The summer grilling season is upon us and that means a rolling celebration from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I like to share advice with my private clients this season to help them navigate those long tables of finger foods and mayonnaise-based dishes.
The most important thing about eating alfresco with our friends and family is to be present and enjoy each other. That is always key; celebrate! This is easier if you are empowered with a plan that supports your nutritional goals.
Here are my most favorite tips and tricks if you are attending a summer barbecue:
If you are attending a summer barbecue – Go with a slightly full stomach.
Eat some protein, or even a mini meal, like yogurt with fruit, or a hard-boiled egg and raw veggies, or a few slices of turkey wrapped around a pickle before heading to the party. Going hungry may lead to hovering over the chips and dip, and if you’re super-hungry and excited about the all the potluck possibilities, you may overeat. Minimize the chances that you’ll blow it by eating something healthy before you leave your house.
Always offer to bring something to share.
And by that I mean a salad, fruit platter or something else you that know you can eat, just in case the healthy choices are limited. Bringing something to the table is not only going to insure that you have a healthy option, it’s a nice thing to do for the host. I find that when I bring the healthy option, it’s the first thing to go!! Everyone loves a unique salad!
Plan for your cheats and drinks.
Don’t let a barbecue turn into a cheat day that you regret.
It’s ok to indulge, but make sure it’s limited and pre-planned so you can stay on track with your health and weight loss goals.
- Choose raw veggies over the potato chips.
- Choose shrimp cocktail over the chips and guacamole.
- Go for a protein like chicken, or a hamburger minus the bun but with the tomato, onion and maybe some sauerkraut! Sauerkraut is great for gut health.
- Load up on the veggies, as the high fiber will really fill you up, even before eating the protein!
- If you must have a bite of something, go ahead and taste it, but keep it to the 3 bite rule.
Drinking at summer events can get out of control and add hundreds of empty calories to the day. Remember to drink lots of water in between your alcoholic drinks. Rule of thumb with water: drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces each day. This is even more important when you are consuming alcohol.
If you are the one hosting a summer barbecue –
Make sure to have a selection of salads, proteins on the grill and fresh fruit for dessert along with other summertime goodies. Chances are, you aren’t the only one navigating the summer buffet and hoping that there are delicious options that are also low cal, gluten-free and clean.
When I’m hosting, I love to make a large platter of grilled veggies earlier in the day, and then serve them at room temp. That one thing is out of the way and allows me to focus on preparing the rest of the meal. Your vegetarian friends will appreciate these too!
It’s also a great idea is to make extra grilled chicken and turkey burgers (or whatever healthy protein you are making), to have for a few days during the week after the party. This will save you time and energy and the grill is already on!
Don’t forget that there are plenty of other items that are perfect for grilling:
- Watermelon, cut into “steaks.” Brush with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side.
- Pineapple. Slice into 1” pieces and grill on high heat for 3 minutes each side. You can serve this as a side, over a salad or make a homemade salsa with it!
- Romaine lettuce. Brush entire head with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill for about 5 minutes each side. Slice into pieces, add grated parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, drizzle lemon juice and toss.
- Cauliflower steaks. Brush with olive oil and salt, grill for about 5-8 minutes each side. You can also add a little honey or maple syrup on each side for some nice caramelization.
Offer guests a refreshing non-alcoholic drink like an herbal iced tea with fruit ice cubes or infused water with cucumber, berries, rosemary, lime, basil or other flavor combination.
Regardless of your summer party plans, get to the local farmers market as much as possible, so you can eat with the season. Fresh produce that has just been picked will make you feel good and inspire you to stay on track with you diet.
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