Sunday, June 27, 2010

Your Summer Cookout Survival Guide

By JJ Virgin
Summer is a great time to get in shape (the bikini for motivation, the sunshine for running outdoors), but it also introduces a host of health and nutrition challenges, among them, the summer cookout. Potato salad, hot dogs, and chips are all summer cookout staples, but they’re also nutritional disaster zones.
It’s fun to catch up with friends and family and catch some sunshine, so I’d never suggest that you forgo summer cookouts. Instead, here are some sensible survival tips.

1. Focus on friends, not food.
Instead of planting yourself in front of the food table and chowing down, find a seat next to a friend and catch up. Watch your kids play together, admire the host’s gorgeous garden, or chat about your summer travel plans. Make the celebration more about socializing than stuffing your face. Let other people serve themselves first, then meander over to the food later when you’re less rushed. Then choose a small plate of the most nutritious foods available, avoiding anything fried, breaded, or covered in mayo. Be sure to sit down and be mindful when you eat so you are totally aware of what is going into your mouth.
2. Make smart substitutions.
I suggest bringing something nutritious that you’ll want to eat so you won’t be so tempted by the fat & carb bombs in front of you. Instead of seven layer nachos and chips, bring guacamole and sliced veggies. In place of potato salad, bring a garden salad loaded with a rainbow of veggies and tossed with olive oil vinaigrette. Consider bringing turkey or chicken breast patties or fish for grilling so that you can bypass those ribs or burgers. Also, summer fruit makes the perfect dessert, so consider bringing fruit kabobs with strawberries, nectarines and apricots.
3. Side step the beverage black hole.
Those margaritas or wine coolers contain more sugar and calories you’d think. Instead, make iced green tea with flavored green tea bags for a touch of zing. I love mandarin orange! I’ll brew up a pitcher full and add some orange slices for some extra flavor. It makes for a great presentation, too. If green tea isn’t available, stick to water, sparkling water, or a glass of pinot noir (it’s the best and most delicious source of resveratrol, which protects against heart disease and cancer).
4. Follow the three-bite rule. 
If you’re dying for an ice cream sandwich or a juicy burger, then observe this simple rule: you can have three small, ladylike bites and then you’re done. Throw the rest away before your first bite so you won’t be tempted to finish it off.
That’s it. Now you’re ready to have fun and enjoy the cookout without stressing about what to eat!

©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and wellness expert JJ Virgin is a public speaker and author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong and Sculpted ArmsOrder your copy today!

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