For us, the Fourth of July has always meant pool parties, watermelon, fireworks, barbeques and popsicles. As with most holidays, the fourth comes with its share of care-free attitudes, food celebrations and overindulging in heavy foods, which ultimately can make waistlines explode along with the firecrackers. Our clients admit that this is a time they tend to go a bit overboard. The good news is that while some of the food choices can be a real doozy for your summer beach body and for your health, if you simply concentrate on foods that are naturally red, white and blue, your meal will actually be lower in calories, artificial colors and in preservatives. You’ll also arm your body with the nutrients it needs to fight assaults from pollution, sun damage, stress and other toxins like alcohol, grilling carcinogens and less-than-healthy food choices.
To leave the BBQ feeling as good as new, ditch the items below—and their negative effects on the body—and replace them with foods that are naturally red, white and blue.
Most holiday foods (think fatty chips and burgers, creamy macaroni salads and rich desserts) are high in fat, calories, sugar and sodium, and low in nutrients. This means they ultimately damage your health and cause weight gain and bloat.
Foods high in salt increase blood volume, making you bloated. These foods also increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, increase inflammation, add more pressure to joints (making arthritis worse) and contribute to many other health issues.
Fatty foods are high in calories and lead to weight gain. They also take a long time to digest, so the food sits in your stomach for awhile, making you bloated. Plus, most of the fats at barbecues are saturated or contain trans fats, which are not good for your heart or your cholesterol level.
Sugary foods are also typically high in calories and they seem to weaken the immune system by reducing the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
Avoid fatty, high-calorie, salty and sugar-laden foods (such as the ones mentioned above) and instead choose foods that are naturally from the red, white and blue family—foods like berries, watermelon, tomatoes and cherries; bananas, mushrooms, pears and onions; and blueberries, blackberries, grapes, purple cabbage. (Check out all of the options below.) And then round out the rest of your barbecue with grilled, steamed and raw veggies and lean grilled protein (such as chicken breast or fish). And if you want a carbohydrate, go for fruit, corn on the cob, beans or whole grains.
Here’s why these red, white and blue foods can keep you healthy:
They fight damage and toxins. These plant-based foods are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to neutralize toxins and prevent inflammation that leads to disease and accelerated aging. This damage can be caused by overdoing it on less-than-healthy foods and drinks.
They keep you lean and bloat-free. Typically packed with fiber, these foods are naturally low in calories. Fiber prevents constipation and helps keep you regular. After your body extracts nutrients from food, fiber (think all vegetables, fruits and high-quality carbohydrates like red quinoa, red kidney beans and navy beans) helps to flush out the remains (waste and toxins) from your colon to give you a flat stomach.
They are 80 to 90 percent water and provide potassium to restore normal fluid balance and work against sodium to flush bloat.
Instead of artificial colors and flavors, get your red, white and blue from these scrumptious and health-promoting beach-body friendly meals:
For the grill:
Instead of a cheese burger, try a Portobello Burger
Skinny Turkey Meatballs with Wild Blueberry BBQ Sauce
Homemade Veggie Burgers made with Red Peppers and Mushrooms
Chicken Caprese Sliders
Healthy alternatives to creamy, fatty side dishes:
Instead of classic deviled eggs, try Skinny Deviled Eggs or Skinny Egg Salad Sandwiches
Instead of Classic Mashed Potatoes, Try Cauliflower Mashed potatoes
Egg Salad Tomato Poppers
Strawberries and Feta
Skinny Creamy Artichoke Dip Bites
Balsamic Drizzled Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant with Feta
Try these lightened up desserts:
Fruit & Cream Crepes
Coconut Fruit Pops
PB & Banana Frozen Pops
Lemon Wild Blueberry Mini Tarts
Skinny Strawberry Mint Ice cream
Grilled Banana Split