BBQ Basics for Weight Management

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD

Summer is BBQ time! But if you’re trying to lose weight, a buffet table filled with typical picnic foods can be tempting and the calorie count can easily get out of hand. However, following the below simple rules for smart summertime eating can put you in control.

  1. Bring a healthy dish with you. You’ll know that you’ll have at least one nutritious dish to enjoy. Fruit platters, raw veggie trays and steamed shrimp are all low calorie, healthy options.
  2. Pay attention to portions and your personal hunger level. Think about how hungry you are before you dig in. Start slowly and eat mindfully. When you get the feeling of fullness, stop eating – even if it means leaving food on your plate. Better to discard food than have it contribute excess calories to your body.
  3. Fill up on vegetables. Eat loads of green salad with lots of seasonal vegetables or crunch on the crudités but go easy on the dips.
  4. Have a little lean protein. Studies show that, gram for gram, lean proteins help you feel fuller than carbohydrates or fats, so enjoy what’s on the grill, a lean burger, skinless chicken, fish or even tofu.
  5. Balance your plate.   To keep a limit on calories, restrict yourself to 1 cup – total – of starchy side dishes, such as potato salads, pasta salads and bean dishes. As a reference point, visualize a tennis ball or baseball which is about 1 cup.  
  6. Prioritize your favorite food. If you really want a cheeseburger, go for it but balance your plate with a green salad or grilled vegetables and fruit as sides. If the chocolate brownies on the dessert table are too enticing, have grilled chicken or fish on top of a bed of greens to make room for the extra calories.
  7. Rethink your drink. Sangria, beer, wine and soda can easily add hundreds of unwanted calories. If you can’t resist, limit yourself to just one serving. You can also substitute low calorie fluids such as seltzer and a splash of juice, unsweetened iced tea or lemon water.
  8. When you’re finished eating, move away from the food and go play. Group games like volleyball and horse shoes are fun or you can enjoy a run or bike ride in the park. The important thing is to keep moving.