If you’re thinking about those upcoming Labor Day festivities with a mixture of excitement and angst, we understand. It’s the last hurrah of summer, after all, and there’s nothing like a relaxing get-together with family and friends to celebrate the end of one season and the beginning of another. But there’s also the potential downside: namely, the tempting, yet less-than-healthy food and drinks that are sure to be in abundance.
Well, the good news is you can enjoy Labor Day—or virtually any holiday or celebration, for that matter—without undoing the progress you’ve made on your journey to better health and weight loss. It just takes planning, some smart strategies and some firm resolve to stay in your groove. Read on for eight ways to keep your momentum going over Labor Day weekend.
1. Be picky about your parties.
It may be tempting to accept every party invitation, but try to keep the end goal in mind: better health and weight loss success. By thoughtfully choosing one celebration to attend, you may feel less stressed—you won’t need to worry about making multiple dishes and you can focus your energy on enjoying the company by your side—instead of worrying about the next party!
2. Consider hosting a celebration yourself.
Worried about all the not-so-healthy dishes that are bound to end up on the buffet line or picnic table? See if you can organize and host a Labor Day party so you have more control over the food and drinks that get served. To get a few ideas, check out our Simply Inspired recipes!
3. Playing host? Focus on your plate—and fork—size.
In addition to following the tried-and-true advice to use smaller plates when serving food (which research1 shows can reduce the amount of food you eat when you’re serving yourself), consider the size of fork you put out as well. In a field study2 of people eating in a restaurant, researchers found that the study subjects actually ate less when using large forks as opposed to small ones. The thought is that visual cues led people to eat less: By seeing the amount of food on their plate shrink more quickly by taking larger bites, they tended to stop eating sooner.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can compensate for calories eaten later by skipping meals earlier in the day. Doing so can make you ravenous later on and cause you to make poorer food choices.3 So make a point to eat a healthful breakfast and snacks before the festivities begin.
Eating breakfast isn’t only important over Labor Day weekend to stay healthy. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic4 have found that regularly skipping breakfast not only puts you at higher risk for gaining weight, but for putting on dangerous visceral “belly” fat.
5. Check out the food before loading up your plate.
Instead of wandering up and down the food line and filling your plate with everything that looks good, take a close look at all the foods being offered before getting in line, then come up with a plan for what foods you will eat. Along those same lines, choose only the foods that you really want—you don’t have to try everything just because it’s there. And, of course, make an effort to watch your portion sizes.
6. Take calorie-cutting steps where you can.
Little things can add up, so reach for snappy vegetables instead of crunchy chips. Grab a water over juice, fruit over cake—every little swap can help! Instead of sipping on empty calories packed in wine, beer and sugary laden mixed drinks, grab a refreshing seltzer water and add a lime or other fruit for a satisfying thirst quencher.
7. Get some exercise before the party—and the day after.
Getting a good workout in before you head off to the festivities will not only burn extra calories, but it may also put you in the right frame of mind to keep you from overindulging. (But working out also doesn’t give you the option to throw your healthy eating habits out the window!) Also, schedule a heart pumping activity for the following day so you can get right back into the swing of things.
8. Bring along healthy activities.
Instead of chatting around the buffet line, strike up a game of volleyball, play tag with your kids, throw a ball for your dog—enjoy the company that surrounds you!
Above all, remember that Labor Day is a time for celebration, a time to rest and relax with friends and family. We hope these tips give you a plan for how to handle the temptations that may arise—and ways for you to enjoy the holiday to the fullest, while still staying on track with your weight-loss goals.
Do you need help with your weight-loss efforts? Book your free appointment with a Jenny Craig personal weight loss consultant to get started!
Carole Anderson Lucia
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus
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