6 Tips to Avoid Summer Party Weight Gain

With summer parties can come summer weight gain. Here are 6 tips to avoid it. The festivities that summer brings are great, but they tend to involve lots of food. So how can you enjoy the summer fun without gaining extra weight? These 6 tips will help you enjoy all of your summer parties and activities without adding extra pounds.

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Operation Graduation

As some of you may know, I am graduating this weekend with a B.S. in Dietetics. My roomies and I decided at the beginning of the semester that we wanted to have all of our relatives celebrate together on the big day, rather than separately. Our solution: a graduation party at our apartment. However, once we added everyone up, we realized that our guest count is going to come out right around 50. Yes, you read that right: 50 PEOPLE! After I had a mild panic attack, we immediately went into planning mode. How can we feed all of these people? What are we going to feed all of these people? We knew immediately there was no way we could make enough food for everyone between the three of us. I mean, even if we could make it, we only have one refrigerator. Instead, we decided to make our event a potluck. If you're starting to have flashbacks of potlucks gone wrong, let me tell you, potlucks have gotten a lot more high-tech recently, thanks to my new favorite website, perfectpotluck.com. On this website, you can create an event and include details such as location or any other information you want your guests to know. Then, decide how many options you want in each category (main dish, side dish, dessert, etc.) and send the link to all of your guests via email. Then, friends can sign up for whatever they want to bring and you never have to worry about that awkward potato salad battle. You know what I'm talking about. When two people bring potato salad and everyone gets to see which one is the obvious favorite by how much is eaten of each. Instead, you'll have a varied spread with a little something for everyone.

Right now, I'm feeling good about the event ahead of us. I think we have enough food in each category and enough overall. Now we just have to wait and see what happens on graduation day! Check back next week for a report on how it all went down and lots of pictures!

What's your go-to recipe when attending a potluck? Post in the comments below! : )

Pizza Party!

Yes, you heard me right. But this isn't the typical pizza party you're thinking of with a delivery man knocking on your door and the post-pizza guilt after you've had one-too-many slices. Instead, imagine homemade 100% whole-wheat dough divided into individual portions, a simple sauce, and a toppings bar with something for every palate.

We hosted a "make-your-own" pizza party at my house recently and, needless to say, it was a big hit. We provided the dough, sauce, and mozzarella, along with our own personal toppings and our guests contributed any topping they liked. Whether you're hosting a party like ours or just making this as a fun family dinner, you won't be disappointed with the results.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

makes 5 personal pizzas

from Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart

This process involves a delayed fermentation method that takes place over two days. You will start with two doughs, the "soaker" and the "biga." Later, these will be combined to make the final dough.

Soaker Ingredients

1 3/4 cups or 227 grams whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon or 4 grams salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons or 198 grams water

Soaker Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl by hand until a ball of dough forms and no dry spots remain, about 1 minute.

2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hrs or refrigerate for up to 3 days (remove 2 hours before final mixing).

Biga Ingredients

1 3/4 cups or 227 grams whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon or 1 gram instant yeast

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons or 198 grams water at room temperature (70 °F)

Biga Directions

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl by hand until a ball forms. With wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes, ensuring there are no dry spots and ingredients are mixed well. The dough should feel very tacky. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes, then knead with wet hands for an additional 1 minute. The dough will be smooth but still tacky.

2. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hrs-3days.

3. Remove from refrigerator about 2 hours before mixing final dough.

Final Dough Ingredients



7 tablespoons or 56.5 grams whole wheat flour

5/8 teaspoon or 5 grams salt

1 1/2 teaspoons or 5 grams instant yeast

2 1/4 teaspoons or 14 grams honey

3 tablespoons olive oil

Final Dough Directions

1. On a lightly floured surface, use a metal pastry scraper to chop the "soaker" and "biga" into 12 pieces each (sprinkle flour over the pre-doughs to prevent the pieces from sticking back together).

2. Using a stand mixer*, put the dough pieces in the bowl with the flour, salt, yeast, honey, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix with the paddle attachment on low-speed for 1 minute, or until the ingredients come together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium low-speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed, until the dough is completely mixed. Add flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

*I prefer the stand mixer, but you can use your hands as well. Simply knead the dough with wet hands for 2 minutes, until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to coat., then knead by hand for 3-4 minutes, until the dough is soft and very tacky, verging on sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicon mat, then oil it with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Knead the dough for 1 minute to develop the gluten. It should be soft, supple, and very tacky, verging on sticky. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Form each piece into a tight ball by flattening into a square, pulling the corners together, and pinching the seams closed (this side is the bottom). Roll the balls in the oil to coat the entire surface of each, then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature. If cooking on a pizza stone, allow it to preheat in oven for 1 hour while

the dough is rising. Otherwise, cook the pizzas on the underside of a sheet pan. Shape the pizza dough into your desired shape and then top with sauce and your favorite toppings. For the sauce recipe we used, click here.

6. Slide the topped pizzas onto the stone or baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes.

7. Remove pizza from oven and transfer to cutting board. Allow pizza to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. However, if you're like us, you just might not be able to wait that long.

How to Eat Well at Any Event

This weekend, I attended the wedding of two of my friends and it got me thinking, events like these can be a challenge for those trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. The combination of an endless sea of delicious food and an atmosphere of overindulgence can send even the most health conscious heading back for another helping at the buffet or contemplating a second slice of cake. With that in mind, I've outlined a few simple strategies that you can use to enjoy your party, wedding, whatever without that "I should have worn bigger pants" feeling or  a regretful trip to the scale the next morning.

1. Don't show up hungry

Many people will restrict their eating or not eat at all before a big event in an effort to "save" calories for the night ahead. This plan backfires however, because, when you're ravenous, you end up over-eating in the end. Also, your brain actually makes the food you're eating taste better so you want to eat even more! Instead, eat really clean before your party with a good mix of produce, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. This way, you'll only eat what you really love at the event and you can counteract any less than stellar choices you may make later on.

2. Drink up! (water, that is)

Keeping you water glass full can be a big help for a number of reasons. First off, many of us confuse our thirst and hunger cues. You may think you're hungry, but what you really need is a little hydration. Also, water helps to keep you full, so you'll naturally eat less food. Lastly, the food at your event may be saltier than what you would usually eat at home. You can combat that gross, bloated feeling by balancing the extra sodium with a little more water.

3. When it comes to hors d'oeuvres, eat one of everything

You shouldn't feel deprived when you go to any celebration, but you also don't want to eat freely, because all those little bites are easy to loose track of and can really add up. Instead, follow the rule of one: you can have one of each hors d'oeuvres you want. The first taste is always better than the tenth, so using this strategy allows you to eat what you love, without over-doing it. Then choose unlimited fruits and veggies and listen to your tummy. Don't stuff yourself.

4. Fill half your plate with vegetables, then eat them first

By loading up on veggies (no, mashed potatoes and french fries don't count) you'll fill up on low calorie fare that's chock full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Then, you can enjoy the other options, and your belly full of vegetables will stop you from over-eating.

5. Move your body!

A great way to counteract party eating is to get some exercise. Before your event, try to get a workout in. Not only will you burn off some extra calories, but you'll feel great about yourself (there's no better accessory than confidence) and engaging in a healthy behavior may make it harder for you to shovel down more than your share of spinach-artichoke dip. You can also remain active at your event. Walk around and mingle, stand up, and shake your booty on the dance floor. It may not seem like much, but all of that extra moving really adds up and it's way better than sitting on your tush all night.