No, we’re not talking about that kind of weekend you don’t tell your S/O about when you’re out of town. Instead, we are talking about avoiding a weekend where you “break” and eat nothing but fried dough and Hostess ice cream. Ye,s Hostess now makes ice cream, but let’s stay on point. Follow the diet-friendly tips I have provided below, stay strong, keep your goals in sight and you just might make it through the holiday weekend without going bananas at the family cookout.
1) Avoid Starchy Carbs
My friends, it is time for you to know the truth, just because a food has “salad” in the name does not mean it is healthy for you. With that said, one would want to avoid potato salad and pasta salad if one would prefer to remain healthy. Another temptress waiting on the wings of that kitchen table is the always inviting casserole. Of course, casserole just means a mixture of ingredients baked together into a dish and scooped onto a plate, so it is not inherently bad for you. But the large majority of casserole recipes call for heavy cream, cheese, potatoes, etc. which are the waist line’s biggest enemy. Of course, you will also want to avoid the more commonly known bad guys like fries, chips, or really anything fried in general.
If you are still looking to fill your plate without stretching your pants you should instead look for the greener side, the veggie tray. Take advantage of this and stay light on the veggie dip. Another good replacement is complex carbs like rice. I can’t say I have ever seen rice at a cookout but I am sure you are always welcome to bring a dish, so think about planning your options.
Be sure to check out our Happy & Healthy guide for more info!
2) Avoid Sweets and Sugary Drinks
Almost always will there be that lazy couple who brings a box of cookies for the party and calls it a contribution. They would almost go unnoticed they were not so sharply contrasted by the overachiever's homemade cake pops placed just next to the circular disks of preservatives and sugar. My friends, you are stronger and smart than the manimals that will gorge themselves on these treats while they still have a mouth full of grandma’s mac n’cheese. Don’t take the bait.
Also be aware that others will likely not be as health conscious as you are. Thus, the drinks situation will likely be alcohol (to be addressed later) and soda. Soda is a no go. Even diet soda has been shown to cause fat cells to pool around the midsection for that spare tire we struggle to remove.
Some of the things we like to do instead is bring a fruit salad, berry melody, etc. to the shindig. This way you get your sweet fix without all the processed sugar and empty calories. As for drinks, unsweet tea is easy to make and keep in a tumbler. So is water with a lemon-lime, cucumber, or fruit cocktail floating in it. Lemon water is a personal favorite. It is cool, tastes great, and the taste it leaves is almost a sweet tooth killer.
3) Limit Sodium Intake
Salty snacks are usually filled with the 3 no-no’s: fried carbs in fatty oil and sprinkled with salt. These aromatic and salty treats reek havoc on our bodies. But they are undoubtedly a staple at most annual gatherings. Try to avoid them and replace that void with a sampling from the veggie tray or even consider bringing your own healthy trail mix to the party.
4) Avoid Processed Fatty Meats
If you are going to a grill/cookout the centerpiece is almost always fatty meats. It is the primal ego inside of us that loves tearing into a juicy burger, brawt, mett, hotdog, sausage, or whatever your uncle brought that looks he found it in the gutter but claims it won a competition “back in the day.” But you have to be smarter than that primal voice inside and realize this isn’t the right way to eat.
Never fear I am not here to say all meat is bad or that the grill isn’t your friend. So instead of these fatty meats look for a healthier option like chicken, turkey, or grilled fish. Tofu isn’t a bad way to go either if you have a healthy way to flavor that bad boy. Not to mention lean sirloin or for the fancier among us, filet.
Take a look at our Build Muscle guide for more protein tips for better gains!
I’ll keep this brief, no alcohol. Other than being riddled with sugars (brown liquors) and plenty of hidden carbs (clear liquors) alcohol can also chemically cause issues with your training and more importantly, your gains. It has also been known to process first sticking your other food in the back of the line, putting it at risk for additional fat storage. So, if you are so determined to take part in some libations that evening try a light beer or a single glass of red wine. Either way be safe and drive safe.
From everyone here at Uprise Nutrition, we would like the wish everyone a safe, healthy, and fun weekend. Be sure to use the promo code "Remember10" for $10 off when you spend $30 or more.
All in all, let's not forget what this holiday is really about, our fallen friends and family in the armed forces. From everyone at Uprise Nurition we would like to thank all the brave men and women who gave their lives so that we all the freedom to pursue what we love to do. Thank you.