Picnics and barbeques are a fun summer tradition. These events are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family. Picnics and barbeques also present challenges when it comes to healthy eating and drinking.
Here are some helpful tips to work your way around a picnic table:
- Avoid dips that are cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream based. Try other fresh dips like guacamole and homemade salsa or use plain greek yogurt as the base for your veggie dip. Sub out regular potato chips for baked chips or homemade tortilla chips (1).
- Instead of preparing the usual potato or pasta salad with mayo, try making a fresh green salad with fruit or a pasta salad full of fresh chopped vegetables with vinaigrette or Italian dressing. These types of salads are packed with nutrients and the ingredients don’t spoil as quickly in the hot sun.
- Tired of hamburgers and hot dogs? Beef burgers can easily be replaced with turkey, chicken or even veggie burgers. Tuna steaks are a great alternative to regular steaks and are full of healthy fats and proteins (2). Kebobs are great for grilling. You can make them with almost anything and the size helps you be mindful of portion sizes.
- Sodas and juices are always available at picnics. Both are tempting, but are loaded with sugar. If you are looking for an alternative to sugar and caffeine, try seltzer water mixed with 100% fruit juice for a light fizzy drink. You can even opt for fruit-infused ice water for a refreshing drink.
- If you do choose to drink at a picnic make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water for every standard drink. Alcohol and hot temperatures cause fluid loss and can lead to dehydration. It is also important to have a plan for how you will get home safely if you are drinking. Don’t drink and drive! Keep in mind that if you are boating and/or swimming alcohol affects your judgement, balance, reaction time and increases risk taking.
- Hydration seems to be key on a hot summer day! With plenty of activities going on at a picnic it can be easy to forget to drink water. The recommendations for how much water you should consume per day vary by sex and exercise level. You should drink more on especially hot days or if you are really active outside. Heat exhaustion is real, so be aware of your water intake.
As with everything, moderation is your best bet for a happy and healthy summer. Enjoy!
- EatingWell Magazine. (2012, May). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/248363/tortilla-chips/
- Health Benefits of Tuna and Salmon. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Protein/Article-Viewer/Article/89/Health-Benefits-of-Tuna-and-Salmon.aspx