Nutrition Tip of the Week: Don’t Blow it on the Holiday Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is here, and many of us see that as four consecutive days of throwing caution to the wind and enjoying all of the food, drink, and fun. Reality sets in on Tuesday morning when we wake up grumpy, dehydrated, inflamed, and likely a few pounds up on the scale.

Nutrition Tip of the Week (May 28, 2021)

By: Coach Gillian Ward

How not to blow it at the big holiday weekend blowout

Memorial Day weekend is here, and many of us see that as four consecutive days of throwing caution to the wind and enjoying all of the food, drink, and fun. Reality sets in on Tuesday morning when we wake up grumpy, dehydrated, inflamed, and likely a few pounds up on the scale. Here’s how to have fun without setting yourself back….

  1. Write down the events and festivities you are attending/hosting on the calendar that involve copious amounts of food and drink. That list is the sum of the “challenges” you will have. Now, add up all of the meals you will eat throughout the holiday weekend that are NOT on the “challenges” list. That list is the sum of the “opportunities” you will have to nail your nutrition plan. Perhaps even be extra cautious and budget for the festivities by cutting back slightly on those opportunity meals. Skipping meals completely may backfire and cause you to overeat at one of those challenging times.
  2. If you are hosting, plan the menu to include some options that are conducive to your plan. It’s likely that others will be grateful to see veggie trays, fresh-cut fruit, low-fat summer salads, and lean, minimally processed meat choices.
  3. Also, for the host, consider putting the high calorie/high sugar condiments on the side. For instance, offer simple chicken or beef kebabs prepared on the grill with various dipping sauces on the side rather than using sodium- and sugar-laden sauces and marinades. Allow the guests to dress their own salads (this will also increase the duration of freshness and safety of the food).
  4. Beware of tons of hidden calories in popular summer side dishes like potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw. There are about 20 calories in a cup of raw cabbage but a whopping 300 calories in an average cup of prepared coleslaw!
  5. Don’t show up to your event famished. Have a small, balanced, hunger curbing snack before you leave the house. Some ideas that come to mind are:
    • A small handful of nuts and a piece of fruit
    • A small bowl of cottage cheese or yogurt with some slivered nuts and berries
  6. Have a plan before the party starts. Ask yourself what do I want/need to eat and what can I forgo? Set some rules for yourself and share them with someone that will hold you accountable. If you have to, write a note in your phone with your rules for the day. In addition to main meals, this could include alcohol limits, dessert limits, and so on.
  7. Drink a lot of water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, and many BBQ favorites like chips, dips, cheese, hot dogs, and brats contain tons of sodium. In addition to preventing dehydration, drinking enough water can prevent fluid retention. If you plan to drink alcohol, consume two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. Basically, use water to hydrate, not beer.
  8. Eat your meat naked! No, keep your clothes while you are eating…but consider skipping the buns on all but one piece of meat. If you grab a second burger, skip the bun and pile it with veggies like lettuce, tomato, and onion slices.
  9. If you are a guest, bring a side dish that fits your plan. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, here are a couple of places to start:
  10. Plan for the post-weekend when it’s time to get back on track. Have some of your nutritious go-to staples in the house so that you are not hitting the fast-food drive-through on Tuesday morning. Before I leave for a big holiday weekend, I make sure the house is stocked with my breakfast foods and some ingredients for easy-to-make meals when I return. For me, this generally includes eggs, liquid egg whites, chicken and lean ground beef in the freezer, frozen veggies, oats, and rice. If I’m really planning ahead, I will cook dinner for my first night back home and freeze it before I leave for the weekend.

Coach Gillian Ward is Barbell Logic’s Director of Nutrition. She has spent a lifetime as a high-performing athlete, coach, and fitness and nutrition educator. If you have a question for Coach Gillian that you’d like to see answered in future issues of the Friday Five Newsletter, please fill out the form below.

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