How to Enjoy Memorial Day Cookouts Eating Real Food

“Hey, can you pass me those chips?”

I’m sure I’ll hear that about 10 times this Memorial Day weekend. I won’t be at a Paleo or SCD cookout and I doubt I’m alone.

When I grab that bag and toss it to my buddy, what goes through my head? In the past, I’ve had all kind of thoughts like…

“Agh, why do people actually eat these nasty things.”

“Oooh no, they smell so good, I want to eat the whole bag.”

“Don’t they understand that these little death squares are going to kill them?”

“Don’t make me touch it. Aghh, the flavor, the salsa, I need to put chip-to-mouth!!!”

I’m not bipolar, but reading those lines might give you that impression. 

That’s because it’s all out of context. The sun isn’t shining; the smell of gas, grease and summer isn’t filling your nostrils. You’re not reading this around 10 of your friends, most of who don’t eat real food.

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When you’re in that moment, things change, your thoughts and feelings change. You might never want to cheat on your diet, but mix enough environmental triggers and peer pressure together and a lot worse things have been done than eating a chip.

First, there’s the food… processed piles of weird meat bits rolled into a casing, stuffed into a “bun” of wheat and sugar, piled high with corn sugar dyed red.

Can You Remember How Good a Hot Dog tastes?

Next, there’s the drink. If your cookout is anything like mine, even the most moderate people end up “just having one”… whether it’s beer, a fruity drink, or a pop. Once again, I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s nice to be part of the group when someone yells from the cooler who wants one?

Lastly, there’s the conversation. “Little Mikey is doing so well these days, he doesn’t even throw his sugar pills fruit loops on the floor when he eats.” “Yeah Bob has diabetes now, so he can only have two cookies today.” And the inevitable, “How’s that weird diet you eat working for you?”

My problem in the past was thinking I needed to answer that question, or better yet jump down someone’s throat regarding their food choices (Bob – Put the Effing cookies down!!).

Nope, this year I’ll be practicing my breathing skills.

What will you do?

How to Avoid the Problems at Your Memorial Day Cookout

I’ve found 3 main areas that can ruin my happy days. Trust me, I’ve crashed and burned at enough cookouts over the last 3 years to tell you it’s not worth it. Whether you end up on the toilet all night or in a fight with a loved one about health, it’s not how you wanted Memorial Day to go.

I think there are 3 main steps to having a successful real food cookout. These 3 things work just as well for any family party. The best part is each of us holds the power to have it handled before we even get there. 

Step 1. Get Your Head Right

In the beginning of SCD, I had plenty of epic social failures. Whether I got into a heated conversation trying to help a loved one or if I succumbed to the treats surrounding me, there was always only one thing to blame: my mindset before the engagement was wrong.

If I walk into a room already jacked up because I just read a news report on sick people, it’s likely I would have tried to fix every person in that room (which of course they don’t want because we are all here to cook out and have fun). I also know if I walk into that party, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about cookouts of past, what I’m not going to eat today… then eating five brownies, hot dogs and drinking beer is about 30 seconds away.

What I hope you can learn from me is that getting your head clear and in the right place is the #1 thing to do. Think about things like: Are you happy that your health is even allowing you attend the party? Or walk to the door without help? Or hang out with people who love you? If you’re not, you should be! You have a lot to be thankful for, we all do.  It all comes back to this, be grateful for what you can do and don’t worry about the choices of others.

Step 2. Pre-Choose Your Options

This is another word for planning. I’m sure you’ve heard “Fail to plan, plan to fail” right?

You’re about to enter a world filled with food that smells amazing, that you can’t eat, but you remember eating, and your friends want you to eat because they don’t want to feel weird.

If that confused you, I apologize but read it again; the odds are stacked against you if you don’t make a choice. If you don’t already have your mind made up about what you’re going to do… the game’s over before it starts.

I’m talking about things like: What are you going to do when someone hands you an ice-cold beer? A margarita? If you haven’t already thought about putting it back in the cooler, going inside and getting yourself a glass of what you brought, then you’re probably in trouble.

If I even so much as entertain these offers because I think it would be rude not to, I’m a goner. Instead, make your mind up ahead of time for any situations like this. It’s not rude, don’t even entertain the thoughts, this is how you honor your body.

Step 3. Decide What’s Most Important to You

Lastly, are you going to this Memorial Day party to fix your friends and family? To save them from all digestive concerns and modern diseases? If you answered yes to this, you better make sure they know you’re preparing for an intervention. Because no one is ever really “happy” to be the recipient of an intervention. It’s just not an appreciated gift.

