Tips for a Healthy July 4th Celebration
The Fourth of July is, for many folks, the official kick-off of summer. It’s a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence with fun, fireworks and, of course, food!
We’ve got a great checklist for a healthy Fourth of July celebration right here in San Diego. Follow these tips for a healthy, safe time for the whole family!
- Swap flavored seltzer water for sodas – Limit your sugary beverages by drinking flavored seltzer water instead of soda. Buy your favorite flavored bubbly water, or simply buy it plain and add a burst of flavor at home with a twist of fresh lemon, lime, oranges or muddled berries. Mint leaves will make your drink extra refreshing too!
- Keep foods at proper temperatures – Avoid the spread of bacteria by keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Do not leave perishable foods out of their temperature-controlled environments for more than 30 minutes, or 15 minutes on a very hot day. This includes all cooked meats, cheeses, mayonnaise, and creamy dips, salads and dressings.
- Plan some fun physical activities – Games and activities are great ways to bond with each other and stay fit! Have a water balloon fight, toss a frisbee, splash in the pool, or play a round of croquet or badminton. If you’re planning to see fireworks later on, walk or ride your bike instead of driving, if possible.
- Leave the fireworks to the professionals – Emergency rooms across the nation see an uptick in visitors on July 4, and it’s not hard to guess why. It may be tempting to set off some of your own fireworks, but even the “small” ones can be extremely dangerous if you’re not a pro. Don’t take any chances.
- Grill lean protein and veggies – Limit fatty meats, and instead choose to grill lean proteins like chicken, fish, veggie burgers and 90% lean beef patties. Load up the grill with lots of veggies, too: bell peppers, asparagus, portobellos, onions, squash and corn on the cob are fabulous options. They only need a little salt, pepper and olive oil to bring out their incredible flavor!
- Keep the grains whole – Whole grains are bursting with delicious fiber and nutrients. Use whole wheat or sprouted-grain buns instead of white. Make a whole wheat pasta salad with olive oil instead of mayonnaise. Or, try a cold barley, quinoa or brown rice salad. Just stir in some minced veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers and olives, then top with feta or parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. You won’t even miss that heavy potato salad!
- Offer lots of healthy dips and snacks – Instead of potato or tortilla chips and creamy dips, slice up a big plate of veggies and whip up your own healthy homemade dips! Some tasty, simple ideas are black bean dip, hummus, guacamole, salsa and spinach dip using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Yum!
- Bring something healthy to add to the spread – Unless you’re going to be hosting the celebration, you won’t have control over the food being served. If you’re a guest, bring one or two favorite healthy side dishes or proteins to grill. This way you’ll be sure to have a couple healthy options, no matter what.
- Enjoy treats on a small plate – Fill up a small appetizer-sized plate with a treat of your choice. This way you won’t feel deprived, but you won’t go overboard with those empty calories. Having a clear picture of what you’re eating, and how much, will help you stay mindful.
- Have a light meal or snack beforehand – It can be tempting to not eat before your BBQ to “save” your calories for indulging. But this can lead to excessive hunger and overeating later on. Be sure to eat at least a light meal or healthy snack about an hour before you plan to start celebrating. This way you can keep your hunger in check, and you won’t go nuts when you see that bag of chips!