Wow! We can finally get out of the house and socialize in the summer sun! We can visit friends and family, go to birthday parties, enjoy the water and party til we just can’t party no more! It’s wonderful, right? Everyone has joked and made memes about their weight gain during quarantine, but the true challenge is here now, getting through a “normal” summer without gaining weight.
“Well-Meaning” Friends and Family
You know the ones, Aunt Mabel with the Lemon Supreme Pound Cake, Uncle Bob with the special barbecue sauce and the aged bourbon that he saved just for this occasion, your Mom, your sister, your dog and your best friend. They ALL have something “just for you”! You just HAVE to have a “little bit”. The problem is, if you do, you will ingest about 5,000 calories, 500 grams of sugar and revive your sugar addiction and be off track all summer. There are ways to avoid this pitfall.
If you show up ravenous at an event where there is a lot of food, and food-pushers, you will cave and eat everything that they are offering you plus a full menu of your own. Before you leave home, have a serving of high-quality protein and fiber. A couple of cheese sticks and an apple will fill the empty space in your stomach and stick with you for a couple of hours. Two boiled eggs and some berries will work. The idea is to have some fiber with your protein so that the fiber binds with the protein and stays in your stomach for a while. A protein bar and an ounce of your favorite nuts will work great.
You know what you like, so decide on your protein first and then pair some fiber with it. When the food pushers come around, it will be much easier to stand your ground and stick to your healthy program.
Make sure that you drink water all day, not in excess, but regularly. You might want to read David’s article How Much Water Do I Need? to learn about hydration. Beng hydrated will fill you up and just make you feel better. If you have less space in your stomach to over eat, you are less likely to give in to the party mentality and over-indulge. While I don’t necessarily agree with the statement that sometimes we think that we’re hungry and we’re only thirsty, a lot of people do believe that to be true. Either way, being well hydrated will keep you from feeling empty and dull your hunger a bit, so drink up.
I remember hovering around the food at parties. You know, you get a seat at the end of the dessert table and just hang out talking to whomever comes to get dessert. The problem is, you can all too easily reload your plate, and you do. If you’re at a pool party, swim. At a picnic, play with the kids. When you’re just hanging around in someone’s house, leave the food behind and mingle with the crowd. Other people may not notice your uncontrolled, nonstop munching at the buffet but believe me, you and everyone else will notice when you can’t fit into your jeans. Do what a party was meant to do and socialize.
Free food is not free when it raises your medical bills due to the complications of obesity. If it’s your party, or you have any input into planning the event, focus on keeping the party active. A barbecue at a trailhead with hiking on the schedule is much better than a lone grill master outside and everyone else inside mixing margaritas. If you say that you’re trying to get healthy, live it. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. So much of our lives is up to us to decide. Make healthy decisions and reap the benefits.
But, What Do I Eat?!?
Whenever I go to any event with food, the first thing that I do is find my protein. I look for the richest source of protein on the menu. This will usually be meat, fish or chicken, without breading, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. Steamed or grilled shrimp is a wonderful summer treat! If someone is grilling hamburgers, I eat the ground beef with everything except the bun. If you really want that bun, go ahead. Limit it to one and avoid any other refined or simple carbs like desserts or sugar-laden drinks.
Baked beans are a fine food if they’re made with sugar free ketchup and a 0 calorie sugar substitute and they’re just as good or better than the ones that are full of sugar. You might also add some ground beef to those beans to up their protein. Cole slaw without added sugar is fine. If you like it sweet, make it with that same 0 calorie sugar substitute. It works good, I’ve made it many times and I live in the Deep South where cole slaw is a staple. I don’t eat hot dogs because they are a processed food that does not stave off hunger for very long.
Steak is wonderful, full of muscle-building protein. Once you have nailed down your protein, decide what you would like to have with it. Sometimes I just eat the protein but if you’re going to be at the event for very long, you might need to add some complex carbs like beans, potatoes or whole grain bread. A piece of fresh fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth and give you a bit of fiber. These same tactics work for eating in a restaurant. Always focus on protein first. It is going to satisfy you more than any other food group. Avoid desserts unless there is a “no sugar added” option.
You can search on the Home Page of this website, in the search box, for a recipe for almost any dessert that you would like to make and carry to the event. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us through comments or the “Contact” button, and we’ll help you find a recipe that will work. You can also buy “No Sugar Added” ice cream in practically every Walmart on Earth and many varieties are good. If you like ice cream, try a few until you find one that you like. You can look in our “Product Reviews” and find more than one review on various “No Sugar Added” ice cream. Don’t drink alcohol. It’s sugar-based garbage.
STAND YOUR GROUND
The old saying, “Misery loves company.” is all too true. Even if the people who are trying to sway you to abandon your healthy initiatives are loved ones, they very well may be miserable, unhealthy people who really don’t want you to prove that being healthy is usually based on the decisions that you make every day. If you prove that, then they are accountable and most people don’t want to be accountable.
They want to drift along, making bad decisions every day and blame genetics on their plight. While bad things do happen to very good people and health freaks do sometimes get sick, a lifetime of good decisions usually results in optimum health, just as bad decisions do the opposite. Regardless of their status in your life, don’t let other people sway you. You are the one who has to live, or die, with your decisions. Make good ones.