Memorial Day is around the corner, which seems to be the holiday that really kicks off the summer season. Most people say that they lose weight in the summer, but often I see the opposite. Summer is full of graduation parties, picnics, bon-fires and BBQs. There tends to be a whole lot of snacks, drinks and grilled fatty foods at these events that can be very high in calories. Here are some ideas on how to enjoy BBQ season without packing on the pounds:
Cook Up Healthy Foods
If you’re the one grilling, there are a ton of options besides your typical hamburgers and hotdogs. Try chicken, fish, vegetables, or even pineapple on the grill to get some healthier options in the mix.
Bring a Healthy Dish to Pass
If you’re going to a party, it’s normally polite to bring something along with you. If you bring a veggie platter, salad or fruit bowl, you’ll know there’s at least one healthy option at the event.
Don’t Forget to Socialize
You’re at the party for the people, not the food. Focus on mingling, catching up and conversing rather than stuffing your face.
Move Away from the Snacks!
Find a spot to hang out that isn’t right next to the snack table. If all the snacks are right in front of you, it’s hard not to munch mindlessly. Make a snack plate if you choose and then move away!
Sip on a Low-Calorie Beverage
Carrying a water bottle around or sipping on some unsweetened iced tea can curb snacking. Filling up with fluids will help you eat smaller portions of food.
Look at All Your Options Before Putting Food on Your Plate
This tip is good for any buffet-like situation. If you fill up your plate on the first few items you see, you’ll end up going for seconds for all the goodies you missed. It’s best to know all your options and then make your selections.
Fill Up on Non-Starchy Vegetables
If you’ve had an appointment with me, or any dietitian for that matter, you’ve probably been given the advice “make half your plate vegetables”. This is a great way to make you feel full without eating too many calories. At a BBQ your choices will most likely be green salads and raw vegetables from the veggie platter.
Make Good Choices
This can be tough at cookouts. There’s often a ton of high-fat options available: macaroni salad, chips, chicken wing dip, taco salad, hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, and the list goes on. Search for some more sensible options such as tortilla chips and salsa, grilled chicken, fruit, raw vegetables and salad. Hopefully some other health-conscious guests brought more reasonable dishes to pass as well.
Focus on Portion Control
Even if there’s not a single sensible option at the entire party, you’re still in control of your portions. There’s no reason to eat three hotdogs; there just isn’t.
Be Mindful of the Drinks
If you’re not careful, you can end up drinking as many calories as you ate at a party. Just because the calories aren’t listed on your beer bottle doesn’t mean they’re not there!
Did you eat too much even with these tips? It happens. Get some additional exercise during the week if you can, and then move on. Beating yourself up about it is counterproductive and a waste of your time; you’re better than that!