Survive this year’s Labor Day BBQ with these strategies

If you’re getting together with friends and family on Monday to celebrate the Labor Day, chances are you’re going to come face-to-face with some familiar temptations. Bags of chips…trays of cookies…and, my personal kryptonite — ice cream. Somehow, they always find their way onto the picnic table.

But there’s one simple thing you can do on Sunday night to make it at least a little easier on yourself — and your willpower — on Monday.

Get a good night’s sleep

Turns out, people who are sleep-deprived have more trouble saying “no” to tempting foods.

That’s the finding from a recent study, presented at the annual SLEEP meeting hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

Researchers performed MRIs on 25 men and women while they looked at images of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Prior to the MRIs, volunteers were assigned to various sleep groups. For five nights, half the group got only four hours sleep per night. The others were allowed to sleep up to nine hours.

The sight of unhealthy food activated the brain’s reward centers in the sleep-deprived group. But it wasn’t just their brains that responded. In fact, the sleep-deprived group ate more food during the study too. The other group didn’t have that response.

I can’t think of an easier solution to controlling those urges — and losing more weight. So do yourself a favor, and head to bed early this weekend!

And it also can’t hurt to arrive at any BBQs you’re attending “armed” with healthy alternatives you know you can turn to when temptation hits.

Provide your own healthy options

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Or in this case, be the change you wish to see at the BBQ. Sometimes, the easiest way to curb an unhealthy habit is by bringing your own healthy options to the cookout.

And what better way to ring in Autumn than with a fall vegetable medley. It’s seasonal, delicious, and will fill you up without the regret. Here’s the guilt-free recipe:

Fall Vegetable Medley

Serves 6-8 people


  • ½ pound broccoli florets
  • ½ pound cauliflower florets
  • ½ pound Brussel’s sprouts
  • 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
  • ½ acorn squash, sliced and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup macadamia nut oil
  • Coarse sea salt


  1. Bring 5 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil.
  2. Cook each vegetable individually for 1 minute. Then rinse them under cold water for about 1 minute to stop the cooking process.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute until golden brown.
  5. Add the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes until heated thoroughly, stirring occasionally.
  6. Season with coarse sea salt.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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“Brain scans show specific neuronal response to junk food when sleep-restricted,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 6/10/12