Sweet summertime means lots of bonfires, BBQ’s, family gatherings and parties! What that also means is a lot of smore’s, beers and hotdogs as well. Now, I am not here to teach you how to say no to all these things. I am just here to give you a few tips on how to navigate nutrition during summer parties, while also still enjoying yourself!
If you are anything like me, then you grew up with alcoholic beverages at every gathering, and a table full of finger foods that could feed an army (even if there were only 10 people there). This means that a lot of these habits have followed me into my adult life. Like, who actually sits by the pool on a Saturday afternoon without a fruity drink and a bag of tortilla chips? NOT ME! But, I also don’t overindulge every weekend while doing this. It comes down to willpower, and how bad you want to reach your goals!
For me, the main reason I am able to navigate these parties is because overindulging on the wrong foods leaves me in pain. My stomach is sensitive and I can only handle so much. This is both a blessing and a curse because it keeps me from overindulging, but also keeps me from some of my favorite things like ice cream and cheese….nonetheless, there are still a few tips I always carry with me during these busy party filled summers..
The very best thing you can do if you are concerned about parties and what they are going to offer, is to host the party yourself. This means you get to be in control of the menu, or at least the main parts of it. If you don’t want to cook everything, you can offer to make the main dish (so you can have something more sustainable than hot dogs, like burgers) and then have your guests bring a side dish. This allows you to have control over the protein source (very important) and then you can still offer a quick salad and your guests can still feel included and have their dish’ of choice.
If hosting the party is not an option, you can always just bring a dish to pass that you know is healthy. This means you could bring fruit/veggie trays for healthy snacking, or you could bring a salad of some sort that has a protein in it so that you get all your main macronutrients in the 1 dish. This allows you to get the bulk of your meal from good sources, and then you can have just small servings of what others bring instead of having to rely solely on that.
Nutrition during summer parties leaves some people with mixed feelings. If you are serious about your goals and want to make sure you stay on track, then I would suggest eating before you go and totally refraining from eating while you are there. For most people this seems rude, but it doesn’t bother me. Mostly because I typically can’t eat anything at these parties anyways (most people don’t prepare a gluten/dairy free spread) but also because it’s my own business.
You will likely get kickback from it with people asking you why you aren’t eating, and telling you to “let loose” or “it’s the weekend” but stay strong! If your goals are important to you, then you can still enjoy the party without eating your weight in Doritos and beer. When I take this route, I typically don’t eat anything while I am there, unless there is fruits and veggies. This is because once I grab a few chips, I mindlessly keep going back for more. So if I never have any in the first place, the craving to get more isn’t there.
The other option is not eating anything before you go and eating only at the party. A lot of people tend to eat something first so they aren’t starving at the party, and then opt for a little plate while there…but that doesn’t usually work out like that. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but as soon as you grab that plate and start loading up “a little” bit of food, you are usually going to over do it. This means you now ate before you went and are eating again, which definitely results in overeating. So if you are going to plan to eat there, just eat there.
Load up on protein sources and be mindful of where your other calories are coming from. Meaning I wouldn’t have a burger with a bun, and then potato salad, pasta salad tuna noodle salad, 3 slices of watermelon, a handful of chips and some dip. That is very carb heavy and is going to leave you in a sugar coma. Be smart, even out your food distributions among macros!
In a cocktail shaker, combine strawberries, and lime juice and muddle until strawberries are completely dissolved. Add mint leaves and gently tap 5 times with muddler. (Do not over-muddle mint or it will taste bitter and muddy.) Add vodka to shaker and fill 2/3 full with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds.
Fill a glass with ice and add club soda. Fine-strain cocktail into glass and stir gently. Garnish with lime, mint, or strawberry, if desired.
If you know you are going to be indulging more than normal at a big party, maybe have lighter fare throughout the day. Emphasize protein (since that isn’t always available) and eat a little lighter on carbs and fats beforehand. This will allow you more freedom in your daily calories to consume at your party! I would also suggest maybe having 1 drink an hour, or make sure you have some water between drinks. This will slow you down and you won’t be consuming too many adult beverages which leads to really mindless snacking in that ever so desired “buzzed” state. You can always opt for a lighter cocktail like vodka and soda rather than a blended margarita or craft beer, as those tend to be calorie dense.
The best thing to do is just be aware of what you are consuming. Be conscious of what you already ate that day so you are not totally over doing it. Because even if you are on track 5 out of 7 days, you can still be in an overall caloric surplus for the week if you really over eat on those 2 weekend days! So be smart, and think about your goals, prioritize your health!
Just a few simple tips that always help me whenever I find myself with invites to 23984732 things. When in reality, I would rather be sitting on my couch watching Netflix. Anyways, I hope this helps decrease some anxiety around parties when you are “dieting” and you are able to enjoy yourself more freely. Also understand that life is also too short to be too serious for too long. So remember to give yourself some grave when you need it and eat the soul foods we all know and love, even if they don’t do much for our physical body.
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