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Written by Morgan Schaack, RD, LD
on June 29, 2020

For most people, especially us southerners, July 4th is spent enjoying a long weekend filled with grilling out, drinking beer, soaking up the sun, and sharing laughs with family and friends. As glorious as this may sound, holidays can lead to anxious feelings for bariatric patients though, as they are typically surrounded by food. And we're not talking broccoli and cauliflower.

As we come together to celebrate the red, white and blue, we don’t want to over-indulge as it can cause us to get off track. Below are fantastic ways to “Party in the USA” without getting ourselves into trouble.

bunless burger for healthy 4th of July 1. Suns out, buns...off?

I often suggest skipping the hamburger and hotdog buns as they’re loaded with carbohydrates and offer little-to-no nutritional value. Swap the bread for a fresh salad, wrap your burger or dog with lettuce, or enjoy them with a simple fork and knife. If you really can’t go without the bun, toss the top to the fish at the lake.

2. Load up on grilled veggies

Independence Day and grilling out go hand-in-hand. Fill half your plate with veggies to avoid overdoing it on the higher-calorie sides.The fiber will help keep you full and prevent you from going back to the picnic table for seconds.

4th of July infused water for bariatric patients3. Stay hydrated

July is one of the hottest months of the year. We can feel the heat! Many people will be enjoying adult beverages, but it is imperative to drink lots of H2O to stay hydrated and keep your body from overheating. Limit both your alcoholic drinks and caffeine, as caffeine is a diuretic. Choose beverages that have less than ten calories per serving. Also, carrying a beverage in your hands makes it difficult to hold a plate and a fork!

4. Plan Ahead

Ask the host what types of foods will be served. This information will help you plan out your day and decide whether you need to eat at home or bring something with you. Offering to bring a dish that you know you can eat will help you and help the host.

5. Don’t save your calories

Although skipping meals to save calories for treats and high-calorie foods may look appealing, it’s best to stick to your regular eating patterns. You are more likely to overindulge if you arrive at the party famished. Do not skip meals or eat less to make room for the celebration. 

This is easier to do pre-operatively than post-operatively. When you overindulge in high-calorie foods after bariatric surgery, you may experience dumping syndrome. And nothing ruins a party faster than having your food come right back out!

4th of July buffet table for bariatric patients6. Take a lap, around the buffet table 

If your 4th of July celebration involves a buffet line, be sure to survey the selection first before loading up your plate. You want to make sure you choose the healthiest and tastiest looking foods before you overindulge in something that just wasn't worth the calories. Ya feel? 

7. Grab the small plate

You cannot fit a lot of food on a small plate. Small plate = smaller portions. When you’re finished, get rid of the plate, so you aren’t tempted to add more food to it.

8. Start an active tradition

kids playing kickball for a healthy 4th of July tradition

There’s nothing like a friendly, fun family game. Whether it’s a family 1 vs. family 2 kickball tournament, a neighborhood volleyball game, or participating in a July 4th 5K, an annual activity will be a pleasurable event at any July 4th celebration. Not only will it get everyone's heart pumping and endorphins going, but it will also put a smile on everyone's face! The stories of Uncle Bob passing the winning ball to the winning team will be told for years!

9. Start standing 

Standing, instead of sitting on the lounge chair with friends, can easily increase caloric burn. You can burn an average of 100-200 calories per hour when standing instead of sitting! Get up, walk around, and enjoy being outside in the beautiful weather celebrating our incredible country.

sunscreen to protect skin for a healthy 4th of July weekend10. Protect your skin

Being healthy isn't just about watching what you put in your mouth but also about how you take care of your body. And that includes your skin! If we are lucky, this year's 4th of July will be filled with sunshine and—not so lucky—that Georgia heat. Be sure to lather on that sunscreen to protect your skin against sun damage and aging. Your mama will appreciate that you finally listened! 

At the end of the weekend, just be sure you enjoy yourself, and most importantly, be safe! As we come together to watch lights boom in the sky and the smell of BBQ on the grill, remember what matters at the end of the day—Kindness to others and YOURSELVES! Happy Independence Day!

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