5 Fourth of July Picnic Healthy Eating Traps

We the people live for the daylong picnic and grilling events. We shall celebrate whence they last far, far too long into the night and someone from the neighborhood singes off an eyebrow. But with each luxuriously deep margarita glass and endless bowls of 7-layer dip, we continuously ignore our sense of fullness and dietary balance. Don’t you want to avoid the Fourth of July picnic trap?

image source :Martha Stewart

5 Picnic Healthy Eating Pitfalls

1. Beverages: Daylong events that last well into the night involve specialty beverages: beer, mixed cocktails, margaritas, soda and juices. Where’s the water? Social drinking has us opting for too many empty liquid calories. It seems like we always have to have a drink in hand. Pause in the conversation? Time to drink. Instead, choose water and make a choice as to when you are deciding to have a specialty drink. 

 2. Novelty: My in-laws used to throw a large 4th of July party that utilized their Slushee maker….and they added alcohol. Said Slushee machine stole the heart of every partygoer and bestowed hundreds of empty calories. Because it was such a ‘cool’ and unusual party accessory, everyone wanted to try it. The same thing goes for the cupcakes, dips, and cake pops, all decorated in red white and blue. “It’s decorated like a tiny flag! You have to try one!”. Ask yourself: Would you really eat this food it if it wasn’t for the novelty?

 3. Grazing: There’s no specific ‘Lunch’ or ‘Dinner’ time at a cook out. Hostesses are compelled to make sure their guests have food every minute of the event. Because there is constant eating, you can lose track of what you’ve had. Put everything on a plate and engage in eating, not drive by munching. Make an effort to sit and eat.

4. The Bun: If it’s refined white bread that sandwiches your burger or hot dog, it’s likely low in fiber and higher in calories. Have whole wheat and pay attention to the actual bun size. Some are two or even three servings. Go bun-less or split one with a friend.

5. The ‘Salads’: Ham salad, potato salad, egg salad, pasta salad, jello salad….most varieties have one thing in common and it’s not lettuce. Mayonnaise is likely the base of each salad, which means it’s high in saturated fat. Luckily, there are healthy mayo alternatives like Greek yogurt if you’re the one making the salad. But if you’re not cooking, remember the name ‘salad’ isn’t a free pass to all you can eat. Portion control is key. Or, add in veggies from another platter to bulk up your salad.

 What are your plans for tomorrow?

-Carlene RD

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.