Fourth of July blog

The smell of barbecue, the sounds of fireworks, and the outdoor feasts are all parts of America’s favorite holiday.  Here are five tips to help you indulge without abandoning weight management.


  1. Think about your drink.

Prioritize your indulgences.  Only consume calorie-filled beverages if they are really special.  Ask yourself: “Would I get a lot of pleasure out of this?”  Skip the soda, punch, and lemonade if the answer is “no”.   Some of these drinks contain 200 calories per serving.  It is really easy to mindlessly drink 3 to 4 servings…600-800 calories worth.  Drink water or iced tea instead and save the calories for food.

Some people like having a couple of alcoholic drinks.  Always drink responsibly!  Remember that these drinks have calories too.  Beers can range from 90-240 calories per 12 fl. oz. and a margarita can contain as many as 800 calories.  If watching your waistline, then opt for the low-cal beers, the sugar-free mixes, and stick to one drink.


  1. Don’t forget your veggies.

People eat food that is in front of them, so provide a plethora of veggies.  Everything from carrot sticks to bell pepper slices are tasty treats.  Grill eggplant and zucchini with some garlic, rosemary, and olive oil.  Try to get as many veggies in the mix as possible.  Vegetables are full of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.  They are filling and light.  Replace the creamy dips with guacamole, hummus, and pesto for a healthier spread.


  1. Meet your meat.

Grill burgers that are made with lean meat.  A 3.5 oz. beef patty is 300 calories.  Leaner choices will reduce calories and unhealthy fat content.  A lean turkey patty is around 180 calories while a 93% lean beef patty is about 150 calories.

Don’t be quick to rule out a veggie burger.  Food scientists have been hard at work to improve the flavor and texture of veggie burgers.  Some people cannot tell the difference.


  1. Set boundaries.

Independence Day feasts are filled with “trigger” foods.  These are foods that are mindlessly consumed in an addictive fashion.  Different people have different trigger foods, but these foods tend to be unhealthy when overconsumed.  Some examples include chips, crackers, pretzels, chocolate, cake, etc.  The best way to go about these foods is to set boundaries with yourself.  For example:

  • “All chips are off limits today.”
  • “I will have only one dessert today.”
  • “I will say ‘no’ when someone offers me a third beer. Two beers is my limit.”


  1. Eat the healthiest foods first.

Fill up on fruits and veggies to help fend off the drive to eat large quantities of less healthy foods.  Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.  Pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness.  Rate your hunger from 1 (low) to 5 (painfully high).  If you are at level 1 or 2, then wait 15 minutes before putting anything in your mouth.


Happy 4th of July!


About the Author:

Devon L Golem PhD RD


Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

Devon is the VAND Professional Education Chair and lives in Charlottesville, VA.  She is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.  Please email her with any questions or comments about the blog at