The days are getting longer, the air warmer and suddenly the social calendar fills up—there’s not an empty weekend in sight. All the work you did leading up to this summer; diet, exercise, meal prepping, etc., seems impossible to maintain with the thought of tropical drinks, barbecues and marathon-long wedding weekends.
While summer is beloved by most, the busy schedule and feeling of losing control, can stress out even the most zen person. Fret not, with planning and preparation, you can stay on track with the following four tips:
1. How to identify and manage stress before it starts
Stress affects everyone differently. For example, when my anxiety levels peak, I fall into “get-it-done” mode and my appetite falls to the wayside. However, skipping meals isn’t a healthy option to manage stress. For others, the prospect of mingling with family members (or worse, an ex) at a wedding can cause the opposite—stress eating!
First things first: breathe. Counteract stress by identifying past behaviors and propelling in front of them. If you tend to eat less when you’re busy, stock up on healthy protein bars. They’re easy to grab and offer necessary nutrients, even when your appetite is minimal.
Whether you’re a bride or a bridesmaid, if you’re stressed about a wedding and worried about mindless snacking leading up to the big day, pack your fridge with healthy options to nibble on! Be honest with yourself about triggers and how you react to them in order to mitigate the effects of stress.
2. Plan ahead
Failure to plan is a plan to fail. Summer is a busy season. When you hop from afternoon barbecues to rooftop soirees, meals can be irregular and unsubstantial. Then you drink on an empty stomach, which leads to quick tipsiness. Cut to eating things that your inner-nutritionist would never dream of—we’ve all been there! Avoid this cycle of bad behavior by planning ahead.
- Eat before you leave: Wedding ceremonies can be long. Grills typically don’t get fired up until an hour into a barbecue (sensing a pattern here?). No matter what type of event you’re attending, it may be a while before you get a meal in. Eat before you leave the house to give yourself a nice base prior to heading out for activities. Especially if you plan to enjoy a cocktail. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be an entire meal (think lean protein or high-fiber snacks).
- Bring snacks: This is especially important if you’re going to be out all day. Pack a few healthy snacks and an ice pack in a small cooler or lunch box to keep in your car while you’re party-hopping or running errands.
- Meal prep for trips: 25 percent of weddings are destination, which often equates to an oversight stay. If you don’t want to be left to the mercy of unknown food options, bring ingredients to whip up protein shakes the morning or before the festivities begin. Most hotels have a mini-fridge for storing cold food items.
- Devise a drinking plan: Before a big soirée—especially weddings—create an outline of the type and quantity of drinks you would prefer to consume. You don’t need to share this plan with anyone else, just make mental notes. Commit to X drinks over the timeframe of the event and drink water between each one. The act of mentally preparing yourself will help you moderate and be mindful of alcohol intake—even if you don’t follow it to the letter.
3. Contribute healthy options to parties
A potluck is the perfect gathering to bring nutritious menu items that you and everyone else will love. For other types of parties, reach out to the host before the party to discuss the menu. If they aren’t serving something that works for you, ask if you could bring something to throw on the grill, such as veggies or a lean protein.
You can always offer to bring enough for others; “That all sounds great, I would love to bring some tofu to grill and a garden salad to contribute!” If you’re nervous about processed ketchup, mayo and other toppings, make your own healthy condiments to share.
4. Drop the guilt
If you do indulge at a summer event, don’t dwell on it. It’s easier said than done, but guilt is such a detractor for our health plans. Too many times there’s an all-or-nothing mentality about dieting. It’s OK to indulge at a friend’s wedding, or have a few cocktails at a beach party. That doesn’t mean all your hard work goes down the drain.
Just start again tomorrow. Get in the mindset that summer is a time to celebrate, especially special occasions, guilt (like stress) does not need to be on the invite list.
Summer is a fun and festive time of year that can fly by in the blink of an eye. Don’t let stress, guilt or a busy social calendar take away from your happiness. Take a breath, plan ahead, own your diet and health goals, forgive yourself when things go sideways and enjoy!