- By Jessica DeGore
- In Uncategorized
- July 1, 2020
How to Have a Healthier 4th of July
By: Lyndi Wieand, RDN, LDN
Independence Day is a celebration of our nation’s freedom and is often seen as the biggest and most lucrative party of the summer. Family and friends gather to watch fireworks, create memories and eat their favorite summertime meals. According to Wallethub.com, 61% of Americans will attend a picnic, and $6.8 Billion will be spent on food, drinks and supplies for 4th of July parties, and over $1 Billion will be spend on over 16,000 fireworks displays across the country.
Most Americans use holidays as an excuse to indulge on many types of less healthy foods, but then feel guilty about it later. An interview with a dietitian with Forbes.com shared that Americans eat an average of 3,500-4,400 calories during the 4th of July holiday.2 Although just one day of eating like this won’t contribute to much weight gain, it is important to be mindful of our choices and savor our favorite foods in moderate amounts. Whether you are hosting or attending a party, here are some tips that you can implement that will allow you to feel more self-confident in your choices, and still enjoy the festivities.
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast: Many people skip meals the day of a major holiday so that they can have a larger appetite for the celebratory meal. This often leads to overeating and unbalanced blood sugar throughout the day. Instead, try having breakfast that includes whole grains, lean protein, fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and healthy fats to keep your appetite in check and stabilize your blood sugar.
- Go lighter on the side dishes: Many common summer party foods may be higher in calories, saturated fat, sodium and simple carbs. Try serving your grilled meat with roasted vegetables, a salad with mixed greens, cold grain salad or fresh fruit. These options will be lower in calories and nourish your body with fiber, vitamins and minerals, providing you with more energy to power through the day until the fireworks show!
- Stay hydrated: 4th of July tends to be hot in PA, so staying hydrated is very important to overcompensate for any sweating you may be doing. Make sure to drink mostly water during the day, especially if you are consuming any alcoholic beverages. If plain water isn’t for you, try a flavored seltzer, fruit infused water or unsweetened iced tea. Drinking water before a meal also helps you to eat less, as much of your stomach is already filled with liquid.
- Switch up your desserts: Desserts can be a great “treat” to end a party with, but they are often limited in beneficial nutrients. If you are following a healthier eating pattern, don’t feel like you need to restrict yourself from having your favorite treat such as brownies or cookies, all foods fit. If you are hosting, try offering grilled fresh fruit such as peaches or pineapple, or making fresh fruit kabobs with seasonal produce in addition to traditional desserts. Another option could be patriotic red, white and blue yogurt parfaits with strawberries, blueberries and vanilla Greek yogurt.
- Bring your own food or eat beforehand: If you will be attending a party that you know will not be offering foods that meet your diet needs or eating goals, bring along a dish that will meet your needs, or eat a snack or two prior to arriving. This reduces the temptation to overeat and/or indulge on less healthy items.
- Survey the buffet: Before loading up your plate, survey what is available to eat at your party and see which foods will fit within your goals. By looking first, you are able to better control your portions, which may still leave you some room for that sweet treat. When choosing your options, try to fill half of your plate with fruits and/or vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with whole grains or a starchy vegetable.
Celebrating holidays does not have to be stressful if you are trying to live a healthier life. If you treat them as just a normal day, you may be able to stay closer to your goals without feeling guilty for “over doing it.” Find a local dietitian in your area to help you stay on track around the holidays and help you live a healthier life.
Lyndi Wieand, RDN, LDN is the Lehigh Valley area In-Store Dietitian at Weis Markets, a family-owned and -operated supermarket chain with 200 stores in the mid-Atlantic region. She serves as the President-Elect for the Lehigh Valley Dietetics Association and is a Certified Group Lifestyle Balance Coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Connect with her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndiwieand/ or follow her on Instagram @lyndi_wieand.rdn.