By Marielle Mangano, RD, CDN

Summer is the perfect time to come together with friends and enjoy a festive barbecue outside. Lighting up the grill is usually associated with overindulging on snacks, burgers, and desserts. However, just because you are trying to manage your weight, does not mean you have to miss out on all of the fun. Here are some tips to enjoy your next summer barbecue while still honoring your new, healthy lifestyle:

  • Don’t come to the party hungry: Make sure you have something containing both protein and fiber before arriving to manage your hunger. If you arrive starving, you’ll be more likely to overindulge. Coming to a party satisfied allows you to slow down and make more rational food choices.
  • Scan the table before choosing your indulgence: If you’re going to indulge a little, make sure you survey all of your options first before settling. If you choose everything that appeals to you as you make your way down the food line, your plate will be brimming with too much food. Assess all of your options, and then come to the food table with a game plan.
  • Focus on the social aspect of the party: Make a point to catch up with all of your friends, play lawn games, or swim in the pool. There are plenty of other highlights to a barbecue besides the food!
  • Eat your burger without the bun: If you’re having lean ground beef or turkey, a bun-less burger is the perfect low-carb, high-protein entrée.
  • Load up your plate with veggies: There are plenty of options for side dishes at parties, some healthier than others. Skip the creamy and carb-heavy potato salad and opt for a big plate of salad instead. Loading your plate up with veggies adds volume to your meal without the calories or fat.
  • Bring your own dish: If you’re nervous about healthy options being available, volunteer to bring a healthy dish of your own. That way you’re guaranteed to have something you love. Veggies and hummus or juicy slices of watermelon are great additions to any snack table.
  • Stay hydrated with the right fluids: Fill up on zero-calorie, zero-sugar fluids on a hot summer’s day. Crystal light and water are both refreshing and great alternatives to heavier options such as soda, juice, and alcohol. Not only will alcohol dehydrate you (not good on a hot, summer day), but it will also lower your inhibitions and tempt you into making poor food choices.
  • Make Dessert Healthy: A berry parfait is a great dessert for summer time. Pair blueberries and strawberries with some Greek Yogurt for a patriotic dessert perfect for an Independence Day barbecue.

Summer gatherings can still be a part of your new lifestyle if you decide to make a few simple changes. Now that you’re equipped with these helpful tips, you’re ready to enjoy the delicious food, sunshine, and good company associated with summer barbecues.

Marielle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.