Health: Help at hand so you can pick a healthier picnic

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With summer in full swing, Nev Staveley dishes out tips for a guilt-free picnic season.

So far, touch wood, this year’s summer has been impressive.

There’s been the odd shower, but there’s been plenty of sunshine too, and hopefully it’s set to continue.

And what better way to celebrate the glorious weather than with a picnic?

And yet, according to a recent survey by Pork Farm, around five million children in the UK have never been on a picnic.

If that’s not enough to make you scrabble to the back of the cupboard for that elusive blanket/plastic glass set/hamper, then nothing will.

Except, of course, ‘picnic guilt’ – the strange unnerving feeling that however lovely it is to be outside, it’s not quite so lovely when you’re eating your bodyweight in scotch eggs/getting sunburnt/generally being a bit unproductive.

But don’t worry, those niggles can be easily banished, just follow these tips for healthy and fruitful picnicking...

Banish over-eating guilt

Your ‘normal lunch’ is a sandwich. Your ‘picnic lunch’ is sausage rolls, vats of dips, crisps and “a few sweet things, just in case”.

It’s easy at picnics to just keep on delving into all of the packets and pots with no sense of what it’d actually look like all piled up on a plate.

So go stick to what’s on your plate and keep some sense of portion control.

Packing some crudites (raw carrot, cucumber sticks, chopped peppers) and some healthy dips before raiding the crisps is a good idea too.

Banish over-spending guilt

All those offers, all that food, and you’ve suddenly splashed a weekly food budget on one afternoon.

Before you buy, text your other picnic attendees to agree who’s buying what.

Banish lazy guilt

Avoid the temptation for picnic inertia by taking along a Frisbee, a rounders bat and ball, or even just a tennis ball for a game of catch.

Keep this up for half an hour and you’ve burnt a couple of hundred calories.

Banish lazy-brain guilt

It’s not all about physical laziness with al fresco dining – you also while away half a day and yet the book/newspaper you brought along remains completely untouched.

It’s a problem easily solved though; don’t take your culture on your picnic, take your picnic somewhere cultural.

Great examples include open-air cinemas, concerts and plays.

Banish social guilt

Everyone has that list of people they feel they “really must see”, but work/commuting/children/life inevitably gets in the way.

Which is where the picnic fairy godmother floats in and waves its ‘social life sorted’ wand.

Because while someone might be irked if you arranged to meet them for a drink in a pub and 25 other people were jammed round your table; they turn up at your picnic with 25 other people jammed on your blanket and they simply smile and shrug that more is merrier.

Banish too much booze guilt

We’re not trying to trample over your fun here, but we do suggest perhaps preparing a jug of Pimm’s at home rather than just slopping it in your glass when you’re there; and sometimes not slopping any Pimm’s in and just having a glass of lemonade.

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