Holidays are for celebrating and are meant to be enjoyed, but there is no reason to sacrifice your health every time you attend a BBQ. These six BBQ survival tips can save you hundreds of calories, prevent you from feeling deprived, and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

Try these Healthy Eating Tips For Your 4th of July BBQ

Use Smaller Plates

Research clearly shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils, eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50% fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction.

Eat Slowly and Mindfully

People who eat more slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you are chatting, the less you are eating. Enjoy visiting with the people first – that is really why you are there.

Eat the Healthiest Foods First

If you are eating slowly and off small plates, you may as well fill up on the healthiest foods first. Salads are a great place to start because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Enjoy the veggie tray – there are typically lots of options and many of them are garden fresh. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.

Insider secret: grilled food does not have to be heavy. Kick that barbecue and burger rut with these good-for-you, coal-fired recipes.  

Skip the Chips, Crackers, and Bread

Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories, and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff.

You don’t have to eat your burger without a bun, but pass on the pointless chips and other snacks that lure you when you are not thinking. If you are feeling bored, grab a Frisbee instead.

Try these healthy appetizers:

Keep Dessert Small

The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. And to reiterate, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You do not have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course.

Try these recipes for healthier dessert options:

Think Before You Drink

Frequently at BBQs, alcohol is present. Being outside in the hot sun can dehydrate you quickly and alcohol can speed up the process. While you do not have to say “no”, making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? What else could you enjoy if you skip the alcohol all together? Consider grabbing some water flavored with fruit or mint. Not only is it healthier for you, it can make a pretty presentation. 

If alcohol is a must, these healthier drink recipes may be an option:

Small tricks can save you hundreds and potentially thousands of wasted calories that you will never notice or miss. Why sacrifice a good time when you can just upgrade your healthstyle?

Carmen Keith, MD, IFMCP


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