Sizzling grills. Beer cans cracking open. Is there anything that says summer more than a barbecue?
Barbecues are a blast. But, they also feel tough to navigate when you’re trying to maintain healthy habits and max out your pliability. You might feel like you can’t join in on the fun if you’re trying to eat healthier or avoid booze — but that’s far from the truth.
Here are four tips to help you stick to your nutrition plan while still making the most of any summer barbecue.
Meet Meat Halfway
To be clear, that doesn’t mean you need to cut out meat entirely. Moderation is key, and a burger or steak once in a while doesn’t hurt. But, if you’re going to grab a burger, keep the portions small. Or, swap red meat for a chicken or turkey burger, fish, or a plant-based meat substitute, like Impossible Meat.
Drink Up — but Nix the Alcohol
Again, moderation is essential here. You don’t have to cut alcohol entirely from your diet. But, we generally advise that you avoid it if you can. Alcohol causes inflammation, which can lead to arthritis or damage to your internal organs.
Instead of reaching for that second beer, swap your drink with water. You should drink at least half your bodyweight in fluid ounces of water every day to maintain your Hydration Baseline. Plus, if you’re manning a hot grill all day, your body will thank you for the extra hydration.
If you want that beer taste without the hangover, try a no-alcohol beer, like Athletic Brewing or Heineken 00. If you prefer seltzer, mix some fresh juice with soda water and a splash of lime for a healthy, refreshing sip.
Eat with the Seasons
Organic, locally grown food is often more fresh and nutrient-dense than its supermarket counterpart. Grill your local veggies for a hearty meal with all of that good, charred flavor of your favorite barbecue dishes.
Summer vegetables like corn, squashes and bell peppers are all great options to look for at your local farmer’s market. Try adding a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to some cut up veggies, and cook on the grill. Then, serve them with a bit of chili crisp oil over grains or greens.
Swap Snacks with Healthy Options
You can still add snacks and desserts to your plate without filling up on chips or sweets. Try swapping out typical BBQ sides for some fresh fruit and nuts, or veggies and hummus. These foods are packed with vitamins and protein, and have all the sweetness and crunch without the processed chemicals.
Not sure if there’s going to be any available? Get in the potluck spirit and your own — with plenty to share!
The Bottom Line
Moderation is the word of the day. Don’t deny yourself a fun day at a barbecue, even if you’re trying to maintain healthy habits. There are plenty of ways to be smart while still having a blast this summer.
Find the habits that work for you and your body, and put them into action at your next barbecue — and don’t forget the sunscreen!