Q: Labor Day is approaching, there will be end of summer bbq’s and cocktails. Since we are eating clean, what is your advice on choosing what to eat and drink at these bbq’s?
I hate BBQs. I’m not even gonna lie. Someone’s always wondering what’s on my plate, whether or not I need some more, if I’m trying to lose weight because I’m not ODing on the potato salad… whatever. For me, it’s enough to make me forego the food part altogether and go hide off with those bad kids. The ones that are misbehaving because they know their parents came just so that they could sneak and “drop them off.”
I’d rather deal with Bebe’s Kids than deal with BBQ food and people all in my plate. It’s that deep, y’all.
But for someone who actually wants to enjoy themselves and have a little food and some good drinks, I do have a few tips that – while they aren’t the “cleanest” of eating tips, they can certainly ensure that you won’t eat as much as you normally might and you will still manage to enjoy yourself.
- Keep a glass of water on you at all times. Why? Firstly, water actually helps you fill up. Drinking water while you eat slows you down, and gives your body time to process the fact that food is being put into it. Since it takes your mind approximately 20 minutes to realize that your body is full, taking time to slow down and drink water (a vital part in weight loss, anyhow) will give your body time to realize what’s being put inside of it, and how much. Besides, you know what the alternative can do to you.
- Portions, portions, portions! I know that Aunt Pookie (hey, I love my Aunt Pookie) has the world’s best scalloped potatoes, and I know that you love ’em and all, but commit yourself to portion sizes no larger than the palm of your hand.
- Put the satellite dish-sized plate down. I’m serious. You know y’all have those Thanksgiving-specific plates that are large enough to double as someone’s rims. Don’t do it to yourself. Stick to a regular sized plate, palm-sized portions, and allow yourself to try a bunch of different things… not simply overdoing it on the few things you love.
- Leave the obviously-store-bought-stuff… alone. I jokingly asked this question on twitter, but I’m serious. Those store-bought pies, those boxed mashed potato flakes, the scalloped potatoes that come from the Betty Crocker magic elixir? Leave it alone. Why? Foods that are processed are, well, processed – genetically engineered to be easier to chew, not leave food in your teeth, or “fill you up.” Unfortunately, it only turns back into the same powder it originated from, with all the calories and none of the “full” feeling… leaving you not only still hungry after all those calories, but on a carb high, at that. That wonderful “melt in your mouth” feeling that M&Ms has convinced us is a good thing? It might be wonderful for chocolate… really not ideal when it comes to actual food.
- Adult beverages? Hmmm… this is tricky. I’m a former bartender, so I’m quick to tell you “if you must drink, get a designated driver and drink it straight!” but some might think differently. Just sayin’. Honestly, I’d scale back the liquor, but if you insist? No soda, no sugary “punch.” Purchase a bottle of seltzer water before you arrive, if for no other reason than for you to avoid the soft drinks. (And no, diet isn’t okay.) If your drink is a bit more tart than you’d like? Good. Then you’ll drink less of it. Sweeten it by adding fruit (remember, use naturally ccurring sweetness) or skip it altogether. I know, I know, “I can’t believe you’re saying it’s OK to drink” but really… if your family is anything like mine, it’s either the bottle or a bullet. (By the way… Hi, Mom!)
(For more, check out “How To Get Through The Holidays!”)
Now, aside from some other basics (limit the “creamy,” “unnecessarily greasy,” “fried,” ridiculously sugary” and my favorite category – “hellasalty”), there is one final important thing.
Remember – you don’t go to a barbecue to agonize over eating clean. You go to enjoy yourself… not overindulge and then guilt yourself about overindulging! The food makes an outing more pleasurable, but agony certainly can and will ruin it for you. If you manage to keep the basics in mind and still listen to your body, you’ll find that you enjoy yourself more and not ruin your clean eating. And if you try and it doesn’t work out completely? Take it as a learning experience… and think about how you can do better next time. Do not guilt yourself. You might even get there and realize that the stuff that’s there isn’t even appealing to you anymore… quite a way to surprise yourself this holiday, no?
What clean eating tips do you have to get through your Labor Day? What foods do you struggle to avoid during the hlidays? Let’s hear it!