Category Archives: barbecue

Surviving Summer Holidays (and Wedding Season!)

Ah summer, a time of relaxation and fun in the sun.  Right?  Sure, but a lot of that fun involves food and booze, and when you’re trying to get in or stay in shape, that can be more than a little stressful. On top of that, May through September is a time notorious for being (the sometimes dreaded) wedding season.  This means lots of champagne toasts, wedding cake, and sugary wedding favors – along with potential difficulty zipping up that bridesmaid’s dress.  So what do you do when faced with all of these challenges?  Avoid parties and BBQs altogether?  Vow not to touch the spread at any family picnics?  With a few tweaks to how you approach events, you can have your burger and eat it too.

Tip 1: Decide on what you reeeeeallly love

Is potato salad your all-time fave, or are you more of a strawberry shortcake kind of girl?  Does the five-tier wedding cake look a-maz-ing, or are you drooling over the entrée being served?  What do you love – and what could you do without?  Think about how you normally operate, and stick with that.  If you don’t normally love sweets, and the chocolate chip cookies or wedding cake appear cheap and store-bought, then go for the savory appetizers you do love!  After all, if it’s wedding cake you’re missing out on this time, you’ll likely have the chance to indulge in it once a month for the next five months anyway.

Tip 2: Socialize first

Do not, I repeat, do not head straight for the food.  First of all, most of us aren’t usually so starving when we arrive at these events that we must eat immediately (this is why every health article you’ve ever read says that it’s a good idea to have a healthy snack before!). At least I know I’m not.  When I do want to eat right away, it’s less because my stomach is rumbling, and more because I’ve spotted my cousin’s amazing Texas salsa.  So to avoid monopolizing the whole bowl, I need to catch up with family I haven’t seen in a while first.  At weddings, go congratulate the family before you hit up the cheese plate (ahem, or the open bar).  The truth is, many of us will go back for seconds of a few things, and maybe even thirds, so we can keep from grazing for the entire duration of the event if we don’t start immediately.  Plus, isn’t chatting with friends and family what these summer celebrations are all about?

Tip 3: Make smart swaps

This one can be a little trickier when you are only presented with what your host provides.  Eat whole wheat if it’s available, and go for the less caloric spreads when it comes to picnic sandwiches and burgers.  Mix some more fresh veggies in with that potato or pasta salad.  At weddings, chose lower-cal mixers for those drinks (again, watch that open bar!), and choose the healthier salad dressing if more than one is offered.  And hey, if your date isn’t the world’s biggest green fan (a lot of guys I know aren’t), see if he’ll swap his veggies for your potatoes.    

Tip 4: Get moving before the event

You know the drill – calories in shouldn’t exceed calories out.  So make sure you burn some extra before you indulge that day.  Plus, I can almost guarantee you won’t want to exercise after you find yourself in a food coma or after you’ve had that third vodka tonic (actually, I recommend staying away from the treadmill after this one).

Tip 5:  Pick one vice and stick to it. 

Ok, this one goes along with Tip #1 to a certain extent.  At these events, it can be almost impossible to be a perfect angel when it comes to your choices.  But the thing is, you don’t have to be.  You are likely to indulge a little (which is more than fine every once in a while!), so try to just indulge in one area.  Don’t have three burgers, four desserts, and ten beers.  Pick one of those celebratory vices and stick with it.  I’m not saying three burgers is OK (unless they’re teeny?), but I’m saying that you’ll feel a whole lot less guilty about it if that’s the only thing you splurged on.  Same with weddings.  If you want to get hammered because you’re back with all of your high school friends, then, well, I’m not going to stop you (mostly because I suppose that would be a bit hypocritical to say the least), but just don’t eat your wedding favor cookie along with everyone else’s at the table.  Your hangover will be enough without you feeling chock full of white sugar and flour.

Has summer party and wedding season begun for you yet?  How are you dealing with it?  Do you have any other tips to making surviving these (fun!) events easier?