Are grills firing up in your neighborhood? Summer BBQs and parties are certainly fun but they can be a huge problem if you are trying to lose weight or stay lean. Who doesn’t love getting an invitation to cook out and share some memorable times with friends and family?
However, if you’re a party animal (or just love to socialize), all those BBQs will start to sabotage your healthy habits. Does this mean that you have to turn down invitations and be a recluse all summer?
Far from it! You can go to all the BBQs you want as long as you follow some practical tips to help you stay on track.
Here are some suggestions to survive summer BBQs this season.
1. Eat before you go. You don’t have to be a fitness professional to know that the hungrier you are, the less willpower you have. Count on it: If you show up at a BBQ hungry, you are going to indulge in things that will cause you regret later. Instead, eat a small meal right before you go; you’ll have more self-control and you’ll fill up faster as well.
2. Use a small plate. Research has demonstrated that if you use a smaller plate, you will eat less. If there are different sized plates and bowls available, choose the smallest ones to eat from.
3. Fill up on fruits and veggies. Raw produce is cool, juicy, and crunchy, and it will fill you up quickly. It’s a smart choice on a hot summer day and will leave you feeling much more comfortable than if you indulged in fatty, salty snacks.
4. Use caution around the condiments. It doesn’t matter how many raw veggies you eat—if you slather them in ranch dressing, you’re not cutting calories. Mayo, ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressings, and dips are usually loaded with fat, calories, salt, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. Use condiments sparingly—to enhance the flavor of your food, not overpower it!
5. Take a healthy dish. If you know that there will be very little (or no!) healthy food at a cookout that you have been invited to, just offer to take a dish. That way, you have control over at least one menu item.
6. Go light on the beverages. You can down hundreds of calories in just a couple of beverages if you are not careful. Drinking calories isn’t very satisfying. Save the calories for the food and drink water or unsweetened tea instead.
7. Choose lean cuts of meat. Grilled fish or chicken breasts are a better choice than hamburgers, steaks, sausages, or hot dogs, which often have much higher amounts of fat and thus more calories.
8. Stay active. Don’t just sit around at the BBQs this summer. If others are up for a game of Frisbee or a brisk walk, join in. You can start burning off the extra calories you ate immediately!
With these tips in your arsenal, you will be well prepared to take on any BBQ that summer has to offer. Have fun!