Independence Day – a holiday that means different things to different people. To some, it is the day the United States declared its separation, or independence from Great Britain. To others, it is a day off during the busy workweek. Some people might also hear Independence Day and think of the movie with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, as they both did a wonderful performance in that movie. However you think of Independence Day, it will likely be marked in your area with parades, fireworks, picnics, and any weight struggling person’s eating nightmare… BBQs. Sure, in order to avoid any eating mishaps a good BBQ could cause, one could just stay away, but striving to be healthier should not mean becoming antisocial. For those willing to brave the “food horrors” at a BBQ buffet near you, here are some helpful tips for this long holiday weekend: 

  • Whatever you do, don’t arrive hungry. Be sure to eat prior to attending any BBQ. If you do not intend on eating any food at the BBQ, be sure to eat dinner prior to arriving. If you wait until after the BBQ you might get hungry, eat food there, and still eat some later. On Saturday my sister-in-law is having a BBQ but my husband and I already had dinner plans. We are going to go to dinner as planned and then stop by my sister-in-laws for a few hours with the family. I am going to take my dessert with me so if I get hungry or tempted, I can eat my dessert, which I’ve already planned in my calorie counter. I’ll also take a Tootsie Pop and plenty gum as backup. 
  • If you do not want to eat much, show up an hour or more after the food is ready. If you arrive once the food is served, everyone will have a plate and you might find yourself eating just so you have a plate too. Arriving after everyone has already eaten will put the focus on conversations, games, fireworks, etc., and not on food or eating.
  • Keep drinking to a minimum. It is true what they say about alcohol taking away inhibitions. The more you drink, the more you are likely to forget about counting calories, your waistline, being healthier or anything “good for you.” In my case, the more I drink, the hungrier I get, and the more I eat. I am one of those people who must eat in order to not get sick from the alcohol. I intend to have one drink at dinner and only water at the BBQ.
  • Eat only what you want. Sure, it might look weird to have a plate with a hotdog and 2 chicken wings on it with no macaroni and cheese, or coleslaw or other vegetable, but if that’s what you want, eat only that. There is no sense in consuming 200 or more calories for the sake of appearance. The appearance of a smaller, healthier you is all that matters.
  • Go with a plan. I always ask my host what they are preparing. I decide what I might want to eat and sometimes, if there is nothing there I want to eat, I’ll bring my own food. If I plan to eat there, I try to plan how many hours I might be at the event and how to space out my eating. I don’t go by the clock or anything but, it helps to have a plan or something to stick to, as opposed to going in blind and accidentally eating more calories than needed. You must have a plan to fight each battle.

Other tips include staying out of the room with the food, carrying your own healthy snacks, and try tapping into your will power. Keep in mind it’s only a few hours of socializing with food present, as opposed to the weeks or months that extra pound or two from a weekend of BBQs might stay on your waist or as in my case, the hips. Trust me, you can do it; and once you do, you’ll be so proud of yourself for asserting your own Independence from food and overeating!