12 Jul Navigating the Summer BBQ
Yes, we all love the summer season. Brighter days tend to lighten the mood, plenty of time outdoors, evenings relaxing in the garden and of course: THE BBQ. This week, our Health Practitioner, Frauke, has some handy hints and tips on making healthy choices at the summer BBQ.
Now we all love a good BBQ, but when trying to lose weight, buffet situations in general and BBQ’s more specifically aren’t easy. Throw into the mix the intense food smells and it’s easy to see why the summer BBQ can be tricky to navigate.
Here are a few handy tips that can help turn the summer BBQ into a pleasant experience:
#1: Go with a plan for food and drink
This one might be completely obvious or maybe it’s so simple it hasn’t occurred to you. When trying make healthier choices, having a plan is half the battle. For one it gives you a strategy to follow and secondly it makes you more likely to do it because you have thought about it before hand, rather than leaving it to chance. Including a plan for your drink is vital because drinks often come with hidden calories. In addition, alcohol can diminish our resolve and make us more peckish. So, how about asking yourself, “What do I most look forward to at a summer BBQ?”. Is it the food? The drinks? Activities? Socialising? Make sure to prioritise your preferences. Try reflecting back at the end of the day, what would I still be happy with having eaten and drunk today?
#2: Don’t go hungry – have a snack before you go
You would think that going somewhere with plenty of food, you wouldn’t need to eat beforehand, wouldn’t you? But think for a moment: you’re going somewhere where you will be surrounded by mouth watering smells. If you arrive super hungry you are going to be much more tempted and it is going to be all the more difficult to make mindful choices around what you eat and how much you eat. If you have had a little snack before you go, this might help curb the cravings and save your appetite for the things you really look forward to.
#3: If food contributions are required, take a healthy option
Often summer BBQs entail bringing a dish. Traditionally this might mean meat or drinks and nibbles. But how about thinking outside of the box here? BBQs are often short on leafy salads, a veg kebab or a nice fruit salad. Why not volunteer to bring something healthy? That way you know there will be at least something that fits your plan.
And if you’re the host: even more reason to think of some healthy options. Lots of people won’t even notice its healthier as some veg based salad options such as roast vegetable couscous or a tabbouleh are simply delicious.
#4: Pick a space away from the buffet and BBQ
Standing next to the buffet table or BBQ makes it much more likely that we will reach out for extra snacks and nibbles. This is really easy to do subconsciously whilst we are having conversations with people but can soon add up! By taking a seat a little further away from the buffet table of BBQ where the sights and smells are further away, it can really help to reduce the mindless grazing. Keeping eating to a more limited time can really help get the most out of socialising!
#5: Fill up your plate only once
This is a hard one at any summer BBQ jut because food tends to be available over a prolonged period of time. However, if you plan beforehand to only go up once, try to stick to that. That will naturally reduce how much you will eat without really thinking about it.
#6 Think about plate proportions
Thinking about how much of the different types of foods are on our plates can make a real difference. If you brought a salad or spy a plate of crudites, aiming to fill half your plate with these things will mean you get sufficient fibre and you get a nice full plate of food. Aim to fill a quater of your plate with protein – think that burger, sausage or leaner meats such as chicken and fish. Then aim to fill the final quater of your plate with starchy carbohydrates to help you feel satisfied. Of course, these are guidelines, be sure to enjoy the other foods available too! As long as it’s in moderation all foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
#7: Watch your drink
Keeping hydrated in hot weather is important. But it’s worth remembering that drinks can add to the amount of calories consumed in a day. As mentioned earlier, alcohol can diminish our resolve and cause us to feel more peckish. So how about drinking more water or interspersing an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one? Or waiting with alcohol until after you have eaten? Another strategy might be to opt for being the driver. At the end of the day, you have to be happy with the choices you make.
#8: Don’t go back for seconds – wait at least 20 minutes
Endless availability means it is easy to keep going up for more food. Try and remind yourself of the plan you made. Resist the temptation to go back for seconds. Wait a least 20 minutes from when you finish your plate. Why 20 minutes? This is the time it takes for our brain to process the fact that our stomach has received some food. If you have waited for that time, ask yourself: do I really need any more food or do I feel full already? More often than not you will be fine.
#9: Have an answer ready to decline extra food offers
It’s a BBQ. People will come round asking you to eat more. If that is something that you normally tempt you, think about the answer you’d like to give. Things like “Thanks but I am full”, “I’ve had enough thank you”, “I’m saving space for . . . (i.e. pudding)”, “I am driving, so no thanks”, can all be valid responses. Make sure it fits in with what you feel comfortable with.
#10: If all else fails – have a plan B just in case
So the original plan has gone out of the window. Again, if this is something you have anticipated, you will have had a chance to thin of alternative options you have now. If you’ve eaten or drunk more than you wanted to, having a plan for eating food smart for the rest of the day or the day after can still contribute to even things out and to feel back in control. There is no need to over restrict, eating balanced, regular meals, keeping hydrated and doing some gentle, joyful movement can help us to feel back on track. If it comes to it, don’t give yourself a hard time, focus forward.
What ever you choose to do, make sure you have a good time.
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