9 ways to eat healthy this 4th of July

4th of July and healthy eating tipsI look forward to 4th of July every year – partly for the amazing fireworks, but also for the tasty picnic food. However, backyard barbecues held on the 4th of July tend to be less than healthy.

I made a commitment to healthier, more balanced eating at the beginning of this year. So, I am a little worried about the 4th of July spread of yummy potluck and picnic foods.

Here are 9 ways to eat healthy this 4th of July without giving up the fun, festivities and good food:

Eat healthy foods first
Starting with healthy food choices first will help fill you up so that you are less likely to pig out on the bad stuff. Salads, fruits and vegetables are a great way to begin. You can also add some protein to help you feel full sooner.

Put color on your plate
The MyPlate healthy eating guidelines recommend that you fill your plate at least half full with fruits and vegetables. You can grill skewers that include veggies, such as peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and more. Corn on the cob also tastes great off the grill. It’s easy to throw together a fruit salad with watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, sliced apples, kiwi, etc.

Choose whole wheat
When you load up on white bread, your insulin levels spike and your body goes into fat storage mode. Eating whole-wheat breads and grains can help keep fat storage at bay and allow your body to maintain a steady insulin level.

Grill healthy
We recently wrote about healthy grilling tips. While you need to be aware of the toxins that can be produced from grilling, you can take advantage of the benefits of grilling. Choose lean meats to grill or remove excess fat before cooking. You can grill as many fruits and vegetables as you want because they don’t produce harmful substances.

Use small plates
By using a smaller plate, you may find that you eat less than you normally would. You may eat more slowly and even if you go back to fill your plate a few times, you will still end up eating less.

Go easy on dessert
Sugar and refined carbs are some of the worst things to eat. You don’t have to skip the dessert, just take smaller portions. Sample little bits of several different desserts. You will get your dessert fix without feeling like you’ve blown your healthy eating habits.

Drink water
Since it’s normally hot on 4th of July, be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Drinking water will also help you feel fuller and less tempted to graze and overeat. In addition, water is a better option than soda, punch or sugary drinks. Keep in mind that the calories in alcohol can also add up quickly. Pace yourself throughout the day and be sure to drink water as well.

Don’t skip meals
You may be tempted to skip a meal so that you can eat more during the 4th of July festivities. However, this strategy may backfire on you. You are more likely to overeat and make poor food choices. By eating regular meals, your metabolism will burn energy at a steady rate throughout the day.

Stay active
Take advantage of the great outdoors and the summer weather to get in some exercise. You can fit in a game of basketball, volleyball, badminton, softball or even swimming, depending on your location. You can also play horseshoes, bean bag toss or other backyard games. Or just go for a walk – whatever it takes to get you moving and away from the food tables!

Do you have a favorite healthy 4th of July dish? Or do you have tips for sticking to your healthy eating habits during backyard cookouts? We would love to hear from you!

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