Diet prep for the holiday weekend  Weight Upon the Lord

Diet prep for the holiday weekend Weight Upon the Lord

Support and encouragement for Christian men in their journey to maintain good health.

Diet prep for the holiday weekend

tags: bodyweight, Exercise, Food, grilling, holiday, planning

The Independence Day holiday doesn’t really seem like it could be a challenging one in terms of eating, at least not on the same scale as Thanksgiving or Christmas. I mean, everything’s grilled for the 4th, and grilling is a great way to cook lean, right?

Well, yes, but I defy you to try and eat only grilled foods this weekend. If your schedule is anything like ours, then you’ve got a parade on Friday morning, which is usually preceded by a big breakfast of homemade donuts and Orange Julius (somehow this became a July 4th tradition, and I’m not sure how). Then after the parade, we assemble at my in-laws for an appetizer of vegetable pizza (crescent rolls covered in cream cheese, sprinkled with veggies), follow by burgers or brats; yes, they’re grilled, but they’re also accompanied by buns, mayo, ketchup, Jello salad, and my mom-in-law’s amazing potato salad. For dessert, there’s either a cake in the shape of a flag, or possibly fruit pizza (what again with the pizza? This one’s got a sugar cookie crust, topped with sweetened cream cheese this time, then topped with fruit and melted jam).

As you can see from my example, it’s not the grilled foods that will derail your diet and your healthy food choices - it’s all of the OTHER stuff that will do it. The key to keeping on track for this or any other holiday is careful planning ahead of time, and today really isn’t too early to start. Here are some tips that I’ve come up with for making sure don’t stray too far from your plan:

Look at your calendar now, and list out all of the possible engagements and parties that will occur over the holiday that have the potential for derailing you. For each one, you’ll want a separate plan; you don’t need to be super-specific, but if you’re too general (I just won’t eat at all before the fireworks), you’re liable to let your guard down and trip up.

For each event, list the general items that will probably be served. For an Independence Day party, it’s usually fairly straightforward picnic food - hot dogs, burgers, brats, chips, potato salad, etc. Look through the list and find ways to trim out unnecessary calories. For instance, if you think there will be burgers served, then ask for yours without cheese, and eat it wrapped in a big lettuce leaf instead of on a bun, slathered with mayo.

If you’re going over to a friend or relative’s house, offer to bring some type of dish that you can be sure you can eat. You might offer to bring a green salad or a veggie tray, or maybe put together some veggie kabobs that can be grilled along with the burgers or brats. And don’t feel too bad if you don’t eat much at their party - most hosts won’t be paying close attention to the amount of food each individual guest is consuming. They are usually more concerned that they have enough food in general, so they probably won’t be focused on what you are or aren’t eating.

If you’re hosting the event, that’s great, as it gives you much more freedom to prepare food that’s healthy both for you and your guests. Make sure that you have a variety of items that you can eat - grilled chicken, for instance, a big green salad with a lot of fresh veggies and a choice of dressings, and tons of fresh fruit. Yes, it’s okay to serve the chips and dip or salsa to your guests, but only if you have provided yourself with lower-calorie alternatives. And who knows, there may be other guests who are going through the same thing as you, and will be appreciate of those alternatives.

BEWARE OF GRAZING! This is one of the biggest pitfalls to picnics and barbecues, and one of the toughest to avoid. Generally if you attend a dinner party, the food is either plated in advance, or everyone sits down at once and the dish is passed. Not so with barbeques and picnics - the food is normally laid out buffet-style, and it sits there for a long time, begging you to come through a second, third, or even fourth time. My advice? Fill up your plate ONCE, eat your food as slowly as you can, then throw away the plate when you’re done. If the meal isn’t being served on paper plates, then physically take your plate to the kitchen, rinse it off and leave it by the sink as soon as you’re done. This may seem crazy, but I’m telling you, if you sit there engaged in conversation with an empty plate in front of you, you’ll end up standing up and walking through the buffet line again. Trust me, I know from whence I speak!

Always have a drink in your hand - and no, I don’t mean the alcoholic variety. Keep a large glass of ice water with you all the time, or maybe alternate it with unsweetened iced tea. If it’s hot out, our bodies sometimes mistake hunger for what is actually dehydration. If you’ve always got water with you, you’ll also be less tempted to reach for something else.

Don’t forgo your exercise for the day - it’s easy on a holiday to take a holiday from your regular workout routine, too. If at all possible, try to avoid that temptation - yes, you can certainly sleep in, but make a point to still get up and start your day with some type of exercise. If you’re travelling and don’t have access to a gym, then do your cardio workout instead of your weight training - do a quick run or a brisk walk, or maybe a bodyweight exercise.

If you are going to take a cheat day, then still make it a planned cheat day. For instance, plan ahead at the beginning of the day that at breakfast, you’re going to have ONE homemade donut but no Orange Julius or vice versa, and that the only other thing you’re going to eat before the picnic is fruit or veggies. If you’re mother-in-law makes an amazing potato salad (and mine does), then tell yourself that you’ll take a scoop the size of a tennis ball but no more. You might even want to right it down, or share your plans with someone else at the party - it’s often easier to stay on plan if you’ve given someone permission to hold you accountable.

So these are some of my tips - what are some of yours?

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