Nutrition

BBQ Season Survival Guide

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Let me start off this post with an apology; sorry for not writing any new content in the last few weeks. What can I say except that life got a little too hectic and overwhelming for a while there, but now things are finally starting to settle again and I am ready to go. On that note, let’s talk about barbeque season! That’s right, the harsh winter is finally behind us and warmer, sunny days have finally sprung. This summer you may get invited to a few shindigs or you may even be hosting some yourself, so we’re going to discuss the ways that you can keep healthy and on track while enjoying the perks of a great BBQ.

Barbeques have the potential to either be super healthy and in keeping with your regiment or can be super fattening and throw you right off of all your hard work. So it’s a good idea to keep a few strategies in your back pocket to help you enjoy the party without worry. You have some options when it comes to tackling any kind of get together where there’s food involved; you can either watch what you eat (which I will explain shortly) or you can indulge and make it your treat meal of the week. If you choose the former, here are some tips to help you eat well when you attend a backyard BBQ this summer. For starters I suggest that you offer to bring a dish to the host’s home; not only is it a polite option that will also take a bit of work away from the host, but it also allows you to control what exactly will go into the dish and how healthy it is. Be sure to ask the host what they’d like you to bring as they may already have a set menu. If they suggest that you bring a side dish to go with the meal then maybe consider whipping up a nice bean salad with lots of veggies like peppers, spinach and onions, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh basil. If they suggest desert then offer up a nice fruit salad and top it off with fresh mint leaves, coconut milk, vanilla extract and maybe toss some slivered almonds for an added crunch. Whenever you bring a dish to someone’s home, take the opportunity to bring something that’s both lighter and delicious, as many times people tend to serve very decadent and rich meals when hosting as they want to treat their guests to the best dishes.

When you’re there, first and foremost don’t spend the entire time worrying about your diet and how you’re going to stick with it when you’re surrounded by wonderful tempting treats; take it easy, enjoy yourself and the company your with. By now you should know how to keep your meals in balance and how to avoid overeating, so don’t spend too much time trying to calculate how many calories are in this or how much fat is in that. One habit that’s good to adopt is having a snack before you leave your home; maybe a small handful of nuts, a slice of sprouted grain bread with nut butter or when all else fails there’s always a protein shake for a good option. When it’s time to chowdown try to load up at least half of your plate with non-starchy veggies (think salads, crudité or grilled vegetables), for your protein go for your usual 4 ounces (palm sized) of lean protein if possible (chicken-without BBQ sauce which is loaded with sugar or grilled fish or tofu are the best options) otherwise you can always go for the more fatty protein choices like steak or pork chops, but keep in mind the added fat, in fact you may want to cut back on the fat somewhere else in your meal. In terms of your grains try to keep it under a cup and stick with whole grains when available (think quinoa, brown rice, whole grain pasta) and if there’s bread go for whole grain if you can or keep your portion size as small possible. Have a little bit of everything that way you can taste all the food without going overboard on any one thing, but always  keep your portion sizes in mind when it comes to your macros and load up on non-starchy veggies. In terms of alcohol, take into consideration that each drink is like a piece of desert, so if you have a few it’s like having a cupcake, a slice of cheesecake and a brownie, and although these are all yummy, it’s not a good idea to have that much. Try to have only one drink (as hard as it may seem) stick to light beer, a glass of wine or club soda mixed with clear liquor and a splash of lime juice (for example vodka soda). Desert-wise you know how to be smart here so stick to fruit salad or skip it altogether unless you choose to make it your treat meal of the week.

When it’s your turn to host the ball is in your court so this is a great opportunity for you to serve up some healthy food for your guests. The principle is basically the same as mentioned above except you’re in the driver’s seat for pretty much everything. Offer up a platter of raw vegetables and rice crackers with a light dip like hummus or serve bean chips with salsa. Beverage wise, do what you can to accommodate your guests, but remember that there’s nothing more refreshing than a glace of iced tea on a hot day. Brew up your own instead of buying the sugary powder mix and sweeten it with either a little bit of agave nectar, stevia or mixing in a no added sugar fruit juice, then maybe add fresh mint leaves with ice cubes. When it comes to the main event, try to include lots of salads, lean proteins and whole grains that way your guests will have lots of variety. Keep your recipes simple and straight forward so that you`re not spending the entire time in the kitchen instead outside enjoying the fun.

Going to or hosting a BBQ is one of the great perks of summer, the last thing you need is to spend it fussing over what you should or shouldn’t eat. Don’t be super strict with yourself, just do the best you can and enjoy yourself and the time you have with the other guests. You know how to make the best choices, but if you happen to overdo it, don’t beat yourself up just start back again at your next meal. So go ahead and slather on the SPF, sit outside and soak in the super awesome weather this BBQ season.

Start It, Finish It

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