Who doesn't love grilling out on a hot summer night? Summertime is my favorite season soaking up the sun with friends and family! But, gatherings can be challenging when you are trying to make healthy choices especially when surrounded by your typical BBQ fare (hot dogs, burgers, chips, cookies, etc). Here are my top 3 tips for making healthy choices and staying on track this summer!
1. BUILD A COMPLETE PLATE: Take a walk around and take note of the available options. Of course I want you to enjoy your favorites, but enjoying certain things more than others will ensure you aren't going overboard.
Fill up 1/2 your plate with fruits and vegetables. Start by loading up on the greens! If you know there won't be any vegetable options then bring a salad or some veggies to grill from home. Skewers are a fun way to add bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, etc. Watermelon, grilled peaches, mixed berries, or fruit salad are a great treat to finish your meal with to satisfy that sweet tooth!
1/4 plate lean protein. Hot dogs and burgers are typically the main event, but you can be prepared by providing protein choices that are lower in calories and fat. Lean ground beef (like 93% or 95% lean), turkey burgers, chicken breast, black bean burgers, other veggie burgers, shrimp, or fish are all great options!
1/4 plate starch. Limiting your portion sizes and choosing quality, nutrient-dense starches can be the most difficult at a barbecue. Stick to 2 or 3 servings of starch on your plate (1/2 hamburger bun = 1 serving; 1/2 corn on the cob = 1 serving; 1/2 cup potatoes= 1 serving, fist size of chips = 1 serving; fist size of potato salad or pasta salad = 1 serving, 1/2 cup beans = 1 serving).
2. BE MINDFUL OF THE EXTRA SIDES: Chips, dip, cheese, candy, cookies, cake... mindlessly munching around the food table can quickly add excess calories, fat, and sugar! Prioritize your absolute favorite foods. Knowing that you don't have to try everything available and choosing the things that you will enjoy the most is the key to living in moderation and balance. Don't deprive yourself of your aunt's homemade cheesecake if you look forward to that once a year... maybe just skip the cookies and cupcakes this time around. There's a big difference between enjoying a small amount of something indulgent vs. eating all of the indulgent things. Smart sides to stick with include; guacamole, hummus, salsa, greek yogurt dip with cut up vegetables or whole grain crackers.
3. RETHINK YOUR DRINK: Excess calories and sugar from foods aren't the only ways sabotage a healthy eating plan- don't forget about what you are drinking throughout the day as well! Soda, lemonade, sweet tea, and alcoholic beverages can take a toll on your total caloric intake. Stick with lower calorie, low sugar options such as; plain water, fresh fruit infused water, sparkling flavored water, seltzer water with lime, white wine spritzers, sangria with wine + fruit + sparkling water, light beer, or a "skinny" margarita.
Remember to live life healthy, happy, and with a little bit of zest!