Tag: Parties

BBQs, Restaurants, and Parties, Oh My!

BBQs, Restaurants, and Parties, Oh My!

The weather is starting to change for many of us and as we transition into warmer days and higher temperatures, it often means getting together with friends and family for BBQs, potlucks, picnics, graduation parties, and outings/events that have finger foods and appetizers.  While all this is great and provides lasting memories, remember that potlucks and parties also mean added calories.  Spring and summer are often the time for family get togethers and reunions, graduation parties, and BBQs, but it also means buffet style eating which equates to lots of food.  Frequently, these types of gatherings mean grazing on appetizers and snacks followed by a large buffet style meal and ice cream, popsicles, trifle and punch bowl cakes, cookies, cheesecakes, and lots of delightful summer favorites for dessert.

Some great ways to cut back and lighten BBQs, potlucks, picnics, and graduation parties is to have fruits and veggies only as your appetizers to reduce the extra calories that chips, cheese dips, pretzels, etc have.  If you want dips, consider veggie dip, hummus, and fruit dip.  These can be enjoyed with fruits and veggies and prevents unnecessary salty foods for dippers.  If you are having a potluck style get together, plan out the meal so that you have a balance of sides that are healthy.  You might consider limiting the number of sides to 3 and ask guests to refrain from bringing chips, pretzels, etc and help with drinks, paper plates, napkins, etc to fulfill the list of what is needed.  Another great way to help with portion control is to not leave the actual meal and sides out all day.  While grazing makes it feel like a fun party atmosphere, consider leaving food out for a specific amount of time.  For example, 11:30-1 for a midday gathering and 6-7:30 for an evening get together.  It is nice to allow guests to graze, but leaving food out all day can be unnecessary.   I realize you want to make parties enjoyable for your guests, but I PROMISE that guests will thank you later for not ruining their diet, making them feel miserable from overeating, and preventing a high calorie meal that they feel guilty about the next day!  Consider keeping your more healthy options out all day, like fruits and veggies, if you feel the need to have something for your guests at all times.  Go ahead and put away the main meal such as brats, hot dogs, burgers, pasta salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, french fries, tator tots, etc to prevent grazing all afternoon and evening.

The next obstacle to tackle during spring is how often you eat out!  You may want to put a limit on the number of times you eat out each day and each week.  During the winter, we often tend to curl up at home and make comfort meals to enjoy, but once the weather changes, there is often a spike in how frequently people eat out.  The weather is nicer so you enjoy being out more.  A great way to combat eating out too much is to set goals for yourself.  For example, don’t allow yourself to eat out more than once per day and more than X times per week.  Personally, I typically try to allow myself to eat out one lunch and one dinner during the week (Monday – Friday).  During the weekend, I try to eat no more than two complete meals out.  Try to look up calories and nutrition on restaurant websites when possible and consider hidden calories such as salad dressings.  Remember that foods in restaurants often have extra additives, may be overly processed foods, and typically have higher caloric counts than home cooked meals.

Don’t forget about the alcohol at parties.  Often outdoor BBQs and parties have alcoholic drinks or even virgin drinks that are high in sugar and calories.  These calories count, too!  You don’t want to have 3 sugary, high caloric drinks, appetizers, a large buffet meal, and dessert at a party and end up eating two meals at one time!  That can destroy your progress!  I understand the hard choices that summer BBQs, parties, potlucks, and picnics present, but remember you can enjoy it all in MODERATION (and by using some or all of these tips!) 😉


Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

The holidays are just around the corner, which means potlucks, family gatherings, and work parties.  It’s a time of year which often means putting on a few extra unwanted pounds and losing the body definition you have worked hard on all year long.  While it’s one of the most fun, joyous, and cheerful times of year, it can also quickly become the most dreaded when you add ten pounds to your waistline.  To lessen your caloric intake and still enjoy the holiday season alongside your family and friends, consider some of these tips.

One tip that can be helpful is to drink plenty of water prior to going to holiday parties and potlucks.  This helps give you a full feeling so that you will eat less.  Further, you can eat something small and filling like an apple.  An apple helps give you a full feeling for a long period.

Parties, gatherings, and potlucks often mean buffets, which can be very tough for many people.  With buffets, avoid standing at the buffet tables and bars that have finger foods, appetizers, and hor’derves  sitting out.  Instead, grab a plate and fill it with 1/3 cheeses, meats, dips, chips, and snack foods while filling the other 2/3 of the plate with fruits and veggies.  Additionally, allow yourself to only visit the table once and then throw your plate away.  Upon finishing, socialize in other areas away from the buffet table so you cannot reach the food.  Same goes for drinks because drinks add hundreds and hundreds of extra calories and often give people the munchies!

While parties and potlucks are a fun holiday tradition, they also tend to have an “appetizer and munch” period followed by a large buffet meal that is often followed by a dessert buffet.  Rather than eating and munching on appetizers, try to stick to core meals during the holiday season so you don’t fall victim to eating so much.  These core meals during the holiday season are already much higher in calories than an average meal, so sticking to core meals and avoiding the appetizers will help cut down on extra calories.  Further, if your gatherings, potlucks, and parties include a dessert buffet, stick to one regular portion size of dessert OR choose up to three small, bite-size portions of several desserts that you would like to try.

I recognize that many people have family recipes, casseroles, and dishes that make the holiday season special, but one great tip is to limit your meal to one casserole and serve basic vegetables such as green beans, corn, asparagus, etc. as other side options.  For example, choose either green bean casserole, corn pudding casserole, sweet potato casserole and then have basic vegetables as sides rather than as casseroles.  This helps eliminate having three to five casseroles that have cream of mushroom soups, additional heavy cream, sugar, and lots of butter.  If this is something that cannot be done and you must have many different casserole dishes at your holiday table, consider using substitutes (that you will love and feel good about and I promise your family won’t even notice).  For example, use part cauliflower in mashed potatoes and low-fat milk in casseroles in place of heavy cream or melted butter.

Lastly, and I say this lightly (so that you don’t think of it as an excuse to eat whatever you want during the holidays!), it is important to remember that your body does not expect you to eat perfect all the time, everyday, all year.  You can always redeem yourself later with motivation, will power, and a positive attitude of improving.  So, while I won’t encourage you to eat a slice of pumpkin pie and pecan pie at Thanksgiving or eat cinnamon rolls, eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon on Christmas, I will tell you that if you do slip up, you can make it up, preferably sooner rather than later!

One last quick tip is try to squeeze in some brisk walking with your family before or after holiday gatherings.  It’s a great way to socialize and it makes you feel even better when you sit down for your big feast!  My family actually makes it a routine to take a brisk walk before eating Thanksgiving to keep us from feeling so full later in the day!

Tis the season…for GREAT food, family, and GOOD health!


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