Beach parties, BBQs, sunshine and yummy foods galore! Time flies and somehow July is already upon us. Personally, I love summer and the energy it brings. Everyone seems to constantly be out and about throwing parties, attending parties, grabbing drinks just for fun, and chatting around the fire pit late into those warm summer nights. And what would social summer gatherings be without food? Packing a picnic for your day at the beach, snacks for a boating adventure with friends on the river, or weeknight BBQs just because it’s a beautiful night. But with so much focus on going out and being social during the summer, it’s also easy to get a little anxiety about the food and just how to stay on track with your health goals. Don’t worry, you are not alone out there! It’s hard to leave a summer party without eating, so check out my survival guide below full of simple tricks for how to stay on track and keep your hard earned summer bod while savoring the foods of summer!
Your Summer Party Survival Guide:
1. Start the Day with a Workout
Beginning your day with a good sweat is not to encourage more caloric burn so that you can indulge later, but to get you in a more health-centered mindset for the day. Personally, when I start my mornings off on a productive active note, such as a good workout, I’m more inclined to focus on refueling my body for recovery. The day started off strong, so let’s continue those healthy choices throughout the entire day! In addition, a morning workout will help you feel more awake and have more energy afterward on top of the release of endorphins that will naturally improve your mood.
2. Don’t Skip Breakfast
How many of you are guilty of “saving” your calories for later? That’s actually one of the biggest traps we can fall into before a party or social outing. By the time you get there, you’re famished, everything looks delicious, and you go straight for those refined carbs and sugary treats because your body knows that is the fastest way to get quick energy. Before you know it, you have completely overindulged for the day on snacks alone! Start your day off with a satisfying breakfast incorporating a mix of fat, fiber, and protein to keep you satisfied and cut the edge off your hunger until the festivities begin. Aim for something rich in antioxidants too, such as a big plate of sauteed veggies topped with with an egg-over-easy or tofu scramble.
3. Have a Plan
This doesn't mean know exactly what you’re going to eat at the summer party, but think about your health goals and what parameters you want to work within for your day’s festivities. For example, maybe you’d like to have a few drinks throughout the day; ahead of time, consider just how many drinks you’d like to allow yourself to have. Perhaps you know you want to have a sweet treat, being mindful ahead of time helps keep you aware of your choices, slow down and enjoy what you’re actually consuming. In addition, have an accountability buddy. Tell them your goals ahead of time so you feel more inclined to stick to them and you have additional support. Even if your only planning ahead of time is to simply be mindful of what choices you’re making and when you’re full, that may be a victory you will feel proud of!
4. Bring a Dish
What host doesn't love a little extra help? Offer to bring a snack or dish that you know is a little more nourishing than the usual bbq ribs, mac & cheese, mayonnaise-based potato salads, and extra fudgy brownies commonly served at BBQs and summer parties. Aim for something fresh and full of vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Skip the boring veggie tray though and make sure it’s something enticing that you’ll want to add to your plate when all of the foods that don’t fit your health goals are also calling your name. Or if your summer festivities involve just hanging out with friends along the river, bring some healthy snack options, like fresh fruit and homemade energy balls, to share with everyone so you don’t end up picking up convenience food on the way home.
5. Take What you Love, Leave What you Like
This is one of my favorite tips that you’ll find yourself using for every party, holiday, and social gathering alike. We often feel enticed to take a little bit of everything when a buffet table is placed in front of us filled with all sorts of yummy foods. Those “I’ll just try a bite of two” adds up and before you know it, your plate is overflowing! So rule of thumb, take what you love and leave what you like. If you’ve been waiting all year for your aunt’s homemade peach pie that you only get when she’s in town visiting and it’s your absolute favorite, have one piece and really savor each bite. But if your friend made his famous pasta salad that’s good but isn’t your personal favorite, don’t feel as though you need to take it just because he made it and it’s there.
6. Practice Portion Control.
Just because it’s the summer and we’re finally coming out of hiding from the rainy winters of Portland and being extra social for the few months we have of sunshine, that doesn’t mean portions need to go out the window. If you’re going out to eat, be mindful of sizes. Your group orders an appetizer to share, use the small appetizer plate to separate some for yourself so you don’t overindulge without even knowing it. Or once your main entree comes out, assess the size and split it in half if it’s more than you would consider a healthy serving. When lining up for the buffet at your next party, choose the smaller plate option if there is one. Your brain will see it as a full plate, but you’re sure to take far less food than if you opted for the larger plate. When it comes to portion control as well, keep this guide in mind for easy, on the spot measuring estimation:
- Fist = 1 cup
- Cupped hand = 1 to 2 ounces or ½ cup
- Flat palm = 3 ounces (for protein)
- Thumb = 1 tablespoon
- Fingertip = 1 teaspoon
People who eat more slowly tend to consume fewer calories over the course of a meal. Why? You’re giving your brain and body a chance to realize you’re full before jumping up for your second, or maybe even third round at the buffet table. Summer outings are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. Savor each bite and truly enjoy the variety of special foods that come with summer!
8. When you’re Finished, Go Play!
It can be pretty tempting to keep munching at the buffet table when you’re standing right next to it. Instead, start up a lawn game with friends and family at the party! Whether it’s just tossing the frisbee or getting a big volleyball match or game of kickball going, everyone is sure to be in store for a little friendly competition and a good laugh. Who knows, maybe it could even turn into an event you do at future parties together! Another great tip, bring a favorite lawn game or two along with you to ensure there’s something to play!
9. Stay Hydrated.
No matter where you are in the US, it’s most likely going to be a tad bit, if not overly hot, during the summer months. It’s important to stay hydrated, but that’s sometimes easier said than done. It’s easy to go overboard and have one, two, or even three more drinks than you wanted to have. Even if it’s non-alcoholic, that sweet summertime lemonade and iced tea adds up. I get it too, water is a bit boring at times especially when it’s a party. So kick your water up a notch and make it a drink worth celebrating! I love making ice cubes from the juice of watermelon and tossing in some fresh mint leaves. Another option is to throw in fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, grapes, red raspberries, strawberries, or cubes of apple and pear. Try sparkling water too to make it even more festive!
Most important of them all in my opinion, RELAX! We often get so wrapped up being afraid we might completely backtrack due to social summer events and outings, that we ruin the festivities by obsessing about every detail. All that pressure is giving way too much control to the food around us. Look at your motivation, your goals, have a plan and enjoy the experience. Summer is about the friends, family, fun, endless laughs and memories made along the way. Let the food stress take a backseat where it belongs!
Between parties, outings with friends, adventures with your kiddos and soaking up every bit of sunshine, don’t stress about the food or waste your precious time preparing meals. We’ve got you covered here at Fit Kitchen Direct, so make sure to check out our weekly menu rundown and place your order so you’re summer set! Our meals will be your new favorite travel buddy on your next road trip to Cannon Beach or afternoon spent kayaking on the river!
Melanie Matta, MScN