Nothing says summer like picnics, potlucks, and hanging out with friends and family! As an Integrative RDN, I’ve worked with several clients recently who struggle to have a great time at these events because of the food. They either can’t eat gluten, dairy, or something else that’s in many summer party dishes or they don’t want eating traditional pasta and macaroni salad to affect their progress with weight loss or making healthful lifestyle changes. . .
If similar challenges are going through your head too, here are 3 strategies I can offer to help you stay on track:
1. Bring healthy food that you love to the party! Many of the 17 Sweet and Savory Summer Salads below would be a great meal if that’s all you ate. They are all gluten free and dairy free or dairy optional too. Not only will you be thankful to have something at the picnic, party, or potluck that you enjoy, other guests will be thankful too.
2. Use the plate method to make healthful eating choices wherever you are. Fill 1/2 your plate with veggies and some fruit if you’d like, 1/4 with protein foods like beans, meat, fish, eggs, etc., and 1/4 with starchy vegetables or whole grains. Going back for seconds? Start with veggies. If there aren’t many veggies at the picnic, party, or potluck, try strategy 1 next time!
3. Use the 80-20 (or 90-10) Rule. More on this here. If what you normally eat is healthful (at least 80-90% of the time), enjoy the party, eat what you’d like, and be okay with it. Note that the 80-20/90-10 rule does NOT apply if you have food allergies or sensitivities- if this is the case, stick with strategy 1 and 2.
Try bringing one of these quick and easy sweet or savory summer salads to the next picnic, party, or potluck you’re headed to:
Cilantro Lime Sweet Potato Salad
Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Mexican Quinoa Salad with Avocado Dressing
Raspberry Spinach Quinoa Salad
Summer Picnic Quinoa Salad (client favorite!!)
Sweet Potato Quinoa Pilaf with Kale (great served cold as a salad)
Swiss Chard Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts
Tomato and Cucumber Quinoa Salad
Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Pesto, Black Olives, and Cherry Tomatoes