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How to keep a cookout from blowing your diet

Create a plan to get a workout in, even if it is a shorter one than normal. Even 10 or 15 minutes are better than no exercise.

On the day of the party or cookout, be sure to eat regularly all day long. If the party is in the evening, eat breakfast, lunch, and a snack before hand (just as you would on any other day). Then, go ahead and indulge in some of the fun, delicious foods. Since you have eaten meals earlier in the day, you probably will find that you aren’t tempted to go overboard and eat everything in sight. However, if you starve all day long attempting to save up all your calories for the party, you will be so famished by the time it begins that it will be difficult not to overeat.

When at a party, start with some of the healthy offerings. For example, vegetable sticks (without dip), fruit pieces, plain chicken pieces, etc. Then move on to some of the less healthy offerings. You will be less likely to overindulge on these foods if you have already filled up on some of the healthier items. Yet, you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied.

Eat slowly. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full.

Avoid wasting calories on alcoholic beverages. The average alcoholic drink contains 150 – 200 calories per glass. Indulge in a few drinks and you’ve drunk the equivalent calories of an entire meal. If you partake in these beverages, choose wisely. For example, try mixing half a glass of wine with sparkling water and cut your calories in half.

Don’t waste your calories on sugary drinks. Drink a low-calorie or sugar-free drink with your meal, or better yet, drink water.

If you’re planning the menu you could choose to have some in-season fresh fruit for dessert instead of a sugary, calorie-laden dessert. You could make it special, with a little creativity. Following is a recipe for a fruit dip that is actually healthy. Start with a fruit salad, your favorite melons and berries would be great, cut up fruit into bite sized pieces, or make melon balls. Cut a watermelon in half lengthwise. Scoop out melon. Cut edge into any pattern, for example into a zigzag pattern. Fill this “bowl” with the cut up fruit. Serve with healthy fruit dip if you wish.

Super Easy Fruit Dip

1 (8 oz.) container sugar-free Cool Whip

1 (8 oz.) container strawberry yogurt

A few drops red food coloring

Blend together. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes. Garnish with strawberries.

Or, you can use any other flavor yogurt to make a different flavor dip. Change the food coloring and garnish to match the fruit of the yogurt chosen.

Betsy Adams writes a monthly column about health issues.