Burgers. Hotdogs. Chips. Potato salad. Nothing says summer like an outdoor barbecue and the typical food fare that comes along with it.
With August just around the corner, you likely have a few of these events marked on your calendar. Consider the following suggestions to help you stay on top of your health and nutrition goals during barbecue season.
1. Portion Control
Social gatherings centered on food can make it difficult to eat mindfully. Unlimited appetizers, multitasking and more variety in food options can all lead to overeating. Advice: take a small plate for appetizers, fill it up once. Do the same with a dinner-size plate for the main. By filling your plate at one time, you are more aware of the amount of food eaten and mindless snacking isn’t an issue.
2. Eat Your Veggies
It’s easy to get your fill of starches and proteins with typical barbecue fare. But, don’t forget to eat your greens! Serve yourself vegetables first (ideally ½ your plate), then fill the rest of your plate with other foods (1/4 plate lean proteins + ¼ plate starches). Not sure if vegetables will be served at the party? Contact the host and offer to bring a salad or veggie tray. They will either thank you for your generosity, or, tell you that they already plan to offer these options.
3. Limit Condiments
Some of the biggest culprits for hidden salt, fat, and sugar can be found in the condiment aisle. Sauces and dressings like ketchup, BBQ sauce, store-bought marinades, mayonnaise, and sour cream can pack a calorie punch. Advice: a little goes a long way! Try reducing the amount of condiments you use. Alternatively, flavor foods in different ways using spice rubs, herbs, lemon or vinegar.
4. Rethink Your Drink
Cold beers go down pretty easily on a hot day. But calories from these, and other alcoholic beverages, can add up quickly. Pace yourself by staying hydrated with water in between. You can also make lower-calorie choices like wine spritzers, light beer, and tall mixed drinks (ideally with a non-caloric mixer or club soda).
5. Move More
When you’re finished eating, move around! Play a game of horseshoes, toss a ball or go for a walk. Removing yourself from the table limits opportunities for mindless snacking. Bonus: you’ll fit in some activity and quality time with friends and family.
Writer: Kerry Miller