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As we approach a summer full of weekends, many already dream of enjoyable picnics in nature. More often than not, these trips into nature go hand in hand with pizzas, barbecued meats and lots of snacks. Such a weekend trip can therefore pose a real challenge for healthy eating enthusiasts and those who are on a diet. So, how can you stay focused on your goals, resist temptations and maintain a balanced diet?
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"During your weekends, I advise you to relax, enjoy the company of your friends and to not overdo it. You can still eat a lot of your favorite products, you just have to use a couple simple tricks," says Neringa Jermalaite, Sports Club Manager at Lemon Gym. In this article she gives some useful tips for planning and preparing food for your time away in nature and what you can do to avoid fatty, high-calorie foods.

Marinate meat yourself

"When you are planning to cook meat on a grill, it is best to buy the unmarinated kind. In general, pre-marinated meats from the store will contain a lot of sugar. I advise you to spend 10 minutes and prepare a marinade yourself, simply by using a mix of oil and spices. After all, when cooking the meat on the grill, the smell of smoke already adds a lot of flavor," states Jermalaite.

Even when marinating meat at home, the Sports Program Manager believes it is best to avoid mayonnaise and ketchup. Instead, the meat can be marinated with mineral water, citrus fruit or grated onion. You could also use kefir, apple, or wine vinegar for the base of your marinade.

Only pick quality sausages

Often, instead of shashliks, people grilling like to pamper themselves with sausages, prepared on a fire. But note, these sausages usually contain a lot of unnecessary additives and fats that do not have a place in a healthy diet.

"It would be best if you make the sausages yourself. In that way, you can know for sure what they are made of. On the other hand, if you prefer buying sausages, choose the best kind, made from high quality products, with the least number of additives. Always carefully read the composition of the product," suggests Jermalaite.

Do not overcook your meat

"Although many people say that blackened food is healthy, meat that has been burnt too much can damage our body and heightens the risk of tumors. Therefore, it is very important not to overcook the meat, especially when grilling on a fire. The meat should be cooked well, but not be burnt," says Jermalaite.

Provide vegetables

"It is the season for vegetables. That is why it is important to combine all your meat dishes with as many vegetables as you can. Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers – these vegetables do not require any special preparation, but they are delicious and healthy nevertheless. It is advisable to eat as many fresh vegetables as possible and to consume them more than grilled dishes," says the Sports Program Manager. In addition, fresh vegetables are perfect for cooking on a grill. Before cooking the vegetables you can douse them with olive oil and sprinkle Mediterranean herbs on them. Then simply fry them for a couple of minutes until nice and brown.

An alternative to ketchup

Most people cannot imagine shashlik without ketchup. However, most sauces you would buy in the store will contain a lot of sugar.

"Instead of ketchup, you can could opt for a concentrated tomato paste. Although its shelf life is considerably shorter, it is a healthier product. You could also use this tomato paste to marinate your meat," recommends Jermalaite.

The best drink on the weekend is water

"While enjoying the most delicious grilled dishes, do not forget to drink a lot of water. You can spice things up, and season your water with mint, lemon or orange slices or any of your other favorite fruits. Although many people like to enjoy their weekend with light alcoholic beverages, I recommend choosing a non-alcoholic beer that contains less sugar than soft drinks," says N. Jermalaite.

Planning ahead

"If you are on a diet, I advise you to plan ahead. Get a list of products and buy everything in the store before you leave for your trip. It is also possible to plan for all your meals by preparing a breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule beforehand. This is especially convenient for those people with children.

Of course, we will somehow deviate from the usual rhythm, but with the plan of such a plan we will avoid unnecessary purchases, which are usually very sweet and unhealthy," says the Sports Program Manager.

Return to the rhythm

N. Jermalaite observes that an average person who is more relaxed over the weekend, will find it harder to return to their regular sports routine during the week. "Some feel guilty that they relaxed and then find it difficult to get back to working out." Restricting yourself on weekends, however, is not the solution. Instead it is better to relax on the weekend so that we can feel extra motivated to follow our diet and training plans again during the week," concludes the Sports Program Manager.