12 Tips to Rock Your Labor Day BBQ!!

If you live a Clean Eating lifestyle like I do (or even if you don't), the thought of a food-oriented social get-together can be terrifying! How am I going to possibly avoid the amazing variety of potato chips, sweet treats (they seriously call my name at EVERY event!), unhealthy fat-laden salads, and alcohol…oh, the margaritas and mojitos!

Over the past few weeks, I have been asked by many of my friends and family how to “survive” their Labor Day BBQs unscathed. While it’s OK to eat Not So Clean occasionally, I know I personally feel physically terrible after I indulge (insert bad memory of post-Superbowl apple cobbler indulgence here).

I know many of you feel the same way, and need a few ideas to help stay the Clean Eating course. These ideas can also be applied any time…no special event needed!

Here is my list of tips for you to try this weekend:

  1. Eat before the party – Eat delicious, clean meals full of protein and healthy fats leading up to your event. Protein and healthy fats (avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oils, fish) fill us up and help us feel satisfied for a longer period of time.

  2. Bring your own healthy options - It’s OK! You will not insult anyone by contributing to the snack/food table. This is the only way to ensure you will have some healthy options to choose from. Check out my Pinterest Page for LOADS of Clean Eating/No Added Sugar recipes.

  3. Drink plenty of water – This is a big one!! Drink it before you go, when you get there, in between alcoholic beverages, 15-20 minutes before eating the main meal, and when a craving hits. If you want to make your water more “special”, add lemon, lime, cucumber, or fruit. You can also drink mineral water (like Pellegrino or Perrier), or add fruit to seltzer water for an extra special treat. Avoid soda…use seltzer water to get your carbonation “fix” if needed.

  4. Be mindful of alcohol intake – for those of us who enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, it is easy to drink more than we intend to at social gatherings. Be mindful of what and how much you are drinking. Drink a glass of water (see #3) in-between beverages if you have more than one. Try to avoid drinks with extra added sugars- those with soda, fruit juices, syrups, or pre-made mixes in them. Choose a glass of wine or wine spritzer (less alcohol) instead! Also, be aware that alcohol can lower your resolve to avoid eating junk foods.

  5. Don’t sit or stand too close to the food or snack tables - being close makes all those Not So Clean foods even more tempting. Banish mindful munching by positioning yourself further away from the munchies!

  6. Take a tour first – Whether it’s the snack table, or the main meal, take a tour of everything available before filling your plate. This will help you plan which healthy options you are going to choose and will keep you from putting too much on your plate.

  7. Portion control – See #6 to begin. When eating, be mindful, eat slowly, and really chew your food! Eating slowly and thoroughly chewing your own food also aid in digestion. If you are tempted to refill your plate after finishing your initial meal, take a break. If you are still hungry after 10 minutes, THEN go back for seconds.

  8. Snack time! – Raw veggies, hummus, nuts, and fruit are all healthy snacks that will help fill you up and satisfy the urge to snack while socializing. Avoid the dips, sauces, and junk foods. I know it sounds simple…and really, it is. Just don’t eat them.

  9. The Main Event – When it’s time to eat the “Main Meal”, fill your plate with mostly veggies. Add some healthy protein and fats to help fill you up. Try to avoid the meats marinated with sweet stuff (aka: sugar), if possible. Also try to avoid overeating bad carbs (breads, white rice, flour tortillas, etc.).

  10. Dessert – this is where I personally struggle the most. Opt for fresh fruit instead of cakes, cookies, pies, or ice cream. This is also a HUGE opportunity to bring your own no added sugar dessert to the party. Check out this board for TONS of no sugar added recipes that satisfy any sweet tooth craving.

  11. HAVE FUN!!! Focus on the social event and interacting with friends and family, rather than the food. View it as a special time with your friends, rather than an “excuse” to completely fall off the Clean Eating wagon. And, most importantly…

  12. Ditch the all or nothing mindset - Balance and moderation are key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle long-term. If you ate mostly clean at the BBQ, but slipped and had a few chips or some sweets, get over it. Rather than beat yourself up, get back on the wagon, and move forward!! Have fun this weekend, everyone!! You got this!!

P.S.~ I would LOVE to hear which of these tips help you this weekend…be sure to comment below to share your stories, or to add any additional tips you’ve found helpful in the past!

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