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4th of July: Tips for Food and Fun!

By Amanda Turner MS, RD, CSSD | June 27, 2016

Summer is here, and the 4th of July is right around the corner! You can maximize your health while enjoying your BBQ's, pool parties, and picnics with these healthy tips!

1. Focus on hydration.
Drink lots of water or spice it up with sparkling, flavored waters like La Croix or Dasani Sparkling which are both sugar free and artificial sweetener free. Check out a few other ways you can stay hydrated:

• Adding cucumber, mint or berries to your water. A bit of flavor can entice you to drink more!
• Keep it cold. Make sure you have plenty of ice. There's nothing more refreshing than a cool beverage on a hot day.
• Incorporate fruits and veggies! Fruits like melon and berries are high in water content, and the nice sweetness is a delight for everyone! Leafy salad greens, grilled zucchini, grilled asparagus and salsas are great ways to incorporate more fluids from your veggies.

2. Lean down your meats.
Rather than going the hamburger and hot dog route which are typically high in fat and sodium, try leaner options like pork chops, boneless/skinless chicken breast, or sirloin.

• Chop your meats into cubes and put on skewers as a easy way to grill-n-go when the party begins. You can also incorporate your fruits and veggies onto the skewers which will help with point number one.
• If you're worried about the dryness of lean meats, marinade them prior with spices and a chicken or beef broth.

3. Choose your favorite sides.
Chips, pasta salad, potato salad, jello salad, and every other salad you can imagine will be available for the 4th. Enjoy your favorite items, but focus on moderation.

• Fill 1/4 to 1/3 of your plate with these items. I'd recommend starting with a smaller portion than you think you need, and go back for more if you're still hungry. Our eyes are typically bigger than our stomach! This will help you to practice mindfulness and satiety recognition.
• Put it on a plate. Grazing can lead to all day eating without ever sensing hunger or satiety. Enjoy your meal at meal time, and then enjoy your company and other activities the rest of the time.
• Plan for dessert. If the dessert item means more to you than the sides, there is no reason not to put it on your plate with your main meal! You'll feel satisfied (both for hunger and taste) by eating it with the meal.

4. Stay active.
While laying by the pool all day can feel very relaxing, I'd encourage you to go for a walk at the beginning of the day, or throw in some yard games between poolside naps.
• Many cities have Independence Day 5k's to start your morning.
• Try bags, croquet, giant jenga, horseshoes, Frisbee, or spikeball next to your BBQ pit. . . A safe distance away for the more active games.
• End your day with a nice walk post-fireworks.

5. The dish on alcoholic drinks. . .
Bottom line, alcohol must be moderated for you to maximize your health (and feel well) on the 4th. One 12oz beer, one 5oz glass of wine, or 1.5oz of liquor are standard alcohol servings. For women, no more than one per day is recommended, and men are allowed up to two per day. Alcohol can contribute to dehydration and eventual hunger from dropping blood sugar when it is overconsumed. So, enjoy your one or two drinks, and be smart with your alcohol consumption for the holidays!