tips for healthy during summer BBQ season

The 4th of July is just a few days away and for many, the holiday weekend is filled with fun times, family and food…lots of food! Being surrounded by an abundance of delicious and tempting food at summer BBQs can be quite daunting when you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, parties and BBQs should be a time to relax and enjoy yourself – not stress over food! So I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tips for staying healthy during BBQs and parties.

Everything in moderation – if you want to indulge in some of your favorite foods, which are perhaps less healthy, that’s absolutely fine! Just be mindful of your portion sizes and smaller amounts of calorie-dense foods. If you want chips, have a small handful. If you want cake, have a small slice.

Pick and choose your battles – have potato salad or coleslaw, ice cream or cake, potato chips or french fries. If you really want both, then have a tiny bit of each (remember, everything in moderation).

Balance – it’s important to make sure your meals have a nice balance of proteins, good carbs and healthy fats. Try to keep that in mind when you’re at a BBQ as well! For example: a burger (preferably grass-fed or a lean turkey burger) with a whole wheat bun and slice of cheese plus a side salad with a drizzle of dressing would make for a well-balanced meal at a BBQ.

Fill up first – before you chow down on hot dogs and burgers, try to fill up on your healthier options first. Have some salad and veggies, which are packed with nutrients and fiber, that then move on to the other stuff. By filling up on your healthier options first, you’ll have less room for the more indulgent foods, saving you lots of calories!

Come prepared – I have been to many BBQ’s where I was stuck munching on lettuce all night because there were hardly any healthy/vegetarian options for me to eat. Not only did I feel deprived, but I also felt disconnected from everyone else who was enjoying their meals. So now, I come prepared by bring some healthy side dishes and appetizers that not only I can have, but I know others will enjoy as well. Plus, the host of the party will be grateful that you are contributing to the spread. It’s a double win!

Here are some suggestions:
-veggie sticks and low fat dip (try making a dip using low fat greek yogurt, whip up some homemade guacamole or bring some fresh salsa)
-salad – add a colorful variety of veggies, some fresh fruit and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple, fresh and perfect for summer.
-veggies for roasting – ask your host to throw some veggies on the grill while they are cooking the burgers.
-whole wheat buns, crackers and tortilla chips
-fresh fruit platter for dessert

Stay hydrated – be sure to drink plenty of water, and for extra flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or some fresh fruit!

Enjoy – food is definitely a big part of the holidays, but what’s more important is that you have fun with your friends and family! Food feeds your belly, but spending time with loved ones feeds your soul.

What are your plans for the 4th and how do you plan to stay healthy during the holiday weekend? I wish everyone a happy & healthy 4th of July!

Be well,