How to eat healthy at a summer BBQ

Summer BBQs are a time for fun, family, and delicious food, but they can also be a challenge for anyone trying to maintain a healthy diet. The good news is that with a little planning and mindful choices, you can enjoy your BBQ favorites without derailing your health goals.

I asked out nutritionist to put together a comprehensive guide on how to eat healthy at BBQ’s this summer. Here’s what he wants you to do…

Plan Ahead

Know the Menu

If you can, find out what will be served before you arrive. This will allow you to mentally prepare and decide what healthy options you can look forward to.

Bring a Healthy Dish

One of the best ways to ensure there’s something healthy to eat is to bring a nutritious dish to share. Consider a vibrant vegetable salad, a quinoa-based dish, or a platter of fresh fruits. Not only will this guarantee you have a healthy option, but it might also inspire others to make healthier choices.

Mindful Eating Strategies

Start with Veggies

When you start filling your plate, head for the vegetable options first. Fill half your plate with colorful, nutrient-dense vegetables and salads before adding other items. This strategy ensures you’re getting plenty of vitamins and fiber while leaving less room for less healthy choices.

Portion Control

Be mindful of your portion sizes, especially with high-calorie items like burgers, sausages, and desserts. Using a smaller plate can help you control portions and prevent overeating. Remember, you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.

Eat Slowly

Take your time to savor each bite. Eating slowly allows your body to register fullness, helping you avoid overeating. Plus, you’ll enjoy the flavors and the social experience more.

Smart Protein Choices

Grilled Options

Opt for grilled proteins like chicken, fish, or lean meats over fried or processed options. Grilling is a healthier cooking method that doesn’t require added fats and often results in delicious, flavorful dishes.

Plant-Based Proteins

Incorporate plant-based proteins into your meal. Options like bean salads, veggie burgers, or grilled tofu are nutritious and can be just as satisfying as meat-based dishes. They are also often lower in saturated fats and calories.

Navigating Sides and Sauces

Healthy Sides

Choose sides like grilled vegetables, quinoa salads, or fresh fruit over creamy potato salads or macaroni and cheese. These healthier sides are packed with nutrients and are lower in calories and unhealthy fats.

Sauces and Dressings

Be cautious with sauces and dressings, which can be hidden sources of sugar, fat, and calories. Use them sparingly or choose lighter alternatives like vinaigrettes or yogurt-based dressings. You can also make your own healthier versions at home.

Hydration and Beverages

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is especially important during hot summer days. Drink plenty of water throughout the event to keep hydrated and help control hunger. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking.

Limit Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened cocktails can add a significant amount of empty calories to your day. Choose water, seltzer, or unsweetened iced tea instead. If you want something more festive, try infusing water with fruits like lemon, lime, or berries for a refreshing twist.

Dessert Decisions

Fruit First

When it comes to dessert, fresh fruit is your best friend. Watermelon, berries, and other seasonal fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth while providing vitamins and fiber. They’re a refreshing and healthy end to your meal.

Mindful Indulgence

If you choose to indulge in a traditional dessert, do so mindfully. Enjoy a small portion and savor each bite. Eating slowly and mindfully can help you feel satisfied with less.

Stay Active

Join in Games

Many BBQs feature physical activities and games like volleyball, cornhole, or frisbee. Participating in these activities can help you burn off some of the calories and keep you active.

Post-Meal Walk

Suggest a group walk after eating. It’s a great way to aid digestion, enjoy the outdoors, and continue socializing without the focus being solely on food.

Listen to Your Body

Hunger and Fullness Cues

Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, even if that means not trying everything available.

Enjoy the Experience

Remember, a BBQ is about more than just the food. Focus on the social aspect, enjoy the company of friends and family, and participate in activities. This can help shift the focus away from overindulging.

Eating healthily at a summer BBQ is entirely possible with a little planning and mindfulness. By making smart choices and listening to your body, you can enjoy the festivities without sacrificing your health goals. Implement these tips at your next BBQ and find the balance between having fun and staying on track.

If you’re looking for more tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle or want to join a supportive fitness community, consider joining Virtuo.

We offer personalized training sessions and small group training that is designed to help you achieve your goals.

Click the button below to book a free get-to-know-you call and receive a free week of personal training. It could be the best decision you make this year!

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