Six tips for a healthy summer picnic

Health Adviser and Nutritionist at Bupa UK
04 July 2017

This week marks the start of Wimbledon, and around 450,000 spectators will descend on SW19 for one of the world’s most famous sporting events. For many of them, tucking into some traditional British fare will be part of the experience. Between them, they’re expected to purchase on-site over 320,000 glasses of Pimms, more than 76,000 sandwiches and over 28 tonnes of strawberries!

A bowl of strawberries on a picnic blanket

Whether you’re lucky enough to be heading to Henman Hill yourself, or you’re just having a lazy day in the local park, here are my top tips for serving up a healthy summer picnic.

Sandwiches

When you’re preparing your sandwiches, use wholegrain, high-fibre bread. This often has more nutrients and will make you feel fuller for longer. If you’re not so keen on brown bread, why not try sandwich alternatives such as lettuce wraps, wholemeal pitta bread, corn or rice cakes with some of your favourite fillings? Rather than butter, go for lower-fat spread to help reduce your intake of saturated fat.

Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and pork pies

All of these contain processed meat, which could increase your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer if there’s too much of it in your diet. So enjoy these snacks in moderation. Out of these three picnic favourites, scotch eggs tend to be the lowest in saturated fat, and pork pies the highest. But products do vary, so check the labels on the packet when shopping for your picnic. If you’re trying to stay healthy but scotch eggs are a must for the picnic basket, why not try BBC Good Food’s lighter scotch egg recipe?

Quiche

A staple of the great British picnic, but unfortunately not a very healthy one! These tend to be really high in salt, sugar and fat. In fact, some shop-bought quiches can have more than half of your daily saturated fats in one serving! For a healthier option, you could make your own ‘crustless quiche’, which cuts back on some of the fat. There are plenty of recipes online – have a search and see if any take your fancy!

Crisps

As the courses come and go, it’s all too easy to graze absent-mindedly on crisps. But did you know that some leading brands of crisps are almost one-third fat by weight? Just a couple of packs will contain almost a third of your daily recommended intake of fat. If you’re after some healthier snacks that still pack a crunch, chop up some raw carrots, peppers and celery and enjoy with a low-fat, yoghurt-based dip.

Strawberries and cream

A Wimbledon classic and a favourite for picnickers in the summer months, when strawberry season is in full swing. The good news is that strawberries are packed full of vital nutrients. They’re rich in vitamin C (which maintains muscle, bone and skin), folate (which helps to prevent anaemia) and potassium. Just one cup of strawberries is one of your five-a-day.

It won’t surprise you to learn that the cream is not so healthy! If you tend to have double cream on your strawbs, you can probably halve the amount of saturated fats by switching to single cream. Or you could swap the cream for Greek-style yoghurt, with a splash of vanilla extract or honey. Try this with your other favourite fruits as well, in a salad or on skewers.

And don’t be tempted by that sprinkle of sugar ... they’re sweet enough!

Sparkling wine

Whether you’ve splashed out for champers or settled for prosecco, there’s a chance a chilled glass of sparkling wine will feature somewhere in your picnic. The fizz may take away some of the ‘alcohol taste’, but it’s important to remember that sparkling wine can be just as strong as other wines. In fact, four (125ml) glasses of champagne will take you close to half of your recommended weekly alcohol intake. Finishing your glass, rather than topping up, will help you to keep track of how much you’ve had, and alternating with water or soft drinks means you won’t drink too much too quickly.  For a refreshing, healthy, non-alcoholic alternative, try this ginger and elderflower summer cup from the Telegraph.




Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Emily Walters
Health Adviser and Nutritionist at Bupa UK

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