Also, are you in a position where you think you need to defend your choices to eat real food? I don’t think so. It’s your choice. You don’t need to justify it to anyone. Even your sweet family members who want to help – “nope sorry that subject is off limits today.”

Know ahead of time what the most important aspect of the day is to you. Is it to hang with your friends and remember the good ole days? Show your mom that you care for her? Enjoy your family and relax? Any and all of these are perfect and important. Choose one that empowers you and release the rest of those negative thoughts to fully enjoy the day.

I hope you can do it.

Have You Struggled in the Past?

Or are worried about it going forward? I understand. Whether it’s taking business trips, happy hours, or family parties, social events can induce anxiety and stomach pain before they even start.

(Let alone actually cheating in the moment.)

I want you to know that you don’t need to turn these events down and you don’t need to worry sick about going to them. Believe it or not, you can travel, hangout and enjoy yourself more than ever now that you’re looking after your health.

Jordan and I have put together our best tips, tricks and lessons, as we’ve crisscrossed the country over the last few years. We’ve put them together for you in our Social Butterfly Class. If this is a source of frustration for you, this course could give you your old life back.

Check it out here >>> live a normal life again.

Have fun at your cookouts this summer… and tell me below, what goes through your head when you have to pass the chips?


Steven Wright

About Steven Wright

Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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7 thoughts on “How to Enjoy Memorial Day Cookouts Eating Real Food

  1. Avatar
    Kathy Ellenberger says:

    I read the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Last night I read it for the 3rd or 4th time. Each time I find something I did “wrong”, but I am really trying! I have been on the GAPS/SCD since March 5th (about 2 1/2 months now. I have been very faithful! I have had horrible gas throughout the last couple of weeks worse than usual. I had diarrhea for 3 days after eating something “bad” one day. My first real cheat (potato chips and guacamole). I keep thinking my gut should settle down. I am going on a cruise in July and hoped to be MUCH better by then! I go back to the Intro Diet each time I feel bad, for several days. I was tested for Celiac’s and do not have it. I am making homemade yogurt every couple of days. I eat/drink it for breakfast. I haven’t had any sauerkraut yet. I’ve made my homemade chicken broth and have it for lunch. I am diabetic and my blood sugar numbers have been great. I thought I had a bladder infection or something but didn’t. I have ketosis however. I have read so many “scientific” articles that contradict each other. I am 5′ 1″ and weighed 138 pounds at the beginning. I just hit 118 yesterday. I am not even trying, but I can’t eat much of anything when I get diarrhea. I feel really frustrated and worried.

    • Avatar

      Hi Kathy,
      Your story sounds a lot like mine!! I felt that I should have been much better than I was after 2 months on the diet too. When you go back on the intro diet do you feel better after the 3 days? I am by no means an expert on this diet, but I have read as much I can on SCD lifestyle (Jordan and Steve) the blog, the podcasts, emails and they suggest taking a enzyme with each meal(I got mine from GIprohealth – prozyme, they actually have an SCD starter kit that I would recommend. It has a multi vitamin, prozyem and a probiotic) and that has helped. My problem is I am not as consistent as I should be with all of them. I didn’t do the dairy, I just did the probiotic instead and being off dairy (except for hard cheeses that are legal on SCD) has helped tremendously!! I know what you mean about conflicting “studies” and science – it is hard to decipher what is true and what is not. I think if you can get to a place where you feel better, that is all that matters. I do believe that the SCD helped me tremendously and having “cheated” I can tell a huge difference! Consult with them to be sure, but I would try no dairy and incorporate a digestive enzyme and a probiotic. Also, ultimately, the diet needs to be tailored to you since everyone is different and even Elaine Gottschall said there is a small percentage that the diet does not work for, but I hesitate to even say that, because there is so much truth to the biology that she presented. Best of luck!! Hope things work out before your cruise!

  2. Avatar

    What we have to realize is that we think about our own food choices a LOT more than the other people at the party do. Part of my memory of offering people cupcakes and stuff when I wasn’t sick is that if they said no, I was the one who felt kind of self-conscious. I respected that the other person didn’t want a cupcake and felt a little pushy. So everyone there is really thinking mainly about themselves, not about how awful and offensive your diet is. And if someone makes fun of your diet, it’s because they know that they could never get themselves to do it. They aren’t truly concerned one way or the other. The desire to preach to our friends about the diet comes from either idealism (I can make everybody I know healthier!) or insecurity (I have to defend my choice because it makes me look superstitious or uptight). Usually, though, people don’t even realize you’re different from them. If you keep quiet it’s amazing how few questions you’ll get about it.

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