eligible to join Lark today!

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