Tips for Navigating the Company Picnic

This weekend is my company’s annual picnic.  I’ve mentioned before that this day is like a holiday for my coworkers and I.  It’s pretty much a huge carnival with tents, rides, games, a pirate ship, a beer tent, and food galore.  Including free lobsters!  I’ve gone every year since I started working for my company in 2007, and it’s such a good time. 

joans-wedding-005

However, with so many food options right at our disposal, it’s not always easy to make your way around the choices!  It’s definitely a day to splurge a little, but just like I blogged about earlier this week in regards to vacations, you don’t want one day (or one trip in that case) to completely set you back with your healthy living goals.  That being said, here are my tips for navigating the company picnic!  This post is definitely geared toward those F&F readers that work at my company, but I’m confident any reader could apply this advice to their own corporate events. 

Tips for Navigating the Company Picnic

Eat breakfast
Despite how much food will be available to me come picnic day, I always make sure to eat a filling breakfast before I leave.  If you arrive ravenous to the event, you will be more likely to eat whatever is in front of you without being mindful of the choices you are making.  You will also be more apt to scarf down your meal and head for seconds without taking a minute to realize whether you are full or not.  I recommend a small, heart healthy breakfast such as a whole grain English muffin with some almond butter, a plain yogurt with sliced banana, or some baked oatmeal casserole topped with blueberries.

Baked Oatmeal Casserole with Oikos Yogurt and Blueberries

Spread out your portions
Remember that when you arrive at the picnic, it will likely still be early in the day (I usually aim to get there around 11am).  You probably won’t need to load up your plate the second you arrive, especially if you ate breakfast.  If you ARE hungry when you get there, choose one or two small things to eat and keep your portions in check.  Remember, you can go back up for seconds… thirds… fourths… as many times as you want, so there’s no rush. 

Choose lighter options first
I recommend choosing lighter fare such as seafood, salad, or chicken before moving onto some of the splurges and treats.  I always try to stick to lobsters, oysters, steamers (with limited butter) first because to me those are treats, but they are also healthier than a lot of the fried options there.  The salad bar is a great place to go first too.  If you spend your calories on these healthier options first, you will feel more full and be less likely to spend your calories on those not so good for you options.

lobster

Go better with booze
When it comes to enjoying a couple of adult beverages, you could opt for the lighter options such as Bud Light over Budweiser.  Or maybe go for a glass of red wine instead of white (although I personally prefer white in the summer).  One tip that my friend Monique recommends is to alternate so that you have an alcoholic beverage, but then have water.

Make small adjustments
There are ways to “cut corners” with your favorite BBQ and grill options without feeling like you are depriving yourself.  My favorite way is to enjoy a burger, but enjoy it without the bun or open-faced.  You could do the same with a hot dog. 

Grilled Chicken Pesto Burgers

Be strategic with your treats
Of course the picnic wouldn’t be as fun if you didn’t treat yourself to SOMETHING not so great.  Everyone does deserve a splurge once in a while, and we’re all human after all!  However, when it comes to your treats, pick your favorites.  You don’t need to try every single treat there.  Maybe pick one or two, and save them for the end of the picnic, so they are more enjoyable.  Also, don’t waste your splurge on something that doesn’t thrill you!  For example, if you feel meh about ice cream, skip the sundae bar.  If you do want ice cream, limit to one scoop and maybe skip the candy toppings.  One other way to be strategic with your splurges is to share with a friend.  The fried dough at the picnic is HUGE!  I like to have one bite of fried dough every year, but that bite does it for me.  Sometimes just a taste of something is all you need.

Mingle
Try not to stay seated in one place for the entirety of the picnic.  Get up, move around, talk to people!  The more you are talking, the less you will be eating.  And the more you are moving around outside of the food tent means the less likely you will be going back up for food.  Plus if you are walking around, playing games, etc. you are burning more calories than you would be if you were sitting the entire time.

Stock up for later
One thing that Tim and I and our friends love to do is stock up on lobster to bring home for later.  Once they announce that you can use your extra lobster tickets, we’re all in!  Stocking up on lobsters (yes we bring a cooler so they don’t go bad on the way home) is not only fun, but then you can make some yummy food with it later.  Like this recipe we made last year for a healthier lobster salad for lobster rolls. 

Lobsters

Lobster Rolls

Finally, I have one more tip for you guys…

Hit the Swings.
How could I forget?!  It’s sure to make you laugh, and laughing burns loads of calories.

swings

swings

What are your tips for eating healthy at a company picnic, outing, or event?

Happy almost picnic weekend, work friends!

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7 thoughts on “Tips for Navigating the Company Picnic

  1. All I could do when reading this post was laugh (although it was very informative) but my experience in the working world is SO pathetic as far as employers go, that the only company event we had was a 25 CENT annual raise. I wish I were kidding. Jealous you work for a company that does things like that!!!

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  2. I appreciate all of your healthy tips, but do not think it is the end of the world if you want to eat a bun with your burger, have some drawn butter with your mussels, or have more than a bite of fried dough. As a mom of five children (three of them daughters), I am concerned that they will model such restrictive eating. I believe in eating all things in moderation. Obviously organic, fresh whole foods are best, but a summer cook-out should be less about what food (groups) to avoid and more about having fun and enjoying the company and food, with out so much gulit. Summer is too short. Life is too short!

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    • Hi Stefania,
      I appreciate your feedback; however I do not want you to get the impression that I support or promote restrictive eating in any way. I agree with you that everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb (I say it all the time), and it most certainly is not the end of the world to have a bun with your burger.

      I did write these tips for those that are watching their weight or those looking for small ways to cut corners without feeling deprived. At no point did I recommend to steer clear of anything completely; however in my experience as a personal trainer and trained wellness coach it does help to go into situations where there are a lot of temptations with a plan of attack in mind. I don’t think most people would be able to do all 9 things I wrote about, but even if one or two tips helped someone make a healthier or more mindful choice during the day, then I feel like I’ve helped someone in their wellness journey.

      Hope this helps clarify my viewpoints. Thanks!

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  3. Pingback: Weekly Workouts {Sore Galore} | Fitness & Feta

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