I love them and I hate them - cookouts! Cookouts are great for reconnecting with friends and having a super play date with the kids! However, look over the menu at cookouts and it's no surprise that folks gain weight over the summer. At a recent cookout, I observed the plates of the guests. Hamburgers, hot dogs, buttered corn-on-the-cob, chips, dessert, beer, and wine - very tasty and extremely fattening. On any given day, these foods aren't necessarily evil, just a cheat snack occasionally. However, over the course of several hours, eating this much food can expand your waistline fast; even faster as you age.
Overeating around others isn't a new thing though and research proves it. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating - Why We Eat More Than We Think has done some amazing studies on why people overeat. In a study of overeating, his team found that almost half of the participants overate because of emotional stress or because the food was spectacular (e.g. looks matter!) Other studies showed that even if the food wasn't good, people overate and people tend to follow the lead of others. If the person in front of you is piling up their plate, you will most likely follow suit.
Even with a healthy menu overeating (e.g. weight gain) can still occur. That's why it's important to control your environment as much as possible. Grab a small plate (9 1/2 or 10 inch versus 12 inch) and load it up, no more than two times. Start with a plate of vegetables and make your second plate with everything else, including dessert. Over the summer it's easy to gain those few pounds that you lost by attending cookouts but remember cookouts aren't the enemy. You're in complete control of what you eat and how much to eat. Set a game plan before you get there, consider the food options, and make the best choices for you. If you can bring a dish, choose a healthy dish or better drink (e.g. no soda!). Before you know it cookout setbacks will be a thing of the past and you'll reach your goals faster!
What challenges do you face at cookouts? What will you do differently in the future?