Summer’s almost here, and you’re probably excited about getting back out for barbecues with friends and family. One downside is that barbecue season, like the holidays, isn’t exactly an easy time for the waistline or for anyone looking to stick to a diet. Does this mean you have to cut back on barbeques or suffer through them with just a celery stick and a glass of water? Not at all! You can enjoy both the food and the fun! Here are 6 tips for making healthy choices at summer BBQs!
Select Leaner Meats
Grilled meat is the centerpiece of many a barbeque, and beef is the most popular choice. Instead of going with fatty selections, try leaner options like top sirloin, tenderloin, top round (London broil), and 96% lean (or leaner) ground beef. Some of those cuts are among the tastiest, but if you think others are lacking something, get to work with seasoning and marinades! Another way to go about making healthy choices at summer BBQs is to cut back is to trim visible fat and marbling from the edges before grilling.
Other lean but tasty meat choices are skinless chicken, ground turkey breast, salmon, and trout. The fish also contain beneficial fatty acids that are good for the heart and the brain.
Go with Whole Grains
Choosing whole-grain buns for your burgers and hot dogs helps you cut back, too, and digestion is better. If you’re doing pasta salads, try whole-wheat pasta or mix it 50-50 with “regular” pasta if you’re worried about losing flavor. Other great whole grains to consider include quinoa, couscous, and barley.
Include Fruits and Vegetables
You might be surprised at how many people welcome alternatives to filling, fatty foods at barbeques. If you’re the host, pleasantly surprise guests with an assortment of fruits and vegetables. If you’re a guest, include them in what you bring to the party.
Fruit and vegetable trays accompanied by dips are always well received, but you’re not limited to just them. Fruit at the dessert table, grilled vegetables, and smoothies all add healthy, delicious variety.
Choose Your Beverages Wisely
Okay, we know that many people enjoy beer and wine at barbeques, so we’re not going to suggest that those who do should go without, but we do suggest moderation. In addition to the dangers of driving under the influence and detrimental health effects, these beverages are high in calories and sugars. Enjoy them, but in moderation.
As to other beverages, sweet tea, lemonade, and soda might seem to hit the spot, but they’re high in sugar and calories, too. But going back to something we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to sit there with a plain old glass of water. You can add a lot of flavor to water with cucumber or fruit slices (nectarines, oranges, peaches, and strawberries are all great choices). Another refreshing option is unsweetened iced tea.
Fill Your Plate Carefully
You already know that your stomach can be full well before your brain tells you so, which leads to overeating and, not uncommonly, discomfort. When you fill up your plate, you don’t have to skip things you like; just choose less of everything than your eyes are telling you to. If you’re still hungry after you finish, wait around 20 minutes to see if your body really does want seconds.
After eating, go for a walk around the yard or the neighborhood, or play a game. Cornhole, volleyball, and badminton are all great backyard games. In addition to burning some calories, you’ll be spending less time eating (and possibly overeating). Plus, the activity helps with good metabolism.
The above are all relatively simple steps you can take to fully enjoy the barbeque days and nights of summer without messing up your dietary goals or putting on unwanted weight. Relish the long days and the pleasant nights. Cheers, and bon appetit!