We often go all out here in Canada for the final “unofficial” weekend of the summer. Thus, the Labor Day long weekend is often fraught with a full lineup of cocktails, barbecues, pot lucks, and campfires with s’mores. Rich drinks and eats may go hand in hand with fireworks and long weekend celebrations, but they can pose disastrous to all of your healthy eating goals.
Here’s how you can take part in the weekend festivities while avoiding all the Labor Day weekend dietary landmines…
Be Active as Much as Possible
Long weekends beckon us to sunbathe on the beach with a book or swing all day in a hammock with a bottomless pitcher of cocktails. But remember, you are in control of your own weekend…the key word being “control.” So take it and find every excuse to be active.
If you plan to enjoy a piece of granny’s peach pie at dinner, go for a run or a long hike on the beach in the afternoon, or swim and paddle board before your meal. Be sure to have a healthy snack to prepare yourself for the picnic, BBQ cookout, and pot luck dinners so you don’t arrive completely ravenous and eat everything in sight.
No, I don’t mean “suns out, bums out”…unless you’re into that. What I’m referring to is dropping the white hamburger, hot dog, and bread options from your meals whenever possible. Processed, refined carbohydrates (found in a lot of white bread products) can be a source of empty carbohydrates and weight gain.
So enjoy that burger, chicken breast, sausage, or portobello mushroom bun-less! You can also savor it on a bed of leafy greens, or to make it portable and wrap it in a big kale or romaine leaf…with all the healthy fixings you normally enjoy (i.e., fresh veggies, mustard, balsamic dressing, etc.).
Resist the Urge to Skip Meals
The ideology that “I can eat and drink whatever I want at tonight’s BBQ as long as I skip breakfast and lunch” is a tricky, and often dangerous promise. After all, this thinking doesn’t often balance out, especially if you’re hungry and not thinking with your head, but your ravenous appetite.
Starving yourself now to eat more later will only result in you eating way more than your day’s worth of calories. Why? Starving yourself will cause your blood sugar to drop, and you’ll be so hungry you’ll almost certainly overindulge.
Drink This, Not That…
If weight loss is a personal goal, you’ve no doubt come across articles with a theme of “eat this, not that” to help you satisfy hunger with healthier options. Well, you can also choose to imbibe simple, lighter beverage options this long weekend to avoid sugar- and caloric-soaring cocktails.
For instance, rather than mixing up a fruity concoction full of syrups and fake fruity liquors (i.e., mojitos, sangria, mimosas)—stick to simple, lower calorie sippers such as white wine spritzers or vodka (or gin) and soda with a splash of fresh lime.
Be the Host with the Most…Healthy Options
Remember way back to slide one (where I talked about staying in control of your weekend)? If you’re worried about aspects like healthy options at BBQs and potlucks, why not host your own?
This way you remain largely in control of what’s being served. Even if you offer a potluck theme where you invite guests to bring dishes of their own, you can make sure there are plenty of fresh, healthy options for you to nosh from. You can even whip up a low calorie, signature cocktail for guests. Think vanilla vodka and soda or a pitcher of gin and soda with fresh sliced lemons, limes, and cucumbers.
Pick Wisely at the Potluck
We always have a long weekend potluck at our cottage. It’s a family and community affair where everyone brings a signature dish and partakes in a little bit of everything. However, I’ve learned over the years that the phrase “pot luck” is a double edged sword if you’re trying to shed or maintain a healthy body.
For instance, it’s natural to take a scoop from every pot as you make your way down the line. However, this practice is a bit mindless, and suddenly you’ve piled 3 dinners onto your plate. Instead, scope out the offerings and pick and choose your pot luck pickings. If you’re worried about the availability of healthy dishes, bring a fruit or veggie and hummus platter so you’re sure to have at least one healthy option.