Healthy Tips For Summer Cookouts

Family having a barbecue party in their garden in summerHappy Fourth of July! With hot dogs, hamburgers and s’mores being a staple at all summer cookouts, it can be hard to stay on track when it comes to healthy eating. But that doesn’t have to mean you have to turn down invites or throw healthy eating out the window. July is National Grill Month and what better way to celebrate than by sharing some tips on how to stay healthy during BBQ season!

First, think lean protein. Opt for grilled chicken or fish over hot dogs which don’t contain enough protein to hold you over. Burgers are an okay choice but make sure you choose a lean beef with a low amount of fat, and don’t choose a burger every time you grill. Opt for healthier options whenever possible.

Second, fill your plate with healthy options first. Don’t start by filling your plate with the potato salad; start by adding salad, grilled veggies, baked beans or other healthy options. This will ensure that you fill up in nutrient-dense foods while still getting a taste of the sides you enjoy such as macaroni and cheese. Also, be mindful of portions. Meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand, a fist is equal to a cup, so choose that amount when grabbing veggies, and the amount of condiments you use should be around the size of your thumb. Knowing how to eye-ball portion sizes is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Third, bring a healthy dish to contribute. The more healthy options there are the easier it will be to stay on track. Bring a tray of cut-up raw veggies with homemade dip, or a napa cabbage salad, or even a seven bean salad. One of my favorite healthy foods is grilled asparagus. You can throw them on the grille with a little salt and Parmesan cheese and you have a perfect healthy side.

Fourth, eat before you go. People always make this mistake. They arrive to a party starving and then end up gorging on potato chips and junk food to fill themselves up.  Arriving shortly after eating will allow you taste everything at the party without totally destroying your diet.

Fifth, keep alcohol to a minimum. Alcohol, especially beer, is calorie dense and will increase your waist line. Make a pact with yourself to only drink once a week, even when you have special events.

Sixth, stay hydrated. Dehydrated can be mistaken for hunger. Keep water on you at all times. This will help to keep you full and prevent you from munching.

Seventh, opt for healthy dessert options. S’mores are a fun treat at cookouts, but leave them for the kids. Instead, try grilling some fruit. It’s high in fiber to hold you over.

Hopefully you found these tips helpful for enjoying BBQ’s and cookouts all summer long. Now, lets eat!

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