10 Tips to Have Fun and be Healthy on the Fourth of July

40616987 - variety of desserts on the table for july 4th party.

40616987 – variety of desserts on the table for july 4th party.

The Fourth of July should be a fun, relaxing holiday. But for someone who is trying to develop healthier habits, it can be a field full of landmines ready to blow up the best of intentions.

Don’t let a holiday upset your healthful intentions. Think ahead, take some extra steps to prepare and enjoy the festivities. Here are ten steps to get you started:

  1. Bring the healthy.  You know you’re going to want to snack. Even if you can resist the chips and dips, it’s just not fun to watch everyone else eating when you’re not. So pick up something better on your way. Grab a plate of veggies or fruit to put out with the nachos. Chances are at least a few others will be glad you did.
  2. Use portion control to your advantage. Carrots and celery are great, but sometimes they  don’t satisfy the urge to snack and those chips look tasty. Maybe just one? But that leads to another and another. Instead, put a full serving on your plate. It’s usually 8 to 12 chips, depending on the type, and a tablespoon or two of dip. It’s best to know how much you’re eating even when you’re indulging
  3. Reach for the water first. Before you head to the buffet line, drink a glass of water. It will help you stay hydrated and fill you up a bit so you will be less tempted to take more food than you want. Grab a glass of water in between courses to slow down you’re eating. This will give you a chance to figure out if you’re full before grabbing seconds.
  4. Shop the buffet line. Picnics and barbecues can bring an abundance of options. If you’re trying to keep any eye on what you eat, look around and pick the things that are most appealing rather than just loading up your plate.
  5. Cut back where you can. Use a little less butter on your corn or have just half a bun with your hamburger. Those small changes may not seem like much, but they will add up.
  6. Stay in balance. The two sides to being healthy are exercise and eating. If you expect to eat a little extra, build in some extra exercise. Just be sure to match the increased activity to the amount of extra food.
  7. See the big picture. Think of the holiday as one of several days and plan your exercise accordingly. If you know you won’t be able to get out much on one day, plan to get out more on another. Think in terms of three or four-day chunks.
  8. Get creative. Maybe you won’t be able to get out for your regular run, but how about a family bike ride? Suggest a walk after dinner. Or even park a little further away. Those few extra steps can make a difference.
  9. Take some time for you. The weekend schedule can get full with a lot of great activities pretty quickly. But try to find some time to take care of yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes. You will be able to handle things better and feel less stressed, which will help you make better decisions about eating and exercising.
  10. Give yourself a break. It’s good to strive for being healthy, but part of that is being happy. Putting yourself on a guilt trip or restricting yourself so much that you’re miserable won’t help you reach your goals. Don’t stress too much if you don’t meet your expectations. Give yourself credit for what went well and try to figure out what could make a difference for next time.
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