5 Tips to Enjoy Summer BBQs in a Healthy and Fun Way

Photo credit: Dave Lastovski

My Mum and Dad were headed to a few BBQs to continue the Summer celebrations and my Mum was worried that she wouldn’t be able to make healthy food choices because she wouldn’t know what was being served at the parties.

We all battle with this! And luckily there are some easy tips to help navigate the rest of your summer BBQs so that you can make the right healthy choices for you and still have fun!

In general, BBQs during the summer tend to have a similar theme so although it might feel like the unknown, we do know more than we think. Invariably, folks will be grilling a bunch of different meats, possibly burgers and hot dogs, lots of fresh veggie dishes and fruits, an array of salad medleys (potato salad, couscous salad, bean salad…), and desserts like blueberry pie, brownies/cookies, s’mores, ice-cream etc. And as for drinks there will tend to be a bunch of beers, sometimes wine/prosecco, and sodas.

I came up with 5 simple tips to help her navigate the summer BBQ, and given that this question foils the best of us, I wanted to share these tips with you!

5 Tips to Enjoy Summer BBQs in a Healthy and Fun Way:

1. Fill your plate with veg and protein

2. Dessert — yes have it! — but don’t go overboard and feel like it’s the last dessert you’ll ever have

3. Alternate between water and alcoholic drinks

4. When you’ve had your fill of food — step away from the plate — no awards for the clean plate club here!

5. Enjoy your company and have fun — rather than over focus on the food

5 Tips Explained:

1. Fill your plate with veg and protein

Aim for a plate with 1/2 veg + 1/4 protein + 1/4 fun salad medley

As mentioned above, most BBQs will have an array of meats from the grill and fresh yummy veggies, so fill your plate up with these. The best part of summer is all the fresh yummy produce and delicious seasoned grilled meat.

If there are burgers and hot dogs, grab 1 and enjoy, then fill up the rest of the plate with veg.

· Sides for the burger/dog ~ opt for tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, sauerkraut

· Condiments for the burger/dog ~ opt for mustard and ketchup, and go easy on the mayo

*If you’re a veggie/vegan, double down on the veg and aim for ones that are slightly more protein packed like beans, or even anticipate there might not be too many veggie options and bring some veggie burgers with you!

2. Dessert — ow yeah we’re having dessert!

Pick out one you absolutely love and — have a nice portion of it (think baseball size) OR
if you like the look of all the desserts — grab a little of each (say 2 bites of each to fill a small bowl/plate)

Now relish and enjoy every morsel! Have a moment with that dessert, ow yeah, I’m a dessert girl. This stuff is delicious!

Key is to remember that this isn’t the ‘last supper’/last meal/last BBQ/last dessert you’re ever going to have in your life…so don’t go overboard…have your dessert, ENJOY, and then call it a day and go enjoy the party — you’re golden!

3. Alternate a glass of water with alcoholic drink

Trust me this will not only save your waistline but also your hangover fuzz the next day!

Sometimes the host will run out of water bottles/pitchers at the party, but you can always be the dutiful guest that pops into the house where you’re celebrating and fill up a pitcher, or if you’re at a public venue there are almost always water fountains where you can go fill up a cup of water.

If all else fails, just alternate between a diet soda and alcohol.

4. When you’ve had your fill of food step away from the plate

No clean plate awards here!

When you’ve had your meal, the danger is to suddenly think hmmm am I still hungry and then the ‘battle of the mind’ begins enticing you to head back to the buffet table juuust one more time. “What the hell it’s Saturday it’s time to indulge!” OR “I deserve this I had a long week at work.” But heck you’ll be bummed right after you’ve done so.

Just hush it…one trick Jennifer Hudson shared was to pour water on your plate and dump your napkin on top — yup might sound crazy — but it will make those leftovers reallll unappetizing to go in after.

5. Enjoy your company and have fun!

The food doesn’t have to be the focus

Lastly and most importantly, enjoy the company you’re with. The food doesn’t have to be the focus. You are getting together to catch up with family and friends, so focus your attention and energy on them. You are there to enjoy the summer, be with your friends, and have fun! So get up/dance around/play/celebrate, rather than getting too focused on the food.

Final tid bits

Enjoy and celebrate that you can be a bad ass health guru at the BBQ Party, and if it doesn’t click right away, don’t worry there’s another BBQ you can dominate down the road. Just try to be a little bit better every day. And each day we get a clean slate to try again. Be well :)

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If you have any questions on the above scenario or other health questions that you’d like help solving, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Jessamy.little@gmail.com.

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