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9 Simple Strategies To Keep Your Nutrition On Track At The Family BBQ

Summertime is filled with parties, social events, and barbeques. It’s a time to enjoy gatherings with friends, and family, and fun food. You may be wondering how you can keep up your healthy eating plan during these events? Well, there are some simple strategies to keep you on track while still enjoying summer barbeques. Consider these tips to provide balance and healthy choices.

woman who planned ahead enjoys fruit cup at summer bbq1. Plan Ahead!

Don’t plan to skip meals before attending your event. Going “over-hungry” can lead to poor food choices and excessive portions, as well as giving a person perceived “permission” to go overboard. You can cut back a little by eating lighter meals or even adding a little extra activity, but you want to go feeling nourished, not ravenous.

2. BYO- Bring Your Own Healthy Side Dish

Plan to bring a side dish that you can enjoy that offers a nutritious option. It’s all about
creating some balance and color to your plate. You could prepare a salad, veggie
platter, fresh fruit, or a cold legume side dish. This can offer a healthy complement to
your entree.

3. Choose Wisely

Review all the food options at the BBQ and select your favorites in moderation. You
certainly don’t need to deprive yourself, but you want to practice portion control while still
having some of your favs. Try to balance your choices between rich, extravagant
foods and nutrient-dense low-calorie options. See the recipe below for a suggested side

sandwhich drink and orange meal that smart person planned ahead of bbq4. Select a Healthy Grilled Entree

There are some better choices when it comes to selecting an entree to grill. Focus on leaner meats such as chicken, shrimp, salmon, chicken sausage, and turkey burgers. You can also try a plant-based option such as a black bean burger or veggie kabob. If you’re having a burger, hotdog, or sausage, you can opt to skip the bun to avoid processed, refined carbs and replace it with a salad or side dish.

5. Monitor Your Beverage/Cocktail

Calories count and your beverage selection can make a big difference. If you’re choosing an alcoholic beverage, consider light beer, 4 oz wine, hard seltzer or a cocktail blended with seltzer in place of sugary mixers. As for non-alcoholic beverages, choose water, unsweetened iced tea, or flavored seltzer in place of soda, juice, lemonade, and sweet tea.

6. Desire Dessert?

Consider your true desire for a dessert. Check in with your hunger and fullness – Is there something that truly appeals to you? If so, can you share a dessert or modify the portion to match your fullness.

7. Practice Mindfulness

Be present in the moment and savor the flavor. You want to slow down your eating, chew your food well and enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of your food.

8. Move and Mingle

Try to make your plate and then move away from the buffet table. You’ll be less likely to grab additional food and go back for seconds if you’re not in close proximity. Enjoy the time to socialize and converse with others.

9. Regroup

If you struggle to manage your choices, don’t beat yourself up. One slip-up doesn’t destroy all of your healthy efforts. Simply regroup and get a fresh start tomorrow.

Plan to get back to your food prep, healthy eating, and exercise regimen.

Ann Sukany-Suls

Ann Sukany-Suls

MEd, RDN, LD - Mooresville NC


Ann Sukany-Suls is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and over 30 years of experience. Ann specializes in weight management and medical nutrition for chronic disease and GI disorders. READ MORE


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