Ah, BBQs. The smell of summer. Longer days and nicer weather means more socialising. We know, it can be hard to navigate BBQ season if you’re trying to stay healthy.
The tempting sights and smells of summer BBQs play havoc with our will power, not to mention the buffet style eating that encourages us to fill our plates – and then return for some more. Here’s our top 10 ways to enjoy BBQs and stay on track.
1. Have a plan.
Might seem obvious, but this simple thing can stop a whole lot of bother. Having a plan means you’ve thought about the situation in advance so you can prepare. Drinks can often contain hidden sugars and calories and alcohol can weaken your reserve when it comes to food. List your priorities and see where you can make little adjustments. Would you really enjoy a long, cold beer or cocktail? Maybe you’d rather savour a decadent dessert? Seek balance, have the drink with some lean meat and salad, or enjoy a lighter meal of grilled fish and veg before that dessert.
2. Avoid arriving hungry.
If you arrive starving, the sights and smells will tempt you much more. Well timed meals or snacks beforehand can help curb the cravings. This will save your appetite for the things you’re really looking forward to.
3. Bring a healthy option.
BBQs guests are often invited to bring a dish. Showcase your skills and knowledge and take a healthy option. Whether it’s bought or homemade, you can bring healthier starters, mains or puds. From leafy salads or marinated fish to vegetable kebabs and strawberries drizzled with dark chocolate, there’s lots of scope to add variety in a healthy way.
4. Find a space away from the BBQ and buffet.
Sitting a little way away from the buffet table and the smell of sizzling sausages can help you stay on track. Out of sight, and smell, out of mind. Limiting your eating time will also leave you more time for socialising.
5. Fill up your plate once.
It’s so hard not to return for seconds and thirds and stop ourselves from grazing in general at BBQs. Yet, if you plan beforehand to load your plate once and truly enjoy every mouthful, you’ll be much more likely to stick to it.
6. Look at the proportions on your plate.
Pile at least half of your plate with salads and vegetables. This will fill you up with fibre and nutrients without the added calories. Fill a quarter with lean proteins like fish and chicken, removing any skin if you’re trying to be super lean. Leave the other quarter for starchy carbs like baked potatoes, rice and couscous. Try to give high calorie oily or creamy dressings a miss. A squeeze of lemon on freshly BBQ’d fish is just as delicious.
7. Stay hydrated.
Keeping ourselves hydrated in warmer weather is important and water is the best source for this. Not only is it free, but also it contains zero calories. Both soft and alcoholic drinks can be high in calories. Alcohol tends to lower our resolve, causing us to make unwise choices. Try drinking interspersing alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic, low cal ones. Or wait until you’ve eaten to have alcohol. If you opt to be the designated driver, you could avoid drinking altogether.
8. Don’t go back for seconds.
This one is hard. The abundance of food makes it easy to go up for more, it can feel rude not to. Remind yourself of the plan you made to help you resist the temptation to go back for more if you haven’t planned to. Wait at least 20 minutes from when you finish your plate. This is the time it takes for our brain to process that our stomach has been fed. After this, ask yourself: do I really need any more food or am I full already? You might find you won’t feel the need to return for more.
9. Have an answer for everything.
It’s a BBQ. People host generously, offering you all manner of culinary delights and you don’t want to be impolite. You might want to enthuse about your healthy eating plan or weight loss aims, and equally you might not. Having some polite responses up your sleeve will help. Try:
- Thanks, but I’m full up
- That looks delicious, but I’ve had plenty
- I’m saving space for … pudding/birthday cake etc
- No thank you, I’m driving
10. Have a plan B, just in case.
Make sure you’ve some healthy options to access when you get home. Sometimes there aren’t the suitable options we’d hoped for and plans go out of the window. Ah well, we’ve all done it. Making sure you eat well for the rest of the day and the following day too can help you feel back in control. Don’t give yourself a hard time, focus forward.
We hope those tips help. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy yourself, a BBQ is a wonderful thing!