In light of the July holiday weekend (Canada Day for my Canadians; Independence Day for my Americans), I feel a pep talk around summer holiday eating is in order. I find summer BBQ/garden party/camping nutrition to be actually incredibly easy. Read on...
BYOSSNDMSS: Bring Your Own Satiating, Satisfying, Nutrient-Dense, Metabolically Supportive Snacks
I am always the gal supplying the "charcuterie" at every party or event I go to. And you know what? People drool over it. It's real food. It's rich and luxurious. A blend of incredible tastes, and textures.
It a food experience that chips and dip just can't measure up to. Here is a picture of a spread I supplied at a party I went to a little while back:
I don't know about you but these are basically some of my favourite foods. In fact, I'd argue that there a lot of peoples' fave foods on here.
We've got all kinds of great sausage, including some wild elk sausage; but also regular old pork garlic sausage, plus deli meat, which isn't "clean" per se, but is about a million times better than chips or cupcakes (lesser of many evils, if you will). Nuts. Olives, pickles, and pickled veg. A variety of cheeses. I've got some 80% dark chocolate in there. Dried strawberries. Orange slices. I grazed on this and so did everybody else. These foods are satiating and satisfying and metabolically supportive. Not only do they taste great but they help manage your appetite so you simply are less "called to" by the chips and cupcakes.
What about the drinks?
Here's what happening, metabolically, when you imbibe in alcoholic beverages. It is said that the body metabolizes the alcohol first. Alcohol is an anti-nutrient and the body considers it toxic, so it tries to "get rid of it" as soon as it can. So your body will burn the alcohol calories first, which means - theoretically - that your food calories may more readily be stored as fat. But it's not totally that black-and-white. Your TOTAL DAILY calorie balance determines this, not just the calories from the food you eat at the party. In fact, it probably even goes deeper than your daily caloric amount and averages out for the week or so, truthfully (the body doesn't reset its internal calorie counter to 0 at the beginning of a new day...).
In short: your body doesn't know you're at a party and you're having some drinks and snacks. It only knows what energy is coming in and going out. So have some drinks if that's your flavour, but be realistic about two things: 1) The caloric/metabolic hit of your particular drink of choice. Any spirit mixed with soda or water is your lightest choice in terms of sugar. Then dry wines. Beer and cocktails are kind of metabolic blowouts, frankly. I don't say that to dissuade you, only to give you the straight goods so you can make whatever decision you want to make. 2) What effect do a few wobbly pops have on your appetite and cravings? Be real with yourself as to whether all of your resolve goes out the window. This is another reason why the charcuterie tray hits the mark. At least if your appetite does dial up when your inhibitions dial down, you'll be surrounded by metabolically supportive foods.
The foods in that picture above really change the expression of hunger - I mean, biochemically - so you won't snack as much at the party, and then the drink(s) you have are truly less of an issue too, because your calorie balance is lower than it would have been if you were grazing on non-satiating crackers and cookies. (It's not that cookies/crackers have more calories, necessarily; it's that they're much easier to overeat. Have you tried bingeing on olives or elk sausage lately?!) At the end of the day we're all grown-ass adults who can make food and drink decisions for ourselves. My job is to arm you with the data.
I think it's incredibly important that we get to have fun, socialization, frivolity, and good times in our lives, so it's best to learn how to navigate them, than to decide ditch out on social events because you're "on a diet."