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Grillin' And Chillin' Your Way Through Summer Food Events

by Jamie Allers, RDN



Ever struggle to maintain your lifestyle changes during the winter months? Oftentimes we tell ourselves that it will be so much easier in the summertime! But will it? The summer is loaded with get-togethers, BBQs, picnics, happy hours, vacations, and all types of celebrations that are filled with food and alcohol. Use these tips to float through summer like you’re relaxing down the lazy river in an inner tube! 

  1. Plan ahead! If you are hosting this is an easy one because you control the menu! Make sure to have a good source of protein and some type of veggie to help fill your plate. Consider some extra to-go containers for guests to be able to take leftovers home, especially if there will be dessert lingering around. If you are going to a friend’s house and feel comfortable, ask about the menu ahead of time. This can be helpful as you can offer to bring something that may not be on the menu yet, such as a veggie platter, salad, or pepperoni and cheese plate, etc. Going out to happy hour with co-workers? Check out that menu ahead of time and try to decide what you will order. This way you will not be as tempted by the specials when you walk through that door. 
  1. Do not save up for the party! It might seem helpful, but skipping meals to ‘save up’ for a food/drink event might end up back firing. Getting to a party too hungry will leave you extra tempted by what is around you. Not to mention the drinks, alcohol on an empty stomach will digest quickly. Once your inhibitions are lowered by alcohol, it is even easier to eat more or choose foods that you would have passed on otherwise. 
  1. Stay hydrated! First of all, it is hot! Warmer weather and more sweating = increased hydration needs. Staying hydrated also helps you to be more aware of your hunger levels and not mistake hunger for thirst, which will lead to better decisions when eating socially. Having water between alcoholic drinks does not hurt either. It is a great way to help you to drink in moderation! On the topic of drinks, try to stick to lower sugar wines, clear liquors with no sugar mixers, or light beers. 
  1. Remember your Pounds plate! When you arrive to a BBQ, there can be tons of options and it is so easy to go down the line and start filling your plate without thinking twice. Keep the image of a balanced plate in mind. Fill up half your plate with veggies, incorporate a palm size of protein with some healthy fats, and if choosing a starchy side dish let it fill up ¼ of your plate. This technique can work for all types of meals. If there are apps served, grab mostly veggies, a spoon of dip to go with them and a handful of pepperoni and cheese slices (after filling up your plate you may have room for a few chips on the corner of the plate). When the meal is served grab a hefty serving of salads and slaws, a cheeseburger without a bun and if there is a sliver of your plate left, there could be room for an ear of corn. Try to prioritize your protein and veg when getting food, and see how this can improve your choices at events. 
  1. Try to include activities other than food! The good weather is a perfect opportunity to do some things unrelated to food, such as back yard games, tossing a football, going for a walk, spending time at a pool, and just being outside in general rather than hanging by the food that is in the kitchen. Have some alternative activities ready to balance out the day. 
  1. Have fun!!! Soaking up those summer events is one of the best parts of the season! Remember to choose what food or drinks are worth it to you, skip what is not, and do not beat yourself up for having too much fun. Start the next day fresh with your typical choices! 


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