Pay attention to portions – I like to use the following references when I’m filling my plate during a cookout:
- Always fill half of your plate with veggies (grilled vegetables, salad, tomato salad, etc.)
- Fill a portion of your plate with a baseball size (about a cup) of sides (pasta salad, bean salad, etc.)
- Lastly, fill your plate with about 3 ounces of meat (roughly the size of your smartphone). This comes in handy for steak, chicken, and fish.
- Choose lean, unprocessed meat – Although it’s part of the tradition, your average barbeque cheeseburger is loaded with saturated fat and calories, and a single hot dog (with no toppings or condiments) has nearly 300 calories and 14 grams of fat. Processed meat like hot dogs and sausages contain preservatives called nitrates that have been linked to colorectal cancer in studies. Also, these types of meat are often loaded with sodium, associated with high blood pressure and heart attack risk. Stick to alternative proteins, like lean turkey burgers, veggie burgers, and fatty fishes such as salmon or tuna.
- Stock up on fresh veggies – Add nutrition to your meal with vegetables cooked right on the grill. My go-to veggies are red peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms (season with herbs and place on a hot grill until they are tender and brown…delish!) One easy way to incorporate more veggies into your BBQ menu is to cook with kebabs skewers, which naturally allow for a heavy veg load.
- Don’t show up hungry – If you’re headed to someone else’s house, it may be best to eat something healthy beforehand for two reasons: (1) there might not be healthy options available and (2) you can curb your appetite so you won’t overeat later.
- Keep count of your alcohol – In the hot summer sun, a refreshing beer can seem like the perfect hydration choice, but it’s easy to overindulge in terms of calories. Try our Skinny Watermelon Mojito for a healthier drink option. I like to alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water to stay hydrated.
- When you’re finished eating, go play – Instead of lurking around the buffet table after you’re done eating, rally the adults to play horseshoes, cornhole, or any other outdoor game. This will keep you moving and prevent overeating.