Your Summer Cookout ‘Survival’ Guide

The idea is to grill and chill, not grill and GUILT. Banish the barbecue anxiety with this cookout “survival guide.”

The unofficial start to outdoor summer celebrations has arrived! Yards have been mowed and the charcoal is ready for all the grillin’ and chillin’ to be had this Memorial Day.

It’s an exciting time of year for a lot of people, but it can bring anxiety for a certain population. For some, the mere thought of consuming a cheeseburger is enough to break the dream of the elusive “perfect summer bikini body.” For others, they worry about being surrounded by unlimited treats and keeping control with their weight-loss efforts. I had one client confess to me recently that she planned to only attend one social gathering this holiday weekend to keep herself from the potato salad, desserts, cocktails and anything else that wasn’t “diet-approved.”

Remember this friends: the majority of people I’ve met who want to get fit do it because they aim they think they should lose weight to feel good and be happy. But when the quest of being healthy becomes more of an obsession that keeps you from really enjoying your life, it’s no longer healthy.

That doesn’t mean gorge on the brownies at the dessert table and eat a plate of potato chips and trifle. It means that it’s important to have balance in your life. Instead of fearing the food, check out my tips to feeling good so you can enjoy your times with friends.

Get your workout in that morning before the party. It will start your day off right and get your metabolism going, as well as keep your appetite in check. No matter what happens the rest of the day, you began with a win. Nothing beats the endorphin high of a good sweat.

Drink plenty of water. I’ve written before about how it’s easy to mistake dehydration for hunger.  You’ll stay satiated and keep a cool head.

BYOFood: Bring your own healthy appetizer, side or drink or dessert so have at least one option you are happy with. Of course, check with your host, but I’m sure he/she would be happy to have the help.

Look for the veggies. Fill up on raw crudites instead of the chips and green salad instead in place of potato. Kabobs are a great option because they are stacked with protein and grilled vegetables.

Easy on the booze. For one, it will lower your guard against something (i.e, snacks)  you probably wouldn’t choose sober. Two, in the summer heat, you will get dehydrated more quickly. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. If you want to stay fancy among the drinkers, opt for a sparkling water with a lemon.

They say if you’re bored, head to the food table to meet new people. My solution – if you’re bored, get active! Start a game with the party, whether physically active or seated. You’ll have a great time and forget all about getting a second burger from the grill.

On that note, here’s the best tip I have for all of you: ENJOY yourself. The real point of a gathering is to enjoy the people and the occasion, not to feel “forced” into eating a cookie. But at the same time, eating one cheeseburger will not “ruin” your progress.

Remember that you are in charge or your own body. Listen to your body and eat when you feel hunger and stop when you are full. Then sit back, feel the summer breeze and laugh with the people you love.

Originally published in Your Tewksbury Today May 30, 2016. 

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