How to Eat Healthy at Your 4th of July Cookout

The sun is out, the temperature is rising and the calendar makes it official: it’s summertime! For many, this means cookouts, barbeques and endless fun in the sun. For others, this means struggling with eating healthy, controlling portions and regular exercise. Understandably so, but don’t let this year’s summer get-togethers get in the way of your healthy eating commitment. A little know-how can go a long way in keeping vigilant throughout the summertime. With the 4th of July holiday right around the corner, here are my top 7 tips to help you eat healthy at your upcoming cookout.

Follow the “Plate Method”

Following the “plate method” helps to give some general guidance when going through the party buffet. Fill up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and/or fruit, a quarter of it with a starch like potato salad or a roll, and a quarter of it with lean protein such as a turkey burger, seafood, veggie burger or chicken breast.

B.Y.O.D. - Bring Your Own Dish

B.Y.O.D.: Bring your dish every get together.That way, you know what ingredients you used, how it was prepared and it can be comforted knowing that it is truly a healthy dish. It’s always a good idea to keep a list of some of your favorite dishes that travel well and you feel comfortable enough cooking to whip them up quickly. Additionally, your hosts and fellow party mates will be grateful for a light and healthy dish to balance out the meal.

Get Your Z’s

Lack of sleep is a huge willpower killer. You’re more likely to overeat, crave foods high in sugar and not exercise! Make every effort to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night and if that’s not possible, try to sneak in a nap throughout the day.

Reduce Stress with Music

Stress can be a reason to over-eat. To lighten your stress, consider doing so by listening to soothing music. It can immediately reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Less stress leads to less cortisol- making it easier to avoid weight gain.

Drink Lots of Water

Drink lots of water throughout the day. Many times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you'll lower the risk of overeating.

Don’t Get Stuck

If you couldn’t stop yourself at the party buffet or dessert table, it’s okay. Try not to let the guilt fester and maybe add some exercise to your routine after indulging. It is a great time for a long walk or hike. And always remember that the next day is a new day. Don’t let it be a reason to continue indulging in unhealthy habits. One meal is just that, one meal.

Don’t Skip Breakfast!

As anyone who's tried to eat sensibly knows, starving yourself now will just have you eating much more, later on. To combat the urge to fill your plate over and over again, make sure to eat breakfast that morning. Choose a sensible breakfast with protein and fiber.

With these tips, hopefully you’ll find yourself more prepared to eat healthy at your upcoming 4th of July cookout.