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Healthier picnics

With lockdown restrictions easing and the sun (hopefully) coming out, it’s a great time to meet with friends and family outdoors to enjoy a picnic.

But as fun as they can be, picnics can make it harder to manage how much you eat. And there might be some less healthy food options like sausage rolls, crisps, cakes and mayonnaise-filled sandwiches. 

Occasional treats shouldn’t affect your diabetes management too much, and we all need some occasions to look forward to now restrictions are easing. But over time too many unhealthy foods can affect your blood glucose levels and overall diabetes management.

We’ve compiled some suggestions for healthy picnic food, to make it easier to enjoy healthier options and keep your food choices on track. 

You’ll also find some great, healthy picnic food ideas that are right at home on a chequered blanket.

Enjoying healthier picnic food

  • Choose wholegrain varieties of starchy carbs such as brown rice or wholewheat pasta in salads and wholegrain bread for sandwiches. Leave the skin on new potatoes for some added fibre too. 
  • For cold meats, try leaner options such as chicken or turkey breast rather than salami or ham.
  • Add crunch to sandwiches with extra veggies such as pepper, carrot, cucumber and lettuce.
  • Use beans and pulses in a salad to up the protein content and to make it more filling.
  • Swap sugary and fatty treats such as cake and crisps for healthier alternatives – mixed nuts, fruit, popcorn and unsweetened yogurts make great replacements.
  • Sip on water flavoured with mint, lemon or fresh fruit like berries to stay hydrated.
  • Make your own dips, dressings and marinades from scratch at home to avoid the potentially high fat, sugar and salt content from shop-bought varieties.
  • From playing games to going for a walk, combine your picnic with some physical activity to maximise the health benefits.

Picnic recipe ideas

Why not try something new for your next picnic? Our recipe suggestions below have all been nutritionally analysed by dietitians, and are great options for a healthy, balanced diet.

Scandinavian pickled cucumber and salad sandwich

This tasty open sandwich has three green traffic lights and counts as one portion of your five-a-day. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect your heart.

Vegetable crisps

Our vegetable crisps are much lower in fat and salt than shop-bought crisps, and you’d be surprised how easy they are to make at home.

Harissa tomato tarts

These delicious tarts are sure to be popular at your next picnic, and are a great healthy picnic food option, as they’re low in saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Healthy hummus

Hummus is another great option as it’s a good source of fibre, which is important for digestive health. Our recipe is lower in fat than supermarket options.

Have a look at some more of our picnic food favourites:

Picnic safety tips

  • Reduce the opportunity for bacteria to multiply by keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Salads, dairy foods, cooked meats and rice-based salads, in particular, should be kept cool until needed. Be careful they aren’t left in direct sunlight. If you haven’t yet got one, invest in a cool bag and maybe some ice blocks too - they can be bought from most supermarkets. Be mindful about how long items are kept out of the fridge. 
  • Keep the number of times a food bag or container is opened to a minimum to reduce contamination as the temperature will rise.
  • Rinse fresh fruit and veg under running tap water at home before packing them.
  • Hot weather brings with it the risk of dehydration – drink plenty of water, no-added sugar squashes or diet drinks. If you’re drinking alcohol, stick to safe drinking guidelines and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
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