Celebrating with family and friends on the 4th of July is a highlight of the summer for many. Sometimes it can be challenging to maintain healthy habits during group gatherings, especially if everyone is not on the same page. It’s helpful to have strategies in your back pocket to pull out. Today we want to share with you 5 solution focused strategies for navigating picnics and celebrations. We put these into practice during our recent trip to France, with the goal of enjoying a special vacation together, yet keeping it healthy. We’ll share how they worked for us. And we invite you to consider how the strategies may work for you.
5 Solution-focused Strategies for Picnics and Celebrations
#1- Eat fresh and local. We are fans of supporting local farmers and enjoying local produce at the peak of ripeness. When trying to decide what to take to a gathering, think local and fresh. Picnics can be laden with rich casseroles and sides, so taking a fresh, low carbohydrate side that you know will work for you helps to insure there is something you can eat at the event. One of our favorite go-to’s that is ALWAYS the first dish to disappear is this (you may know it as Caprese salad): juicy ripe sliced tomatoes on a platter, topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped fresh basil (or a dollop of pesto sauce), then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we’ll layer sliced avocado on the tomatoes as well. Serve with salt and pepper grinders alongside so everyone can manage what goes on their salad.
#2 – Portion your picnic plate by the healthy plate for diabetes. 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). 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. And, Tami recalls one client she worked with that embraced this as a “year-round” strategy, purchasing the “old fashioned” partitioned 9-inch paper plates to use at home. He went on to lose over 30 pounds managing his portions and blood glucose in this manner. And he was thrilled that he didn’t have to wash dishes!
We put the healthy picnic plate into practice on one of our outings to taste local Provence wine. We had a lovely outdoor picnic (on the perfect sized plate), including fresh salad, vegetable quiche, and fresh strawberries, all served in baskets! We felt very French!
#3 – Stick with small tastings. Maybe there are a number of things on the picnic table that you want to enjoy. And maybe you are not sure exactly what is in some of the dishes or how much carbohydrate they contain. One tried and true strategy is to stick with small tastings. You can sample a number of different items if you choose, fitting them within the plate sections reviewed above. And there’s a lesser chance of sending your blood glucose out of range with small tastings versus a serving spoon portion. This is a great strategy for travel as well discussed in our blog on Traveling with Diabetes.
We put this strategy into practice during our trip too as we embraced a Mediterranean eating style.. And while we had such fun sampling many delectable foods and treats, we came home without gaining any weight.
#4 – Fit in fitness. With the eating and celebrating, fitting in fitness can help manage blood glucose and spend more time in range. Whether it’s participating in a local walk/run, swimming, playing cornhole, or joining the kids in a water balloon toss. How can you fit in fitness on the 4th?
Fitness was a part of our daily routine while in France. Our days were filled with sightseeing and tons of walking, with most days averaging 15,000 steps or more. We came back in the afternoons and and swam in the pool.Then in the evenings we played games, laughed, and laughed some more as we de-stressed and regrouped. Below you can see part of our group walking down to our street to catch the train.
5- Stay hydrated. No matter where you are at this time of year, it’s likely to be warm (or hot)! Keep a calorie-free beverage at your side to sip on. We are fans of the Yeti cups and water bottles (we’re not paid by Yeti to say this, just fans) which have kept our iced drinks cold for over 12-hours in the summer heat! Another favorite trick is to freeze bottled water and use it as ice packs in the cooler, then drink it as it thaws.
In France, while the temperature was only 72, the sun was intense and felt more like 92. Hydration was important. We all brought our water bottles to sip on and stay hydrated in the heat.
We had such a great trip that we are all hoping to gather together again in another 2 years and maybe this time explore the Greek Islands!
As you prepare for 4th of July celebrations, we encourage you to consider:
- 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?
We’d love to hear from you on strategies that worked for you! Happy Independence Day!
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