How To Stay Healthy And Still Enjoy The Fourth of July

By Rachel Brandt
In Culture
Photo courtesy of Simply Healthy, LLC

Photo courtesy of Simply Healthy, LLC

Holidays can be the bane of successful dieting and healthy living. We’ve all been there, trucking along on the clean eating and exercise highway only to be skidded to stop by the sweet and savory temptations of a holiday barbecue. This time we’re prepared.

Elaine King is a board-certified holistic health coach and owner of Simply Healthy, LLC, a website and business dedicated to health and wellness. We caught up with her for a little advice on how to survive the Fourth, healthy diet intact, and still have a little fun.

ALIVE: What are a few tips you could give us on resisting the temptation of junk food and alcohol on the Fourth of July?

King: Believe it or not, resisting temptation actually begins before you even begin your celebration. Many people try to save calories by not eating much before the holiday. They may skip breakfast and maybe even lunch, just so they can indulge later. That actually has an adverse effect on your system. Your body goes into emergency mode and you can end up over-eating just because your system is depleted of nutrition. Your body actually thinks it’s starving!

You know you’ll be eating soon, but your body thinks this could be your last meal for a while and stores the extra calories for later. So the best strategy is to eat a wholesome and nutritious breakfast, and maybe lunch, depending on when your celebration happens. Then when it’s time to dig in, you can enjoy eating without over-doing it.

Another strategy is to make sure your meal is balanced. Include lots of veggies on your plate along with the meat. Ever been to a party and there’s nothing green to eat in sight? If you’re attending a gathering where that’s the norm, be sure your dish to share is a nice green salad! It’s really about being aware of portion sizes and making good choices.

Photo by Amber Joivon

Photo by Amber Joivon

ALIVE: What are some menu options you would suggest to keep us satiated but also healthy?

King: Quinoa-based salads can be very filling and nutritious. Add some tomatoes, green onion, avocado, and a vinegar-based dressing and you’ll have a delicious and hearty salad. Hearty veggies like dark leafy greens are great as a base too. My family really enjoys a massaged kale salad. Massaging breaks down the fibers so the greens aren’t as tough.

Choose desserts that highlight the fruit of the season: Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are delicious right now! Berries are actually top of the list when it comes to nutritious fruit. They’re low in sugar and full of fiber.

Be sure to have plenty of water for hydration, especially if drinking alcohol. Infusing water with fruit or herbs is very refreshing and tasty. It looks pretty too!

 ALIVE: The massaged kale salad sounds delicious. What keeps you motivated when you are tempted on holidays?

King: I do indulge on the holidays. But for me, quality matters. If the dish includes refined sugar and processed ingredients, I usually steer clear. My motivation to stay away is knowing how it will make me feel later! I gravitate toward what’s fresh and made with wholesome ingredients.

ALIVE: Noted. So, what if we mess up our plan and cheat? What should we do?

King: First of all, don’t beat yourself up;  it happens. I don’t even like to think of it as cheating if you’ve been eating clean for every other meal. Just get back on track for the next meal. If you focus on clean eating the majority of the time, when the holiday rolls around, you can feel comfortable indulging a little. Naturally, you’ll be ready to get back to more simpler meals. The key is getting back on track quickly.

How will you stay healthy this weekend? Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #31DaysOfMovement. Pledge to live well in the month of July and win a free day of climbing from Climb So ILL in St. Louis. Find more healthy living posts on our new blog, Be Well STL.

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