While most of us associate summer BBQs with family, friends, and fun, it can, unfortunately, also be a time when we end up feeling guilty over getting off track regarding our diet. Presented with one unhealthy option after the next, it’s no surprise that weight gain is a common occurrence after the weekend. Here is your guide to avoiding the dreaded post-BBQ bloat.
BBQs and Summer Parties Should Be
All Fun With No Hangovers or Regrets
The possible calorie bomb: Hamburgers and hot dogs
Tips for easy swaps: Pass on a bun, saving yourself anywhere from 100-300 calories. Or compromise and make an open-faced burger using half of the bun. Maybe your health-conscious BBQ host will even have bun-alternatives, like “Oroweat Sandwich Thins,” clocking in at only 100 calories and providing you with 5 grams of filling fiber. Check with your host. If these won’t be at the BBQ, why not bring them yourself?
Avoid high-calorie condiments and toppings like mayonnaise, cheese, and bacon. Replace these with more waist-friendly options like avocado, fresh or grilled veggies, spicy or sweet mustard, and low-fat cheeses.
You can always opt for burgers and dogs made with lean beef, or replace hamburger patties with turkey burgers (make sure to choose extra lean ground turkey as the regular has in many cases just as much fat as beef), portabella mushrooms, or lean fish. Veggie burgers can be good options too – but be careful! They can pack on the calories just like their meaty counterparts. I’m a big fan of “Harmony Valley” vegetarian mix.
Potential diet wrecker: Chili
Try these easy changes: Offer to make the chili, so you know what goes into it. When cooking, you can replace high-fat ground beef with leaner versions or extra lean ground-turkey.
Chili can be a great chance to rack up your veggie points for the day. I double the vegetables in all my chili recipes. Try adding chunky tomatoes, onions, or carrots. Maybe you could even shake things up with some squash. Vegetables can allow you to cut calories without cutting portions, a key component to successful weight loss.
Or go all vegetarian and add lean protein by tossing in any variety of beans.
Mega offender: Potato and/or macaroni salad
It’s not a bad idea to avoid these side items entirely. They tend to be packed with high-fat mayonnaise, and can be a major contributor to the calories you consume. Some alternative side items that won’t break the calorie bank include fruit salad, whole-wheat pasta salad, baked beans, or colorful mixed green salads. Just watch that dressing.
If you plan to make potato or macaroni salads anyway, try using less mayonnaise or use light mayo. Also, add more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and carrots for flavor and crunch.
Calorie contributor: Pie
Make pie crusts lighter by reducing butter and substituting some other high-cal ingredients.
Fill your pies with fresh, seasonal fruit, if available, to avoid the high-sugar, syrupy pie fillings.
If you’re tempted by the pie at your host’s weekend bash, enjoy a small slice. Cut your portions in half and decrease your calorie intake by as much as a few hundred calories. You can also cut the crust off at the end and shave 50 to 100 calories while still enjoying some of the crust and the flavorful filling.
Skip the whip cream or use whipped topping spray (only 15 calories for 2 tbsp) and save about 100 calories.
Waistline woe: Alcohol
Alcohol– often served in abundance at holiday BBQs – can contribute more than just calories. Alcoholic drinks also lower your inhibitions, so you are less likely to make wise decisions when serving yourself and more likely to munch mindlessly on chips and dips all afternoon.
If you’re craving summery cocktails, such as pina coladas, try making a “mocktail,” or a low calorie, alcohol free version of your favorite blended beverage.
Cut calories (and alcohol) by diluting white wine with sparkling water for a deliciously satisfying spritzer.
If you drink alcohol, make sure to alternate a large glass of water or calorie-free beverage with each drink to keep calories and inhibitions under control.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to get right back on track as soon as possible. Don’t let one slightly indulgent weekend turn into a week or two or poor eating.
Melina Jampolis, MD is an Internist and physician nutrition specialist. She specializes in weight loss and disease prevention and treatment. She is the author of “The No Time to Lose Diet” and frequent expert guest in the media. For more information, please visit http://www.drmelina.com
The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.