Healthy Eating Tips for the 4th of July

7/2/19
WRITTEN BY: T'ara Smith
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The biggest cookout day of the year is coming up and we already know you’re going to be at someone’s house this 4th of July holiday or throwing your own party. Also, let’s be real, 4th of July parties consist of all kinds of foods — hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, seafood, beans, steak, ribs, and more. We’re not going to tell you to forgo all of the tasty options available, but we will tell you to go in with a game plan because unfortunately, diabetes doesn’t disappear just because it’s a holiday. With that said, check out our healthy eating tips to get you through the 4th of July cookouts.  

Get in a Good Workout in the AM 

Kickstart your morning with a good workout. Boost the intensity more than usual, if you can. There are some benefits to exercising earlier in the day, especially on what’s going to be an exciting day. Some benefits include: 

  • Sticking to your routine. Unless you’ve scheduled this holiday, or any other, to be a rest day, working out in the morning means you’re less likely to fall off your routine. 
  • Higher energy levels. Exercise gives you an energy boost and helps you improve your mood.
  • Worry-Free for the Rest of the Day. Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning means you have the rest of the day free to enjoy your barbecue with your friends and family. 

Eat at a Small Meal Before the Barbecue 

You know the feeling, you go all day without eating in anticipation for a great meal, only to gorge on a bunch of food and overindulge. A good way to ensure you won’t overeat is to have a meal before you attend the party. You don’t have to eat a full-sized meal, but rather an appetizer. 

Bring A Dish

Don’t think the cookout won’t have any foods that are conducive to your goals? Bring a dish. You can show off your own creativity and impress the other guests, or you can simply bring something solely for yourself. Here’s a scenario — let’s say the host is serving a dessert that’s too high in sugar, you can bring your own low-sugar or sugar-free sweet treat. Also, ask the host if there’s anything you can contribute. If you’re the host, this is a time to get creative with the fresh summer bounty of fruits and vegetables. Grill some corn, zucchini, and yellow squash. For the vegetarians and vegans, consider cauliflower steak, grilled eggplant, and black bean burgers. Salsas and salads are great options, too. Impress your guests by serving up fresh tomato, cilantro, and corn salad or a red, white, and blue fruit salad

Limit Carb and Alcohol Intake 

Barbecues usually contain a lot of carb-laden foods – from potato salad to the hot dog and hamburger buns to the condiments themselves. However, you still have some control over your plate. Opt for bunless or half-bunned burgers and bunless hot dogs. If there are other meat and vegetable options, go for those as well. 

Also, you can find carbs in alcohol. A can of beer can have up to 13g of carbs and while hard liquor itself may not contain carbs, sugar can be found in the mixers and sweeteners used to concoct party-favorite drinks. However, similarly to the section above, you can always make your own cocktails and bring them to the party. 

Watch Your Portion Sizes 

You don’t need to limit yourself in terms of deciding which foods to eat, but you should watch your portion sizes. If you can, ask the host if they have any appetizer-sized plates. If they don’t have smaller plates, go for the veggies and load up on those. When food labels aren’t present, remaining conservative on portion sizes can save you calories and keep you from consuming an excess in carbs, fat, and sodium. 

Walk and Talk 

It’s a party, right? While you’re mingling, walk and talk with some of the other guests. It may not seem like much, but moving around can help with digestion. Also, it’s easy to overeat when you’re in the presence of food, even if you aren’t hungry. Going for a stroll and spending time with the other guests can keep your mind off of it.  

Drink Water

Drink water before, during, and after you eat. This also keeps you from overeating. Sometimes, when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Plus, if it’s a hot day, you’re going to want to drink water to stay hydrated. If plain water isn’t your thing, add fruit and herbs to add freshness and flavor. Need an idea? Give our strawberry seltzer a try.

Don’t Take Home Leftovers 

We see you and we know you may want to take home a plate of food. Either that or someone is going to insist you do so. Feel free to politely decline. Enjoy the day, but tomorrow, it’s back to the routine. 

Inquire about Adjustments to Your Medication 

Just in case you do plan on indulging a little more than usual, ask your doctor what do if your blood sugar spikes too high. What glucose-lowering medications or activities should you do to treat hyperglycemia? Be prepared to take extra medication with you, if necessary. 

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor 

You should still be checking your blood sugar before, during, and after meals. This is so you can make modifications to your medication, food, and drink strategy during the cookout. For example, if you had a small plate of food and your blood sugar spiked higher than expected, then you can adjust accordingly. 

At the end of the day, we hope you enjoy the 4th of July holiday with your loved ones. It’s a time for food, fun, and fireworks with your friends and family and you can certainly do that even with diabetes.



T'ara Smith

T’ara was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in July 2017 at the age of 25. Since her diagnosis, she focused her academic studies and career on diabetes awareness and living a full life with it. She’s excited to have joined the Beyond Type 1 team to continue her work. Two years later, T'ara discovered she'd been misdiagnosed with Type 2 and actually has LADA. Outside the office, T’ara enjoys going to the movies, visiting parks with her dog, listening to BTS, and cooking awesome healthy meals. T’ara holds an MS in Nutrition Education from American University.