Tag: Snacks

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!) 😉


Snacking can be an enemy…choose snacks wisely!

Snacking can be an enemy…choose snacks wisely!

Snacking is something that I have never really understood because I am not a big snacker.  I don’t love chips or candy bars or have cravings that I feel like I need to fill, but I do know that a lot of people do have snack urges and feel the need to satisfy their snack tooth with something.  Snacking, as long as controlled, can be a great way to provide energy to your mind and body.  It may be just what you need to give your mind and body a mid-morning or mid-afternoon boost, so do what works best for you based on your lifestyle.  While I don’t encourage myself to snack because I feel that snacking is often carried on throughout the day or ends up adding up to an additional meal, I do have a few pointers that I utilize in my daily meal preparations that can also be used when preparing and eating snacks.

The best way to include snacks in your day, and I cannot stress the following enough: measure them out AND place the measured amount in baggies or containers so you will NOT be able to continue snacking until you decide to stop.  It is best to give yourself a specific amount of food, which is why measuring out portions is important.  So rather than taking a bag of chips to work to snack on throughout the day (or all week), measure out single serve portions so you don’t overeat and add additional unnecessary calories throughout the course of your day.

Another quick tip is if you know you are going to be out during a meal such as running errands around lunch or dinner time and may find that you want to grab a bite to eat by going through a drive-thru window, take some veggies or a snack that will hold you over until you get home to fix your lunch or dinner.  Not only does this save you money, it saves you calories, and can help you from feeling starving by the time you eat next!

Here are a few options for snacks that I often eat with my wrap or sandwich at lunch:

-hummus with veggies

-trail mix of craisins, dark chocolate chips, and almonds

-popcorn single serve bags

-swiss cheese and whole grain crackers

-apple slices and peanut butter

Try to keep snacks to 100-125 calories so you aren’t consuming the amount of calories in a meal as a snack.  While I won’t say happy snacking because I am not going to encourage it, I will say happy healthy eating and making choices that will allow you to feel more energized!


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