July 4: Declare Your Independence from Shame

Plan ahead and enjoy yourself!

July 4

Two hundred forty years ago tomorrow, on July 4, our country declared itself free of another country that was hostile to our best interests. Did you hear that, Mr. President? Oh wait—this is a blog about shame and food and all that. Sorry.

Okay, back to the subject. Tomorrow will be the first official holiday of the summer. Backyard barbecues—the obligatory hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, beer, and soda. But are they really obligatory? Let’s talk.

It’s a holiday, for God’s sakes. You don’t want to be sitting in a corner munching on celery sticks.  But that doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily want to eat a platter of burgers, dogs, chips, potato salad and wash it down with four beers and top it off with cherry pie à la mode. Or, maybe that’s exactly what you want to do. Here’s our point: it’s your choice.

Here’s our other point: don’t be ambushed. Don’t finish the second hot dog and just mindlessly reach for a third. The party you’re at is not a surprise party for you. You have a calendar, and you knew when July 4 was coming and what you’d be doing that day. Our over-arching recommendation when it comes to eating is a simple one: plan ahead and then enjoy yourself.

Don’t sabotage yourself by arriving at a party, seeing a vast array of delicious-looking unhealthy food, and rolling up your sleeves to dig in. You’ll consume an enormous number of calories that way, you’re likely to be filling your body with crap—and, most of all, you’re going to feel bad about yourself at the end of the day.

So declare your independence—your independence from going down the rabbit hole of mindless gorging that is always followed by self-recrimination and misery. Let’s talk strategic options:

  • Plan what you’re going to eat before you even get to the party. One burger? One handful of chips? A taste of potato salad? A piece of pie? Two? One beer? Three glasses of wine? It’s your decision.
  •  Offer to be a considerate guest and bring something to the party. You can bring a healthy, delicious dip, such as the ones we’re including below, or salsa or guacamole – but also bring vegetables to go along with it (see our list of favorite crudités below as well).  It’s not as though the guacamole comes glued to tortilla chips or something.
  • Before you even leave your house to go to the party, fill up on something healthy like salad or vegetable soup.
  • What if you haven’t the vaguest idea what will be served at the party? Then just guess what categories of food there might be and how much you’ll eat from each category.  For example, you want to allow yourself to have unlimited raw vegetables, but less meat and refined starches and sugars (such as chips and pie).
  • When you get to the party, further refine your game plan. As you’re filling up on carrot sticks perhaps, you survey the scene and make your final plan. Are there healthier options to choose from that you would like? Is there grilled salmon as well as grilled hot dogs? Is there salsa as well as the gloppy, creamy stuff for dips? Do you want to plan on sharing a dessert with someone?

Plan what you’re going to eat, eat just that amount, enjoy every single bite, and then congratulate yourself for staying with your plan.  Think about prior years when a holiday seemed to be only about the food, and then you ate until you were sick and then hated yourself.  What kind of holiday is that?  You may be delighted to find that there’s been a paradigm shift: you’re eating what you want to eat, but you’ve changed the meaning of what you want to eat.

This paradigm shift has affected both of us profoundly. We are both pretty anxious people. But we’re not anxious food anymore. And that feels simply incredible.


Recipe Ideas

Here are a couple of recipes for healthy dips that we love:

White Bean Dip

  •  2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil (or parsley or cilantro, or a combination)
  •  2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • A little salt & pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine the beans, oil and garlic; process until smooth
  2. Add the basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; process until blended. Serve with crudités (&/or pita chips)

Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip)

  •  1/2  large cucumber, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 cups plain full-fat (or, if you prefer, low-fat) Greek yogurt
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt (optional)
  •  1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill


  1. Grate the cucumber and drain through a fine mesh sieve refrigerate overnight. If you don’t have time to do that, then use a cloth or paper towel to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. 
  2. Combine the yogurt, garlic, oil, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight (if you have time).
  3. Add the grated cucumber and fresh dill to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Serve chilled crudités.

J&J’s Favorite Crudités:

  • Jicama slices
  • Red, green, yellow, orange pepper slices
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Lightly steamed and cooled vegetables such as:
    • String beans
    • Cauliflower
    • Broccoli

We hope you have a wonderful Fourth — let us know how it went!