It’s summertime and BBQs are a summer tradition. We all love having a good time with friends, family, and all of the food that is usually available. The problem is that many of us end up going overboard with our eating. It all looks so yummy, and we tend to forget about all of the healthy eating we’ve been doing for weeks, months or even years.
To help all of us stay on track while having a good time during a BBQ, here are some tips from nutritional experts.
#1: Remember the 80/20 Rule
Jillian Michaels recommends, “Make 80 percent of the food you eat healthy and take 20 percent of your daily calories and make them fun.” We love this idea because it’s easy. For every meal, simply make most of your plate healthy and then have small portion of not-so-healthy food. This is easily achieved at a barbeque. You can load up on some salad, raw veggies and fruits, a hamburger, and then a cupcake. By the time you get to the cupcake, you’ll likely be stuffed and you wouldn’t have gone overboard.
#2: Calorie Count It
We usually throw out the calorie counting when we go to a BBQ because we figure there’s no point. However, there is a point to it – you’ll eat less. Kim Dolanleto is the Director of Family Health and Wellness for the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and she recommends, “Learn the math behind your weight loss goal. Educate yourself on what portions should look like. Count your calories until you are familiar with them.”
So, pay attention to the number of calories you’re putting on your plate. The average calorie count for a hamburger is 200 calories, and a cup of salad is just 11 calories. Pay attention to the amount of salad dressing you put on the salad keeping it at about a tablespoon and you’re at about 300 calories for all of it. Research the calories for other traditional BBQ foods before you go and have a plan for what you’ll eat, so you can remain within your calorie goal for the day.
#3: Choose Smaller Plates
If possible, we should always choose smaller plates because it will keep us from consuming too many calories. Studies show people who use smaller plates, bowls, and cups will serve themselves 20 to 40% less food. It’s all about how much we put on that plate. A big plate will look bare if we don’t fill it up, but that same bare amount will look like a lot on a smaller plate. So yes, we do eat with our eyes!
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If the BBQ doesn’t have a smaller plate, try a bowl instead. If there is no bowl, you will have to use what is available. Try to keep food in the middle of the plate and envision there isn’t as much space around the edges. When you can remain in control of what you’re perceiving, you’ll have much more success in limiting the amount of food consumed.
#4: Eat Slower
When we eat while doing something such as talking to friends and family, we’re more likely to eat more, not taste and enjoy your food, and suffer from indigestion, according to the University of Minnesota. Eat slowly to enjoy it. After all, one of the best parts of a BBQ is enjoying the good food, but if we’re not paying attention to it, we miss it.
When eating, take a few minutes to really taste the food. Remember why it’s so good and just appreciate being able to taste it. When we eat slower, we often catch the signs of not being hungry anymore faster than when we’re busy while eating. That’s the secret. It’s not about eating until we are full – it’s about eating until we are no longer hungry.
#5: Start with Vegetables
We need to focus on veggies. If possible, get a plate of veggies first, recommends Elisa Zied, a registered dietician in New York City. Just be sure it’s unadulterated, meaning it’s not coated in high calorie dressings and dips. Raw veggies are the best.
When we stick with veggies as our appetizer, we’ll be less likely to load up some of the more calorie-rich foods such as the potato salad, macaroni salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbeque chicken, and so on and so forth.
#6: Always Choose Mustard
As much as we all love ketchup and mayonnaise, they can be like bombs to our healthy lifestyle. Mayonnaise is loaded with calories and fat, and ketchup has hidden sugar. According to registered dietician Cheryl Forberg, “A tablespoon of Dijon mustard has 18 calories with no added sugar or fat, while mayonnaise has 57 calories and 5 grams of fat.” If we skip the Dijon mustard and choose the yellow mustard instead, we won’t consume any additional calories!
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Eating healthy at a BBQ this summer is possible. Just keep these tips in mind, and you’ll walk away happy and confident that you’ve kept your healthy lifestyle tack while having a great time.