Navigating Summer Ice Cream, Picnics, and Barbeques

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Every season has its foods – and summer screams for ice cream, picnic foods, and barbeque fare.  We want to celebrate and connect, and food is the vehicle.  Any group activity offers plenty of temptations.  So what do we do?

First enjoy the food rather than overindulging.  Overindulging brings along those feelings of remorse, guilt, and/or shame.  Who wants that wet blanket at a picnic?  If you’re going to have the foods you so love, take the time to chew, savor, and enjoy them.  When we allow ourselves to experience each bite,  we seldom need to overindulge.  Bonus:  no wrap-around guilt. 

At any meal where there are many choices, survey the options first.  Rather than mindlessly filling your plate as you always have, look at all the foods and consider how you feel.  Marie Kondo that thing – will it bring you joy?  Or heartburn and remorse?  


What foods MAKE this holiday for me?  Maybe it’s tradition, a once-a-year thing, or it’s something you LOVE.  Have a portion – or a couple of bites.  We only taste the first three bites of anything before the sensors of our tastebuds fade.  I wonder if that’s why when we taste something we really like, we eat faster as if trying to capture the flavors before they’re gone.  So have a few bites and savor them.

What are the flavors that make that connection?  When I lived in Wales, I introduced a friend to several foods that are common in Texas and parts of the U. S. but unusual there at the time:  Sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, persimmons.  She LOVED them.  One day I twigged and said, “Jane, you like cinnamon.”  It may be a spice, an herb, a texture, or other element that draws your taste buds over the actual food, so how can you get THAT element in a way that fits your nutrition plan?

Is that taste attached to a memory?  Sometimes it’s not the taste, it’s the memory, feeling, or connection to someone or a special time in our lives.  I will always be attached to tea (milk, no sugar) for the many hours I spent with friends in the UK over a cuppa.  Keeping my hands warm probably sealed the deal at the time, but there we are.  Thankfully, it fits my plan.  When it doesn’t, like the copious amounts of peanut butter I ate looking for that love and encouragement my grandmother once gave me, we make adjustments.

Taste the foods once again.  Take your time, chew slowly, and assess the flavor.  Is it that good?  Have your tastes changed?  Be ready, this may be a shock.  Peanut butter doesn’t have the flavors I remembered, nor do certain chocolates. How did that happen?

If you do still love them, enjoy them!  When you savor every bite, it may be easier to adjust the portion size.  For many foods, it’s not the macros that get us – it’s the portion size.  Consider the three-bite rule or taking maybe 75 percent of what you have in the past.  You can always go back for more if you’re not satisfied.

Most of all, enjoy your friends and family – engage in conversations and stories, and connect with those you love and care about.  THAT truly is the point.

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