Healthy Eating

3 Diet Disasters to Avoid at Barbecues (Including These Popular Salads)

healthy-bbq-ideasYou’ve worked hard all week. You’ve watched your calories, eaten tons of fruits and vegetables, and worked up an exhilarating sweat at the gym. Want to reverse it all at the cookout this weekend?

I didn’t think so! Fear not… you can still get your fill of delicious barbecue foods, just follow these three easy rules to keep excess calories from scorching your weight loss & fitness results.

1. Go Light on the Deli Salads

Vegetables are the absolute healthiest food in terms of nutrients per calorie. You know what doesn’t contain vegetables? Most of the salads people bring to cookouts.

Prepared and deli salads are mayonnaise swimming pools, and drowning in them are pasta, potatoes, tuna, chicken… and maybe, if you’re lucky, a floating piece of celery or onion. Caprese salads, while I love them dearly, should also not be confused with “salad.” Same goes for fruit salad with that whipped cream stuff.

Unless you’re dishing up from a huge bowl of greens, then you probably aren’t eating a salad. So have a small scoop of the creamy deli salad if you want, but make sure to also have some fiber-filled, fat-blasting vegetables too (uh, hold the ranch).

2. Follow the 3:1 Water Rule

Not drinking enough water is a direct cause of weight gain. When you factor in the extra calories from the beverages you’re probably drinking instead, you can kiss your weight loss goals good-bye.

The best way I’ve found to keep from getting dehydrated and drinking too many calories at parties is to have three glasses of water for every non-water beverage. You can still enjoy the homemade lemonade or a small soda, but you won’t be guzzling it as a thirst-quencher. (And despite what soda advertisers want you to think, soda is not hydrating!)

3. Cut Meat Portions in Thirds

Grilled chicken, steak, hamburgers, salmon and hotdogs… who can choose? Since there are so many delectable temptations at barbecues, the best way to manage your calories is to cut meat portions into half or thirds as they come off the grill. This way you can have a few different options without overdoing it.

It’s a common misconception that meat is healthy because it has protein, but most meats aren’t that lean. When you start adding bread and sauces, the fattening calories are officially stacked.

Oh, and don’t let the dudes get carried away with the caveman mythMen do not need piles of meat. Government health guidelines recommend a meat portion no bigger than the size of your palm, for guys and girls!

So armed with these three rules, here’s to a summer of fun and healthy barbecues!

Got a healthy BBQ idea for us? Please share it in the comments!

Chelsea Ratcliff on Google+

Chelsea Ratcliff

Chelsea Ratcliff

Writer and expert

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