Summer is officially in full swing, and that means most get-togethers and plans have moved outside for the next several months. There is nothing like enjoying time in nature with friends and family with some good food! However, for a lot of people, the idea of attending many social interactions that are centered around food can be daunting for a variety of reasons. For example, if you are afraid of overeating and that you will feel out of control around the food, or if you have an intolerance or an allergy, I’m here to say that there is nothing to fear. If you employ a few strategies and skills, you can stop wasting your time worrying, and spend more time doing things that you enjoy.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of summer BBQs and get-togethers.

  1. Just eat the hot dog. It may seem overwhelming to be surrounded by a buffet of BBQ. but if you don’t eat what you want to, you will be left unsatisfied, which typically leads to overeating later. Have you been there? By denying what you are craving, you will probably find yourself picking and picking at the rest of the offerings instead of just enjoying one satisfying meal.

  1. Think about what you can add. While I am always a proponent of following your cravings, I also encourage clients to take a look at their plates and think about what they can add to balance it out. If you get a hot dog and some potato salad, remember to grab veggies or a salad too. When your plate is balanced with all four components of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber, you will stay satiated and fuller for longer.

  1. Check in with yourself often. Take stock of your feelings of hunger and fullness before, during, and after your meal. Pause and reflect on how you are feeling physically and mentally, and determine if you are satisfied, or still hungry. This can help ground yourself in your bodily sensations vs. being overwhelmed by the visual abundance of food around you.

  1. Come prepared. If you have any dietary restrictions, you may be worried about being the odd one out, or that there will be nothing you are able to eat. Combat this by bringing a dish that you can safely eat that everyone else can also enjoy.

  2. Think less about the food, and more about the other benefits. Social interaction through gatherings such as BBQs are a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety. Spending time in the sun, feeling a cool breeze, and being surrounded by nature boosts your mood. Additionally, cookouts are not only nourishing for the soul, they have real health benefits too. A University of Oxford study found that those who eat socially tend to feel happier and more satisfied with life, too.*

My last tip is to try to always look at things with perspective. Think about how you want to spend your time over these next few precious months. No one ever looks back and says that they wish they spent more time worrying vs. spending the time connecting with family and friends.