It’s that time of year again when we fire up the barbecue and have cookouts with friends and family. It may seem difficult to eat healthy at a cookout, but there are ways to enjoy yourself without overdoing it. Try these tips to help you find balance during these fun occasions:
- Eat at regular times throughout the day leading up to the cookout to avoid feeling famished when you arrive. We tend to overeat when we haven’t eaten all day. It’s also harder to make good choices once we get too hungry.
- Bring your own healthy side dish. Make a green salad full of non-starchy vegetables or a bowl of fresh mixed fruit. You can also bring fresh vegetables to grill. Bell peppers, corn, eggplant, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and onions add flavor and nutrition.
- Choose lean proteins to grill. Shop for skinless chicken breast, lean pork, beef tenderloin, fresh fish. Use lean ground beef or turkey for burgers (7 percent fat or less).
- Keep it light with the drinks because they can add a significant amount of empty calories. Instead, bring your own beverages. Try fruit-infused water, flavored sparkling water or ice water with sliced cucumber and mint leaves. As a bonus, these drinks will keep you hydrated during hot summer days.
- Overall, be mindful when you are eating at a cookout. There are usually more than enough food options. You don’t have to eat everything available. Before plating your food, consider all the choices and only pick your favorite items with a small portion of dessert. Remember to include protein, carbohydrates (including fruit), and mostly non-starchy vegetables on your plate.
Ultimately, enjoy yourself! That’s the purpose of a cookout.