7 Secrets to Healthy Summer Picnics

If you are like most baby boomers, you love a good picnic. Who doesn’t, right? They are a great way to get out in nature, relax and spend some summer days. But they can also wreak havoc on your health if you opt for the wrong foods on these picnics. In order to have a picnic that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty, or packing on the pounds, you have to keep some strategies in mind.

Healthy picnics start with the planning, so you can make sure that you have nutritious foods there in the first place. But you may also find that you attend a picnic where you have very little to do with the food involved. Whether you plan it or someone else does, here are seven secrets to healthy summer picnics:

Drinks. Being outdoors you will want to stay hydrated at the picnic. Some drinks are better than others. Some of the best picnic drink picks would be water (you can even add in slices of cucumber, lemon, lime or frozen fruit), unsweet iced tea, light lemonade, and cranberry juice cocktail.

Protein. Sure, burgers and hotdogs may try to steal the show. But your waist line would be better served by opting for things like a veggie burger, baked beans, bean salad, hummus, and lean meats (e.g., turkey, chicken).

Carbs. Just like the other areas, you have to watch your picnic carbs in order to get a healthy option. Good things to look for include cold pasta salad (made with whole wheat pasta and veggies), raw vegetables with low fat dips, nuts, and salads with low fat dressing. Also, grilled veggies such as zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and peppers are a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Drinks to avoid. There is no doubt that you will have a bevy of options in the drink category. But there are some that should be avoided at all costs. These include soda, shakes, sweet iced tea, and alcohol drinks that are loaded with calories. For example, a pina colada has around 375 calories.

Mindset. It is important to keep a positive attitude when you attend the picnic. Focus on making it a healthy time and enjoying being outdoors and with good company, rather than focusing on the food.

Spoilage. There are some foods that are known to have a high risk of spoiling at picnics because they can’t be left out in the heat for very long. These include anything with mayo (macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc.), and meat and egg products. They should not be sitting out a long time getting warm. When in doubt, skip eating these products.

Company. Try to bring along healthy-minded friends to the picnic. When there are more people who are concerned about being healthy, you have a better chance that there will be healthy options available.

Healthy picnics are within reach and within your weight loss goals. It’s just a matter of going into it with a strategy that sets you up for success. Plan ahead, keep these tips in mind, and have a great summer picnic!