With picnics, out-door patio's, Fair's, BBQs, celebrations, parks, parties and the longer nights and nicer weather, we often are faced with with food and drink choices that we might not usually indulge in. As the heat and alcohol consumption rises, our common sense, portion control, any previous goals we had made and self control seem to inversely decline. Ironically, this seems to be the season which we are more body conscious too. This can lead to regret, stalled progress, plateaus, frustration and an 'all or nothing' mentality.
Remember, just because it's hot outside, "he's hot" and you want to fit into that tiny bikini, or little black dress doesn't mean you can't enjoy, have fun and indulge! Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you on your game.
1. Portion Control
This is the most obvious answer, but it really is the 'magic key' to lasting health and fat loss. You can have anything; in moderation. This doesn't mean 1/2cup of broccoli and 2 vats of ice cream. Make sure you are getting all your macro-nutrients in! You'll be less likely to feel deprived, hungry, and over eat.
2. Pick your faves
Let's face it. Carnivals, theme parks and Fair's aren't exactly known for their healthy fare! Funnel cakes, mini fried donuts, corn dogs, kettle corn, hot dogs, fried oreo's, pizza, cotton candy etc are what most of us associate with these places. In fact, I'd wager that theme parks are known for their food! Pick your favorites, or 1 or 2 items you want to try and savour every bite! Don't eat anything and everything just because it's there and you can. You are not a garbage dump. Act like a food critic. Pick a few things that may be new and interesting that year (fried coke anyone?), or maybe splurge on the mini donuts you have every year and it reminds you of your childhood. Just know where to draw the line (Deep fried butter is taking it too far!) Plan ahead and bring healthy snacks too.
3. Make your own
Sure everything looks so good and you want it all without the consequences. Why not make your own healthy version? It's fun messing around in the kitchen experimenting! Make protein ice cream, or buy the healthier great tasting version (skinny cow!), swap out ingredients in your favorite baking recipes (sugar free syrups, sugar free pancake syrup, pineapple juice, pureed fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt, protein powder, egg whites, pumpkin puree, apple sauce, sugar free pudding etc). Use less of the 'unhealthy' food and layer it with the healthier counterpart (ice cream and yogurt or low fat ice cream), make parfaits with cereals, fruit and other toppings that give you the sweetness and crunch. That way you can have your cake and enjoy it too! (and still fit in your jeans!) Buffalo burgers and Turkey burgers are great lean meat alternatives, as are grilled portabella mushrooms, lean beef and bison!
4. Bring your own
Parties are full of what I call 'the world's unhealthiest food' display ever. It seems like whenever we are asked to bring food to a party, we use this as an opportunity to add mayo, butter, cream, lard, sugar etc to anything possible! Never have I seen so many dips swimming in butter, lard, and unnecessary artery clogging ingredients! Yes you want to be a good guest, but try to be remembered by something other than causing a heart attack with your mom's world famous 11 layer cheese and fried chicken dip. Bring something that you would want to eat but make it healthier. Bulk it up with fruits and veggies, use low fat ingredients and bring a healthy option. Everyone likes grilled chicken. Also, remember, just because it's there doesn't mean you have to eat it! Bring your own (if it's a BBQ type party). The hostess will most likely appreciate the contribution and it'll offer variety to the other guests. If you will be at the beach all day, bring some healthy snacks to munch on so you aren't left eating the chips. Bring bars, fruit, drinks, nuts, veggies, chicken breasts, healthy crackers, air popped popcorn, Popsicles, jerky etc. Be prepared.
5. Host it
You are in control. Your place, your rules- you don't feel like you are being inconsiderate or rude by turning away food. It's on your turf and terms. Spend the day with girlfriends making healthy food swaps that taste like the real thing. Get them each to bring a 'healthified' version of their favorite food. Get the guys to grill and enjoy each other's company! Kebab's are great party food- easy to clean, eat and fun! Seafood is another great option this time of year!
6. The Water Principle
The theory of volumetrics! Your stomach can only hold so much. Make sure you drink before you eat. Thirst is often confused for hunger. Drink something low calorie before you eat and stop often to stay hydrate. Make low calorie Crystal Light martini swaps, seltzer etc. This will also keep your hands occupied, so you aren't mindless eating your way through the spinach dip. Try adding fresh fruit to pitchers of lemon water (try orange wedges, cranberries, cucumbers, strawberries etc), or make your own diet soda concoction!n For every alcoholic drink you drink, drink a glass of water or non alcoholic beverage. This will go a long way in preventing you from falling in love with the guy you swore looked like Brad Pitt, from dehydrating yourself and ending up sick, keeping your bank account in check and keeping the waist line from expanding!
7. Special Day
If you know that the carnival is coming, or someones birthday party is around the corner, give yourself permission to indulge! Make it a special day. Enjoy the cake. Seriously, it won't kill you! Allocate that day as a sort of 'cheat day' or 'cheat meal'.
8. Forget and move on!
Do not beat yourself up or try to over compensate the next day with under-eating. This will only get you thinking on food and lead to more eating to deal with the guilt. Your body will balance itself out. Just forget the binge and go on as normal. Guilt has never benefited anyone! Focus your energies on something productive and positive. Don't diet and deprive yourself in attempts to make 'calorie' amends. I promise you will regret it and end up in a vicious binge cycle. It's JUST FOOD!
9. Eat your veggies and protein!
Again, this goes with the theory of Volumetrics. Your stomach can only hold so much without feeling like it's going to burst. Avoid the sugar crash and post food spree regret and fill it up with first with protein, fats, healthy carbs and a little room for that Apple Pie (or 2)! Protein, fats and carbs maintain satiety, healthy blood sugar levels, blood chemistry and mood balance. When we cut out foods groups this leads to vitamin and mineral deficiency's, which lead to cravings as our bodies way to fulfill those deficiency's. (Chocolate cravings can be attributed to Magnesium deficiencies).
Enjoy every minute of the sun on your face, the laughter and love of good family and friends and the summer festivities! Just plan ahead and you won't have any regrets looking back!