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Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and that means more outdoor meals. Picnics can be lots of fun, but beware of over-indulging. LMQC Nutrition Blogger, Jeni Tackett shares her five tips for surviving your next picnic.

by Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett, RD, LD

Memorial Day picnics are great fun, but, like most things, come with both benefits and temptations. The benefits include: Fun! Also, the meat or vegetables are grilled, not fried, and fresh fruits are in season. The dangers include: Too Much Fun! Pasta salads, high-fat meats like brats, and desserts galore can expand your waistline.

Try to balance your meals using this handy nutrition guide

As you prepare for your Memorial Day weekend celebration, keep some of these tips in mind:

Follow the one-plate rule
Do you eat multiple plates of food at home each meal? Probably not. Do not use picnics and cookouts as an excuse for over-eating. Fill one plate with food and follow the “choose my plate” rule: half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter should be whole grains, and one quarter should be lean protein.

Lay off the mayo
Mayonnaise is one of the highest fat ingredients and condiments. One tablespoon of mayo has 10 grams of fat. Mayonnaise-laden salads such as potato and pasta salad are high in calories and fat. You can make pasta and potato salads with light or fat free mayonnaise, switch out with low fat yogurt, or you can limit your portion sizes to ½ cup or less.

Choose lean protein
Do not be in denial – brats and hot dogs are high in fat. Most bratwursts have 15-25 grams of fat each, which is about one third to one half of that fat you should have for the whole day. Choose leaner meats such as chicken breast, pork tenderloin, tuna, or salmon.

Savor one special dessert rather than trying everything
Mindless eating is an easy trap during parties. You may find yourself nibbling on store-bought cookies when really you just want to try your best friend’s homemade brownies. With desserts, be choosey. Pick your favorite special dessert and enjoy it! Eat slowly and try to eat a small portion.

Chew more
Eating slowly results in eating less. A study in 2013 from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating slowly reduces risk of obesity and increases sense of fullness. People often eat in less than 20 minutes and do not realize when they are feeling full. Make a point of chewing slowly and prolonging your meals.

Pick calorie free beverages
Calories from beverages add up. Avoid sugary beverages such as regular soda, lemonade, tea with sugar, and alcohol. Instead, drink water with lemon or lime, soda water, sugar-free lemonade, and unsweetened tea.

As a registered dietitian, I always bring something healthy to cookouts. Recently, I brought an assortment of fresh fruit with a low-fat Greek yogurt based dip. Everyone loved the fresh treat and your waistline will thank you.

Here’s to a memorable Memorial Day and a summer packed with fun and great food!

by Nutritionist Blogger, Jeni Tackett, RD, LD

Memorial Day picnics are great fun, but, like most things, come with both benefits and temptations. The benefits include: Fun! Also, the meat or vegetables are grilled, not fried, and fresh fruits are in season. The dangers include: Too Much Fun! Pasta salads, high-fat meats like brats, and desserts galore can expand your waistline.

Try to balance your meals using this handy nutrition guide

As you prepare for your Memorial Day weekend celebration, keep some of these tips in mind:

Follow the one-plate rule
Do you eat multiple plates of food at home each meal? Probably not. Do not use picnics and cookouts as an excuse for over-eating. Fill one plate with food and follow the “choose my plate” rule: half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter should be whole grains, and one quarter should be lean protein.

Lay off the mayo
Mayonnaise is one of the highest fat ingredients and condiments. One tablespoon of mayo has 10 grams of fat. Mayonnaise-laden salads such as potato and pasta salad are high in calories and fat. You can make pasta and potato salads with light or fat free mayonnaise, switch out with low fat yogurt, or you can limit your portion sizes to ½ cup or less.

Choose lean protein
Do not be in denial – brats and hot dogs are high in fat. Most bratwursts have 15-25 grams of fat each, which is about one third to one half of that fat you should have for the whole day. Choose leaner meats such as chicken breast, pork tenderloin, tuna, or salmon.

Savor one special dessert rather than trying everything
Mindless eating is an easy trap during parties. You may find yourself nibbling on store-bought cookies when really you just want to try your best friend’s homemade brownies. With desserts, be choosey. Pick your favorite special dessert and enjoy it! Eat slowly and try to eat a small portion.

Chew more
Eating slowly results in eating less. A study in 2013 from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating slowly reduces risk of obesity and increases sense of fullness. People often eat in less than 20 minutes and do not realize when they are feeling full. Make a point of chewing slowly and prolonging your meals.

Pick calorie free beverages
Calories from beverages add up. Avoid sugary beverages such as regular soda, lemonade, tea with sugar, and alcohol. Instead, drink water with lemon or lime, soda water, sugar-free lemonade, and unsweetened tea.

As a registered dietitian, I always bring something healthy to cookouts. Recently, I brought an assortment of fresh fruit with a low-fat Greek yogurt based dip. Everyone loved the fresh treat and your waistline will thank you.

Here’s to a memorable Memorial Day and a summer packed with fun and great food!

Jeni Tackett

Jeni Tackett

Nutritionist Blogger

Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Rock Valley Health. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition.