One of the best things about taking part in celebrations is enjoying the company of family, friends, and of course, food.
I’d like to offer some strategies for the upcoming graduation season and summer parties to help you stay in control of your eating. It’s important to enjoy yourself and splurge a little. It doesn’t have to be a threat to your healthy diet or your waistline.
A little planning ahead will help balance things out and avoid overdoing it.
A good place to start is to make a list of all of the celebrations and parties you will be attending. By looking at your list you will get a feel for the types of food that will be offered. Then when you are deciding what to wear, you can also decide what you will eat. All foods can fit into a healthful eating plan. The secret is to be sensible and flexible with your choices.
Forget the all or nothing mindset. Depriving yourself of special foods and treats or feeling guilty over a particular food choice is not part of a healthy eating strategy. Have fun! Sharing food is an important way to enjoy a special occasion. Don’t forget dessert! Consider sharing with others; a small bite of several items can be quite enjoyable.
Celebrating with family and friends need not destroy healthy food habits.
Skip the “everyday” foods and enjoy those “special treat” foods. Or balance your favorites with low-calorie foods such as vegetables with a small amount of dip or boiled shrimp with lemon. Keep portions within a reasonable range by choosing a small plate and fill it full of food. Your brain will see a bunch of food on a tiny plate and feel very happy.
Don’t forget to consider what you will drink. Soda, juice and alcoholic drinks can add significant calories compared to how they feel. Drinking your calories doesn’t fill you up the way food does and can lead to overeating.
Finally, consider earning your extra calories by increasing your activity level. Walk around and talk instead of just sitting at a table.
Join in a game of volleyball, swimming, dancing or just taking a walk will help burn some extra calories. Avoiding feeling sick and overstuffed will help you to enjoy yourself more and still have fun.
Mary Koch is a clinical dietitian at Banner Churchill Community Hospital and consultant for Pershing General Hospital. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.