15 Tips for Guilt Free Summer Gatherings

Who wants guilt free barbecues, picnics and other summertime get togethers? Normally they can be a breeding grounds for unhealthy food and alcohol; let’s make them guilt free. This article will give you some ideas as a guest and as a host for the many social gatherings you will likely encounter this summer season.

Bring a healthy dish to pass

If you are going to a party, be the one who brings something healthy. You can keep it simple by bringing the fruit or veggie tray. You can also cook healthy items that will be crowd pleasers. Try Healthy Pumpkin Muffins, Best Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, Springtime Mixed Berry Salad, Cranberry Almond Broccoli Salad, Zesty Kale and Sweet Potato Bowl, Sliced Cucumber Snack.

Bring a lower calorie alcoholic beverage

Is it BYOB? Bring something low calorie to enjoy like one of the many seltzer water beverages (White Claw is a good example), light beer, vodka or gin and soda water with a twist of lemon or lime. If you don’t mind staying dry, just do a soda water with lemon or lime. No one will know you are abstaining so they will leave you alone about it. Sip and sit back and watch the show as everyone else is drinking.

Be the Designated Driver

If you feel like there is a lot of pressure to drink but you don’t want to waste the calories on it, volunteer to be the DD. No one will pressure you to drink if you are offering to be the responsible one.

Carry water around with you

If you have a water bottle or glass in you hand, you are less likely to munch. It’s very difficult to carry a water bottle and a plate and be able to eat what is on it. Plus staying hydrated can help prevent false hunger.

Stay social AWAY from the food table

The closer proximity the food table is, the greater the likelihood you will grab food mindlessly. Purposely move away from the table as you are looking for someone to enjoy conversation with.

Bring a fun table game to play that keeps your hands busy

Bring a dice game, card game or some other type of game that keeps your mind and hands busy. It can be fun to teach other silly games to fellow party goers. A fun party game you may enjoy is Tenzi. My husband and I discovered this one a few years ago and love pulling it out for a rowdy, quick and entertaining game. A fun card game is Peanuts. Show up with 5-10 different decks of cards. No one will be able to eat during this crazy game.

Bring a compact yard game to play

If it is an outdoor event, bring something to play in the grass, sand or whatever outdoor space there will be. There are many outdoor games that can be easily carried and don’t do any damage to the yard. Ring Toss and Corn Hole are good examples.

Set your intention and create a plan

Are you working towards a health goal? Then go to the party with a plan that will keep you on track. You can set goals around how many alcoholic beverages or sodas you will have, how many desserts you will allow yourself, how many people you will try to connect with, etc.

If you are the host, have active things available to do

Although not everyone will want to do active games, many will be willing to and will very much enjoy them. Be sure to have some fun and simple activities available for people to do. Of course it depends on the gathering, who will be there, what they will be wearing, what the intention of the gathering is. That being said, it’s always nice to offer something to do other than sit, talk, eat, drink, repeat.

Set a theme that naturally brings some healthier options

Create a theme that naturally begs people to bring slightly healthier foods. A couple themes that would lead towards healthier choices are Eat the Rainbow (bring a colorful dish) and Spring Time Bounty.

Offer a soda water flavoring station

Put out soda water with a bunch of fruit and fruit juice options for flavoring it. The same could be done with plain water or unsweet iced tea as well.

Offer/bring a lean protein source

Is it a dish to pass and your protein for the grill? Think outside of the bun. Bring skinless chicken breast, lean steak, salmon, tuna, or tofu.

Limit the sauces you use

Do the vegetables really need ranch? Does that dessert really need whipping cream on top. More than likely, the foods you want will be delicious without all the extra sauce. If you must add sauce, use 1/2 the amount you would normally take.

Look over the buffet before choosing

Take a stroll through the entire buffet before you choose what will go on your plate. This way you can have a plan of action going into it, taking only the foods that you really want rather than a little of this and a little of that leading to a lot all together.

Say no thank you to seconds

Sure Aunt Mary’s casserole is the most amazing thing you have tasted in years. However, with everything you just ate, are you actually hungry still? Take a moment, think before you reach for that spoon. Just think about how much more you will be looking forward to it at the next family gathering if you don’t over-indulge and then feel all those guilt feelings after.