Healthy Eating at Your Next BBQ

Nutrition

THE COOKOUT CONUNDRUM – Strategies for healthy eating at your nextBBQ

Pick up any health magazine today and you will find an article about the mid-life mid-section struggle. Countless features about maintaining a healthy body weight in our 40s and 50s are available, but very few provide real-world strategies for daily temptations. As we age, weight gain in our mid-section is more common, and unfortunately, more troubling for our health. According to the Mayo Clinic, weight gain after menopause increases the likelihood for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. The first step to avoiding that mid-section weight gain is developing a strategy for substituting unsavory food items with healthier options.

The Cookout Conundrum
Wondering how to attend this summer’s celebrations without sabotaging your healthy eating plan? Tempting food choices at the annual block party or neighbor’s graduation BBQ come in the form of ribs, burgers, hot dogs, chips/dips and high-fat salads. Often within an arm’s length, these tempting food choices make it easy for us to head down the wrong path. If you’re looking for some ways you can actively participate in the season’s celebrations without jeopardizing your health, here’s our guide to navigating your way through the cookout’s tempting table.

“Go-To”
Vegetables: Just about any vegetable on the grill tastes great. All you need to enhance the flavor is a little olive or avocado oil, fresh basil, parsley, sea salt (in moderation) and pepper. Mix and season well, grill for twenty minutes on low and enjoy all the season has to offer in freshness!

Fruits: Grilled pineapple, peach or even strawberries are a fantastic “go-to” when you are craving a snack. Use fruit to replace the chip/dip option that might be tempting as you pass by the food table.

Lean Meats/Seafood: Chicken and fish are great lean options for the summer cookout. With so many marinades available to consumers today, the possibilities are endless. You can go as simple as an Italian dressing, or spice it up to create your own sriracha sauce marinade.

Sides that Sizzle: Opt for sides that sizzle in the sun. If the dressing is clear and sparkling in the sunlight, you’ve already found a better choice. Most often, an olive oil-based dressing will have lower calories and fat than its creamy-based cousin. You can apply this rule to vegetable, pasta and fruit salads. When the choice is between the clear summer sizzle and the thick, creamy concoction drizzle – go for the sizzle!

“Say No To”
High-fat Meats
Spare ribs taste great, but they are a high-fat food choice. If you can’t resist, eat just one and pile the rest of your plate high with fruits and veggies to make your meal plan successful.

Tempting as they may be, avoid hot dogs. With a high level of nitrates per dog, they could be one of the worst food choices at any cookout. This Time article cites four out of five experts urging us to avoid them. It’s time to take notice about the adverse effects of nitrates in our diet.

If a cheeseburger is what you crave, don’t load it up on a Frisbee-sized bun, add bacon, two slices of cheese and all the fixings. Lighten it up by choosing a lettuce wrap bun and skipping all the fat-filled toppings.

Desserts
Before you leave the house select your splurge food/drink item. Stick to your plan. Remember desserts aren’t always in the form of food. There are many fruity and creamy alcoholic drinks that have just as many empty calories as the cupcakes, chocolate cookies and cheesecake brownies on the table. A little goes a long way, so develop a strategy without depriving yourself. Don’t let sweets defeat you.

We hope you enjoy all the summer season has to offer. Challenge yourself to discover a new grill favorite to keep your healthy food plan on track.

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