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

If you’re a reluctant picnicker, follow our tips for picnicking guilt-free…

Banish over-eating guilt

Your ‘normal lunch’ is a sandwich. Your ‘picnic lunch’ is sausage rolls (3 for 2 offer), vats of dips (3 for 2 offer), crisps (3 for 2 offer) and ‘a few sweet things, just in case’ (3 for 2 offer).

[Related story: 5 of Britain’s best coastal picnic spots for a splendid seaside spread]

Of course, a picnic should be a special event, and everyone needs some treats in their life. But it’s easy at picnics to just keep delving on in to packets/pots with no sense of what it’d actually look like all lined up. So go fancy; stick to what’s on your (paper) crockery and keep some sense of (pro)portion.

Banish over-spending guilt

In the same vein as over-eating picnic guilt, comes over-spending guilt. All those offers, all that ‘just in case’ food, you’ve suddenly splashed a weekly food budget on one afternoon.

It might sound a little organisational overkill for what’s meant to be a spontaneous and easy activity, but before you buy, text your other picnic attendees to agree who’s buying what. Not only will you end up spending less, you’ll also not have to nibble your way through eight packets of sesame breadsticks.

Banish lazy guilt

You’ve battled through the crowds, you’re the right distance from the park toilets; and for the rest of the afternoon, you’re not moving from your perfect spot… Avoid the temptation for picnic inertia by taking along a Frisbee, a rounders bat, or even just a tennis ball.

Instilled from childhood/evolution, it’s very hard to resist seeing a ball and not ‘having a quick throw’. 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/something else clever you brought along remains completely untouched.

[Related story: Vegan chocolate brownies recipe proves healthy eating can still be indulgent]

It’s a problem easily solved though; don’t take your culture on your picnic, take your picnic somewhere cultural, ie, one of the open-air cinemas, concerts and plays across the nation every the summer.

Banish social guilt

Everyone has that list of people ‘I 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 shrug that ‘more is merrier’.

Banish too much booze guilt

The pros of picnic alcohol (cheaper than a bar, bigger measures than a bar, no having to wait to be served at a bar) quickly descend into cons; ie, you’re drunk very quickly.

Add to that the fact you’ve (in theory) got the sun shining and you’re a bit dehydrated, and it’s game over.

We’re not trying to trample over your fun here, but we do suggest perhaps pre-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.

Banish sugar for goodness

No picnic is complete without a sweet send off, but try swapping your sugar-laden cakes or ice creams for healthier alternatives.

If chocolate is your weakness, go for dark chocolate or cacao instead. Ombar has a range of fun-sized buttons which are dairy-free and 100% organic cacao; if the kids like jelly-style sweets, swap them for Bear's Safari Paws, pure fruit shapes that count towards one of your five a day.

Or, pack a load of coconut flakes for everyone to nibble on throughout the day. Just try not to eat the whole bag, k?

Share your healthy picnic tips in the Comments box below.