Healthy Eating Tips for Summer BBQs

How to Eat Healthy at Cookouts and BBQs

Vegetables barbecue

It’s harder in the summer to eat healthy and on track with your health and fitness goals. We tend to think of it as a relaxing time where we vacation, lay by the pool and get caught up on our summer reading. In actuality, summer tends to be a frenzied race from camp to sporting events to a seemingly endless number of parties and BBQs. Here are a few tips to stay healthy on track during the crazy (and wonderful) summer months:

Don’t treat it as an exception if it’s the rule

Even though we will probably go to many BBQ’s this summer, we still tend to act as if each one is a unique celebration and perhaps the last time that we will see hot dogs, coleslaw and 7-layer dip ever again. So we put on our party hats, overindulge and then do the same thing at the next BBQ three days later. This year I want you to remember that there will always be more BBQs and more opportunities to have your favorite treats. If you wouldn’t have an appetizer of potato chips, a double cheeseburger main course, followed by a 2 cupcake dessert every night at home, you don’t need to have it at every BBQ throughout the summer!

Remember your veggies

There’s usually a lack of healthy vegetable dishes at BBQs, which is a shame because they are the most delicious in the summer! So, offer to bring veggie kabobs to the next BBQ, Even at home, throw a few on your own grill and use them as a side for the rest of the week. Grilling vegetables causes them to caramelize and lose the bitter taste that a lot of kids (and adults) dislike.
Consider re-exposing your picky eaters to some grilled veggies during the summer. You may find that what was an absolute “no” last winter is now something they enjoy!

Pay attention to your position

Where you situate yourself at a summer BBQ can have the biggest impact on the amount that you eat. If you are within arm’s reach of the chip bowl, you may find yourself constantly eating just because it’s there. Make yourself a small plate with a few of your favorites and find a spot on the other side of the yard. If you really want seconds, please go back and enjoy. It’s important that it’s a conscious, mindful decision rather than snacking just because it’s there.

Choose starchy carbs, alcohol OR dessert

The core components of a summer BBQ aren’t actually that bad for you. It tends to be some sort of grilled protein and perhaps some fruit or salad. If we stopped there we would be in great shape! However, it’s all of those “other” things that seem to get us in trouble. Moreover, those “other” things such as chips, pasta salad, buns, cocktails and dessert are mostly high glycemic sugars and much more likely to be stored as fat. Instead of having a trifecta of sugars, choose to have just one and fill up on a healthy meal of protein, veggies and water. The extra step will get you to choose what you REALLY will enjoy and help you stay on track.

Now that you know a few simple tricks for eating healthy at summer parties and BBQs, you can have all the fun without the regret of having eaten too much of the wrong foods!

Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist with a private practice in San Diego, CA. She speaks nationally on the topics of health and nutrition and has been cited as a nutrition expert by media such as NBC, FOX, SELF, Cosmopolitan and Dr. Oz The Good Life. Download her FREE 4 Step Nutrition Quick Start Guide and start feeling better today!

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