What’s there not to love about summer? There is nothing better than a sunny hot lazy day, spending time outdoors and indulging in delicious food and drinks while relaxing on a patio. Summer is the season of BBQs and social events that seem to evolve around tempting food and refreshing cocktails that are hard to resist. Even for the most disciplined health fanatics it can be challenging to maintain a healthy balance. It’s no surprise to see after a summer full of indulgence can result in the numbers creeping up on the scale.
Fortunately we do not have to sacrifice our summer of socializing to keep healthy and fit. With a few clever tricks to incorporate into your lifestyle you can still enjoy all the summer celebrations without adding inches to your waistline.
1. Focus on Your Company Rather than the Food. Before you head out to the event be mentally prepared to BE social and to mingle with as many people as possible. Make it a priority to put your energy into your friends and family rather than the food that is laid out. Mid way through the event grab a small plate of healthy options available and only eat until you feel comfortably satisfied then continue chatting with guests.
2. Know What Your Weaknesses Are. Learn what your indulgences and trigger foods are and either limit or skip this food all together and choose a healthier version if possible.
3. Be The Healthy Host! Even though hosting a social gathering can create a lot of work, it is the best way to plan a healthy summer party for your friends and family. You can create your own menu with clean and mouth watering dishes by using fresh fruits and vegetables and lean healthy meats. Most traditional summer favorites can also be modified to reduce calories and extra fat. Your guests will love the new variety and will feel better for it!
4. Bring a Healthy Dish. If you are invited to a summer gathering, offer to bring a main or side dish rather than a dessert. This way you can choose to make something that is healthy and that you enjoy. As well, you may find that it is the only healthy option available so at least you can fill up your plate with your dish and take “tastes” of the other not so healthy options.
5. Be Mindful of Portion Control. Always be aware of the amount of food that you are loading onto your plate. Use your best “visual” judgment as a measuring guide. A good rule to follow is to fill half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with lean protein, and the remaining quarter with grains (optional). In the summer months I tend to lean more towards fresh produce then grains, they fill me up and leave me feeling less sluggish.
6. Avoid Drinking Your Calories. Summer events always tend to lead to quenching your thirst with alcoholic drinks, high sugar sodas, juices and frozen drinks. One or two of these high calorie drinks can add up and before you know it you have reached your daily caloric intake! Try to reach for water as often as you can, it should be your main source of hydration. If you find that water tastes too bland then you can add fresh citrus fruits, berries, cucumber or crushed mint for a refreshing treat. If you do choose an alcoholic beverage try to choose vodka and soda with a splash of lime, wine and light beers. Avoid high sugary, juice-based cocktails as they can have as many as 500 calories!
7. Use the 80:20 Rule. All year round I encourage using the 80:20 rule, which is eating clean and healthy 80% of the time and indulging 20% of the time. It’s okay to indulge once in a while and to not beat yourself up when you do. With an active lifestyle and a healthy eating plan in place, you shouldn’t see any change in your body. Life is way to short to not enjoy the summer and to indulge a little. It is all about living a balanced lifestyle and feeling Healthy, Fit and Happy!