I love a good BBQ as the evening begins to set in and the air cools down slightly. With additional time outdoors and less mess in the kitchen, it’s a fun and relaxing way to eat and socialize. You can fire up the grill for an easy weeknight family dinner as well as for a larger gathering. This way of preparing is great for summer and all year as well .
If I am preparing for a crowd, I make sure to have veggies, salads and healthy starches to balance out the heavy foods that we indulge in. INDULGE. That’s what I want to discuss. Many people end up feeling as if they indulged too much after a BBQ. Whether it's the relaxed state, the endless stream of food being served or the overall summer vibe, in this type of environment many people tend to overeat, and I can be one of those people.
So where do we go from here? I don’t want to take the fun out of summer! The guilt and negative feelings can attack from both directions. Both watching what you eat and overeating can lead to misery. If you are so focused on the food that you’re eating you may miss out on the experience around you. You may end up talking too much about the food you're eating (or not eating) and that can be boring and frustrating for those around you. Trust me on this, I have experience ;). There are many situations where one must be very careful such as allergies, autoimmune diseases and sensitivities, but these issues do not need to define your experience. On the other hand, if you eat more than you're accustomed to, or foods that don’t agree with you, there may be some adverse effects. Aside from the multitude of physical reactions, such as digestive issues, headaches, brain fog, or even skin irritation, there may be an emotional component as well. Feelings of stress, guilt and shame may begin to creep in, as one may feel disappointed with themselves for their food choices. These emotions are generally part of a larger emotional eating cycle which many people struggle with. I have been thinking a lot about this and came up with a plan to help myself and those who want to feel better. Here are some ideas that I’ve been working on and plan on implementing into my life.
1. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Entertaining and hosting, although fun, can certainly be a source of stress for many people. Often times, we are so caught up in the preparations and the expectations we've placed upon ourselves that we forget to have fun. We invited these guests for a good reason, not as a punishment to ourselves. Try to remind yourself of this idea while you are preparing and hosting. While a hectic moment is sure to present itself, don't let that influence your attitude for the evening . A good way to achieve this is to acknowledge the thought, even sit with it for a minute and then try to breathe your way through it. It is likely that with all your fast paced work you may not have been taking your usual full breaths. Gift yourself with slowing down and being more mindful of your breathing.
2. CHOOSE YOUR FOOD
Make sure to fill up on the good stuff. If you’re a guest and not sure of what will be there, offer to bring something that you know will be a healthy and delicious addition. Enjoy the foods and food combinations that agree with you, and eat freely within those guidelines. For example, do you feel better when you eat lower carb, less grains or do you need some carbs to keep you going strong? We all have different nutritional needs to keep thriving optimally, so keep this in mind. And, If you are the host, you’re free to make and serve the foods that minimize the “threat” of eating out of your comfort zone. Take the opportunity to create a menu including food that you don’t ordinarily prepare for yourself. You know your family's likes and dislikes and generally cater toward that. Entertaining is an opportunity to get creative with recipes and food presentation. You may end the evening feeling stuffed, but it will likely have minimal lasting effects.
3. PREPARE IN ADVANCE
Your guests are coming with an appetite and can't wait to dig in. You can grill up the items that cook quickly at the last minute and then go and enjoy your company. Scrambling to get ready at the last minute can be stressful. We want to keep stress at a minimum and fun at the max. To achieve this, prepare the side dishes earlier in the day or even the day before. You can chop veggies for salad and grilling in advance and have them ready to go when you need them . Think about making coleslaw or another marinated salad. These taste better the longer they sit, so they are great for entertaining. If you get as much out of the way as possible, you won't be as busy while setting up and preparing for your guests. If this was a last minute idea or you weren't able to prepare in advance, try to keep it simple. Choose hearty vegetables for grilling or toss a basic salad. If you’re looking for a starchy side dish, choose rice. Rice has become a BBQ staple in my house because my family loves it and there is minimal prep and cleanup. I use either organic basmati, jasmine or arborio rice and vary my preparation methods based on what else is going on in the kitchen. Although whole grain may be a healthier option, my kids would not be happy with that. Real life nutrition is all about balance
4. SET UP BEFORE THE GUEST ARRIVE
About an hour before your guests arrive, place all your sauces, dips and condiments on a caddy or tray and get it ready to bring it to the table. It will look cute bundled all together and will prevent the mad dash to the refrigerator to get things on the table at the last minute. If you are eating inside , you can also set the table well in advance. I love the magical feeling of a summer breeze while eating outdoors and try to do as much set up as possible in advance.
5. BE REALISTIC AND HAVE FUN
If you start out with a positive and realistic attitude, the likelihood of success is greater. The power of self knowledge and acceptance is the key to empowering the situation. With this in mind, none of the tips above are gospel . It’s okay to indulge sometimes. It’s also ok to be scrambling at the last minute. Allow yourself to be. Gift yourself the ability to enjoy. It’s wonderful to have good food with good company. If you’re aware of this at the start, you’ll be more mindful of what you’re eating, how you're feeling and you’ll certainly enjoy the overall experience more.
Try implementing these are your next gathering and let me know what worked for you!