Ideal Fireworks, Part 1

By Karen D.

July 4th is just around the corner and, if you are like most Americans, there is a barbecue, picnic, or cookout in your near future. It’s not entirely clear to me why we grill slabs of meat and hot dogs, and drown ourselves in beer and sugary beverages to celebrate our country’s independence; but according to the country’s leading barbecue trade association, Fourth of July is the nations’ most popular outdoor cooking holiday. According to Statistics Brain, 80% of people (presumably Americans) attend cookouts on the 4th of July.

That’s a lot of hot dogs. In fact, “It’s the single biggest weekend for hot dog sales” according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. About 150 million hot dogs are sold over the July 4th weekend.

I love Fourth of July. The smells of sun tan lotion and burgers on the grill. The sounds of children playing and adults laughing. The feel of cool water and late afternoon sun. And the sight of fireworks – the bursting and cascading of all those colorful lights against the dark sky. It’s a sensory feast.

Unfortunately, the edible temptations of this sensory feast can overwhelm even the most diligent dieter. We, the people, want to enjoy the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the burden of excess weight, low energy, and insulin intolerance. But what’s an Ideal Protein Phase 1 dieter or Ideal Lifestyler to do?

Revolt and declare independence from our old habits and temptations. Let’s break free from the standard American diet. Let’s stand united in our commitment to overcome the obesity epidemic. No to Coke and Pepsi. No to Kraft. You can’t control our minds with your brain washing advertising.

So in the spirit of July 4th, we make this Declaration of Independence from the Tyranny of Temptation:

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all foods are not created equal.

That we the people have the right to serve and/or eat healthy foods at our cookouts.

That although mankind is more disposed to suffer than change old habits, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off the old guard and prepare for their future health and wellness.

Here are some suggestions on how you can carry out the revolution and break free of the temptations that await you this 4th of July.

Focus on the purpose for the celebration. Holidays often revolve around food. Turkey on Thanksgiving, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans on Easter, and cookouts on July 4th, just to name a few. But there’s a lot more to a holiday than food. Gratitude on Thanksgiving, rebirth and renewal on Easter, and of course, the birth of our nation on the 4th of July.   Focus on the meaning of the July 4th holiday with flags and fireworks, instead of hotdogs and Doritos. Make a tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence. Decorate your bikes with red, white, and blue streamers. Go to a parade. Remember, it’s not all about the food.

Make Substitutions. Of course you have to eat, and cookouts are fun. That doesn’t mean you have to forego your health, or even cheat on Phase 1. You can grill veggies and forego the nitrate filled hot dogs. You can grill lean grass fed steaks and forego the burger bun. Bring out the BBQ crispy chips and skip the dip. How about the cherry jello for a festive dessert. Rice crispy treats with red and blue sprinkles were popular when I was growing up, so why not have a vanilla rice crispy square (but leave the sprinkles for the kids).

Drink plenty of water. It’s usually pretty hot on July 4th, at least here in Washington, DC. Drinking water is your best bet for beating the heat. Put a strawberry and a couple blueberries on the stirrer to make it festive. Or buy some red and blue freezer cubes to keep your water nice and cool. If you’ve got your hand on a glass, it’s less likely to be in the chip bowl.

Bring your Own. If you’re lucky enough to be going to someone else’s cookout, bring along something you can eat and share. You’ll know there’s something that conforms to Phase 1, and your host will welcome the contribution. Who doesn’t like Janeva’s crackslaw, or a tossed salad filled with healthy select veggies. If you’re in Phase 4, bring a big bowl of strawberries and blueberries.

Distract yourself by being active. What’s more American than baseball (don’t say apple pie). Get up a game of whiffle ball. How about croquette, bocce, or badminton? Horse shoes anyone? There are so many backyard games to choose from. Try corn hole, can/can, or that one with the balls on a rope.   Be an organizer and get the gang together for tug of war or a sack race. I promise these games will be more memorable than what’s on the grill, and they can easily become your new July 4th tradition.

It’s all about Family and Friends. Forget the food, and focus on your family and friends. If you spend the holiday with extended family, ask the older folks to tell how they celebrated the 4th when they were children. Ask the kids what makes the 4th special for them. Roasting s’mores counts as long as the emphasis is on the activity as opposed to the sugar surge. Get together with the same family members and/or friends each year. Enjoy the togetherness and traditions you create, and let the food be secondary.

Let us know how you plan to celebrate the 4th. What are your non-edible traditions?

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