Eating Healthfully at Summer Picnics and Barbecues!


When I was homeschooling seven kids for thirty-two years, I would often tell my kids, “Every day can’t be special.” Oh, I loved making things special for my kids—but I also wanted them to love (and maybe even crave) “normal.” Just be able to do the stuff day in and day out. Do those things that made them successful students and kids. And so it is with eating more healthfully and eating for weight management. Every day can’t be special. And one of the worst sabotages in weight management is assigning “special” to every day—and indulging way too much in foods and/or amounts that will not help us meet our health and weight goals.


Going skating with the kids tonight? I don’t have a choice—looks like I’ll eat fast food with the rest of them before the skate.


Birthday party this week? Birthday parties ARE special occasions. Of course, I should be able to have cake and ice cream.


Carry in at church Sunday? It’s not my fault nobody cooks healthfully in church. What am I supposed to do—just watch others eat?


Date night…and we haven’t had one in weeks. Surely, I am not expected to forgo my favorite things on an infrequent date night!


A friend and I are taking the kids to the pool tomorrow. It’s going to be too hot to keep perishables fresh. Looks like I’ll just snack on chips with the kids.


The problem is—each of those things might just fall in the same week! EVERY DAY can’t be special. Every day can’t be fast food or birthday cake or potluck cheesy potatoes or bread basket at your favorite date spot or chips at the pool.


Most people trying to maintain or lose weight will not be able to achieve either one with that many “specials”!


Weight management aside….do all of those exceptions really lead you to the health that you want to achieve? Greasy food, sugary cake, excessive potatoes, white bread, and chips all in the same week will not help us get healthy.


So what do we do with all of the “special days.” We reduce them. We admit to ourselves that every day doesn’t have to be a treat day. We learn to delight in the normal, the healthier, the goal-achieving foods. We tell ourselves what I told my kids for three decades when it came to skipping something important in our homeschooling day: “every day can’t be special.”


So what does this have to do with summer bbq’s—a lot! Because every summer bbq can’t be special!


Here are some tips that have helped eat healthfully so far this summer:


1) Make some healthy options for yourself at least. Even if others are bringing junk foods, be sure you have some healthier options.


2) Drink lots of cold water. And decide ahead of time that you won’t drink pop or sugared drinks (or diet drinks unless they are sweetened with healthy sweeteners).


3) Draw your line in the sand food-wise. Don’t let food control you. You control it. If you want it to be a free or treat meal (don’t call it a cheat meal), make that call ahead of time and decide what is worth it to eat that is not on your normal protocol. Just because you’re having a free meal doesn’t mean that you have to eat all junk. Choose wisely. Many things are simply not worth the sugar, calories, carbs, or ingredients.


4) Do you really need a free DAY? A free day often turns into free dayS. Free days often turn in to a free weekend. And yes, free weekends easily become a free week. Use this benchmark: I start over with healthy eating my next meal (or in three hours).


5) Consider what too much “freedom” will do to you. Not in weight. You’d have to eat 3500 to truly gain a pound today. What will it do to your cravings? If going off a healthy eating plan will cause you to not be able to stop cravings, it’s not worth it. Also consider how it will make you feel. If you’ve been eating better 90% of the time and feeling great, eating too much junk can really ruin a day!


6) Fill your plate with the good stuff and just leave a small spot for a treat. Don’t take an all of nothing approach! That approach leads to eating all unhealthy foods because “it doesn’t matter anyway”! It does matter! It’s your health, energy, cravings, weight, and mood that all matter!



Blessings to you as you seek to “feel great and live well”!



P.S. What are your best “staying on plan” strategies? I would love to hear more ideas!

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