Labor Day is just a few days away! This first Monday in September celebration often is heralded in with gatherings amongst family and friends. Sometimes it can be challenging to maintain healthy lifestyle habits around holiday gatherings, especially if everyone is not on the same page. It’s helpful to have strategies that work at the ready. Today we want to share with you 5 solution-focused strategies for navigating Labor Day gatherings so you feel satisfied and won’t feel that you missed out on a thing.
5 Solution-focused Strategies for Labor Day Gatherings
#1 – Bring something to share that incorporates seasonal produce. Many of the food traditions associated with Labor Day are filled with the best summer has to offer. Not only is flavor at its peak, seasonal produce is packed with nutrients (and lower in cost). Below you see a variety of beautiful tomatoes.
An easy, colorful, flavorful salad with Tami’s crew is simply chilled diced tomatoes and cucumbers tossed with light Italian dressing. The flavor intensifies if the salad is chilled 30-60 minutes before serving. (Stir it up and pop in the cooler. It will be good to go by the time you arrive at the gathering).
Another well-loved side dish is roasted carrots. They’re low in carbohydrate, high in flavor, and won’t keep you hanging out in the kitchen. Toss sliced or diced carrots with some olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Roast at 425 degrees in an even layer on a sheet pan until fork tender (about 20-25 minutes).
#2 – Make a swap or two. Consider the foods that are often at Labor Day gatherings and determine where you can make a swap or two for health. One of our favorites is swapping lean turkey burgers in place of hamburgers. Maybe everyone doesn’t want a turkey burger, but having a few on the grill is a tasty option for those trying to be health conscious.
Another delicious swap is spiralized zucchini salad in place of traditional macaroni or pasta salad. Raw fresh zucchini is crisp and delicious with little carbohydrate. A spiralizer is a handy, inexpensive kitchen tool. Here’s a simple way to make a zucchini salad with a Mediterranean flair (you can find more Mediterranean swaps and ideas in our July 17, 2019 blog here.)
#3 – Portion your plate by the healthy plate for diabetes. As we shared in our July 3, 2019 post, when you are ready to sample the celebration spread, if there’s a choice on plate size, go with a smaller plate (maybe the ones that are out for salads or desserts). Then fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables (such as veggie salads, green beans, or sliced tomatoes), one fourth of the plate with lean protein foods (such as a grilled turkey burger or grilled chicken), and one fourth with carbohydrate foods (this is where potato salad, corn on the cob, or a sweet treat may fit). Partitioned paper plates can do the portioning for you. Not sure partitioned paper plates still exist? Here you go, just a click away. When asked how high one can “pile the plate”…try to keep it no higher than a deck of cards is thick. This simple strategy has brought success for many when navigating picnics and celebrations.
#4- Go on a walk early in the day. We are believers in making a commitment to move even more when we know there is a weekend or vacation ahead filled with a few indulgences. Taking a walk early in the day (as you’ll see us doing with our husbands on a holiday escape to Chicago), makes sure that movement doesn’t get pushed out by other holiday activities. And if you find blood glucose out of range 1-2 hours after you eat, take another walk to help lower blood glucose.
#5 – Focus on fellowship and laughter. We believe that laughter is the best medicine, and we try very hard to practice what we preach. Scientists have shown that laughter is a great stress reliever and causes mental relaxation. Laughter can even improve blood pressure, pain, and immunity. Most importantly it strengthens human connections when we laugh together. There is now actually “laughter therapy” defined by the National Cancer Institute as therapy that uses humor to help people cope with medical conditions by relieving pain, stress and improving well-being.
You’ll find 4 more of our tried and true solution-focused strategies for picnics and celebrations in our July 3, 2019 post.
As you prepare for Labor Day gatherings, we challenge you to consider the following:
- What strategies have worked well for you in the past to navigate picnics and gatherings?
- Which of the strategies that we’ve shared might help you?
- Choose at least one of those to put into practice on Monday
We’d love to hear from you on strategies that worked for you! Happy Labor Day!
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