Eating Healthy at Summer Gatherings

Here’s a few quick tips and recipes to avoid derailing from your health journey

Don’t fret my friend, you can stay on top of your health goals this summer with these few quick healthy recipe ideas to bring to the next bbq.

Summertime is all about enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. Outdoor get-togethers usually include picnics or barbeques. You are likely to look forward to these events but may find them a bit challenging when trying to decide the best choice as to what to eat and drink. Rest assured, these events do not need to derail you from eating healthy and nutrient rich foods.  Let’s take a look at how you can stay focused on your health and navigate through the options. 

First, snack on the fresh fruit and veggies. These are refreshing, nutritious and low-calorie options rather than chips and creamy dips. If you like to dip your fruit or veggies, look for unsweetened yogurt, fresh salsa, hummus or tahini.   

Stay hydrated with water when you are spending an extended time outdoors. Enjoy flavoring your water with fresh fruit like slices of orange, lemon or lime. You can also use fresh herbs like mint or rosemary to add taste to your water.  Keep in mind that drinks are an easy way to get added calories.  If you’re not sticking to water or seltzer, try to avoid the sweet teas or lemonade due to the sugar.  Regular beer, hard lemonade, margaritas, daiquiris and pina coladas are also high in carb (>12 grams) content.  Select wine or light/low carb beer which tend to have 3-4 grams of sugar per serving. 

When it comes to protein options, look for fish or lean meats. Lean meats typically include skinless chicken and turkey.  If you like beef, look for lean grass-fed beef to reduce fat and calories.  Kabobs are also a great option as they have both protein and veggies.  Keep in mind your protein serving should be palm size, approximately 3 ounces.  

Not sure if you want the bun or not?  Buns that are made with whole grain or sprouted grains are best. They have more fiber & flavor than the typical white or potato bun that is high in sugar content. If you are looking to save carbs for some pasta or potato salad, you may decide to eat an open-faced burger (half bun) or wrap your burger in lettuce.  

Grilled vegetables are great and there are so many choices. Healthy oil (i.e., avocado or olive oil) can be used on a variety of vegetables including zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, squash, eggplant, and potatoes.  Grilled vegetables add a variety of color to your plate and are eye appealing.  Food that is bright and colorful tends to attract your attention as well as feed your appetite.  Don’t forget the corn on the cob! It’s simple and delicious, just be cautious with added butter or salt.  

A particular area that may get overlooked is the use of condiments such as ketchup, mustard, marinades, sauces and dressings.  Although they do not take up a portion of the plate they do add calories to food. Many of these products are high in sugar and salt.  Remember to read the labels and look for the amounts of added sugar and sodium. Choose products that have less than 3 grams of added sugars.  You can switch out some of the products with lemon or lime juice.  You can also make your own dressings with fresh seasonal herbs, vinegar and olive oil. You’ll enjoy the fresh and flavorful taste without the added calories.      

Now you’re probably wondering, what about the salads? Try to avoid salads that are made with creamy dressing and mayonnaise.  These salads are high in fat and calories. Look for salads that are made with vinegar instead.  Vinegar is low in calories and helps to boost the metabolism.  You may even want to make a salad the next time you’re invited to a BBQ or picnic. This way you will have a healthy choice to go to. You also get to pick the quality and amount of ingredients used to make the salad.  Salads don’t have to be boring lettuce and tomato, you can have fun and get creative with salads.  For example, arugula and strawberries or watermelon with crumbled feta.  Whole grains are great for salads & because they are complex carbohydrates they keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time compared to a potato or pasta salad.  Look at some of these recipes that are easy to make and tasty too!

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Diane Saulle, PhD.
Diane Saulle, PhD. is a certified Health Coach and Founder of Eat Clean Be Vital Inc. The demands placed on women today make it easy to prioritize everyone & everything before ourselves. This takes a toll on how we look & feel. I provide guidance, support & accountability to women looking to reclaim their health & well-being. Focus is placed on what to eat, physical activity & personal development.
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