- Before you grab some tasty morsel, ask yourself if you really want it. Are you hungry? Is it worth the calories? Odds are, the tempting display of food in front of you is visually seductive – and may smell great, too — but you’re reaching out to eat what’s in front of you for reasons not dictated by your stomach but by your eyes.
- Do you really need to stand in front of the picnic table, kitchen table, or barbecue? The further away from the food you are the less likely you are to eat it. Don’t sit or stand where you can see the food that’s calling your name. Keep your back to it if you can’t keep distant. There’s just so much control you can exercise before “see it = eat it.”
- Don’t show up absolutely starving. How can you resist all the tempting food when your blood sugar is in the basement and your stomach is singing a chorus?
- If you know that the barbecued ribs, the blueberry pie, or your cousin’s potato salad is your downfall, acknowledge that you’re going to have it or steer clear. For most of us, swearing that you’ll only take a taste is a promise that is doomed to fail and you end up with second or third helpings heaped on your plate.
- If you’re asked to bring something to a party, picnic, or barbecue, bring food you can eat with abandon – fruit, salad with dressing on the side, maybe berries and angel food cake for dessert (there’s no fat in angel food cake and moderate calories). Bring something that’s a treat but not over the top. That way you know you’ll always have some “go to” food.
- Really eyeball the food choices so you know what’s available. Then make a calculated decision about what you‘re going to eat. Taking some of everything means that you’ll eat some of everything. Is that what you want to do?
- Take the food you’ve decided to eat, sit down, enjoy it without guilt, and be done with it. No going back for seconds.
- If you’re full, stop eating and clear your plate right away. If it hangs around in front of you, you’ll keep picking at it until there’s nothing left. An exception – a study has found that looking at the “carnage” – the leftover bones from barbecued ribs or even the number of empty beer bottles – serves as a visual reminder of how much you’ve already had to eat or drink.
- Give yourself permission to eat – and enjoy — the special dessert or a burger or ribs. If you don’t, you’ll probably be miserable. Then when you get home you end up gobbling down everything in sight because you made yourself miserable by not eating the stuff that you wanted in the first place! But no seconds and no first portions that are the equivalent of firsts, seconds and thirds built into one.
- If hanging around the food gets to be too much, go for a walk, a swim, or engage someone in an animated conversation. It’s pretty hard to shove food in your mouth when you’re busy talking.
10 Ways To Save Calories At Summer Parties, Picnics, And Barbecues
Subscribe and Connect
Penny Manegan Klatell, PhD, RN
Penny is a doctoral level nurse; a health, life, and wellness coach; and a Mom. She’s also a nutritional counselor, food lover, former college professor, author, blogger, speaker, and a very frequent restaurant visitor. She’s from a Greek restaurant family where she learned to cook and discovered the need to speak loudly to be heard above the din. She writes about delicious, healthy food and how to eat well anytime, anywhere, and at any age.