Ways to Make Summer Cook Outs Healthy

Grilling out is a quintessential summer activity for many people, but cookouts can be a dietary disaster for those trying to practice healthy eating and portion control. Here are some tips to celebrate summer in a healthy way.

  • Choose to grill lean meats. Reducing the fat content of your food can help to lower your overall caloric intake without a significant difference in flavor. Cut off any excess fat and choose the leanest option.
  • Use whole wheat buns. White bread can spike your blood sugar with its refined carbohydrates, and that blood sugar spike can cause your body to kick into fat storing mode. Opting for sourdough, rye, or whole wheat buns can help to keep your blood sugar stable. You can also skip the bun entirely!
  • Grill vegetables. Loading up your plate with delicious grilled vegetables can help to fill you up and keep you from overindulging on more calorie-dense options.
  • Practice portion control. 3 oz. of meat is the size of a deck of cards. One serving of cheese is the size of two 9-volt batteries. A half-cup serving is about the size of a light bulb. Try a 1/4 pound burger instead of 1/3 pound or 1/2 pound patties, or split some food with a friend.
  • Don’t skip a meal to “save” calories for later. This can cause you to crave high-sugar and high-fat foods, and you may overeat out of hunger.
  • Choose healthy desserts. There are tons of recipes for sweet but light dessert options. Try a strawberry-blueberry shortcake made with angel food cake and light whipped cream, homemade fruit popsicles, fruit skewers, or an “un-cake” made with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas arranged into an appealing shape.

Backyard barbecues are a summer time tradition, but they don’t have to derail your healthy eating goals. Follow these tips and you’ll still have all the fun and the flavors of summer.

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