ask the nutritionist: healthy eating at a BBQ

It seems like every time I turn around, we’ve got another Summer get-together on the calendar. In Minnesota it is completely normal to hibernate throughout the winter and then spend as much time outside as possible, in addition to socializing with your friends, during the summer. (Yes, the winter is that cold and we do what we can to not leave home.)

While I always enjoy and appreciate these get-togethers, between drinks, desserts and burgers, my normal eating habits seem to struggle a bit. Here are some tips to keep some balance to your diet in the midst of summer parties!

  • Don’t stand by the food table! If you are there, you will nibble.
  • Keep the drinks to a minimum – once you move past two drinks inhibitions will be lowered, not to mention the calories will start adding up!
  • Decide what you really want to eat – is it a burger? Is it your Mom’s famous cupcakes? Pick one and then keep everything else on the healthy side.
  • Skip the bun! Buns are rarely worth it to me.
  • Fill up on veggie sides – I like to bring either a side dish, salad or snack that has veggies so I know I have some.
  • Enjoy the company! That is the real reason for get-togethers after all, isn’t it?
  • If you overdo it, move on and wake up the next morning to a new day!

Do you have any tips to add?


  1. says

    Love the attitude! While I don’t exactly hybernate during the winter, it’s definitely hard for me to stay inside during the few nice months that we have. I’ve been taking full advantage of my back porch and the grill!!

  2. says

    One more tip: carry a bottle of water, or a can of diet soda, or juice. That way, instead of nibbling constantly, you take sips and it’ll usually satisfy you enough from over-eating! :-)

  3. says

    I agree with Sophia – H20 is my barbecue savior – and I’m always carrying a glass in my hand. If you are consuming alcohol, make sure to switch off between a beer (light, have you tried the new Bud light yet!?) and a glass of water.
    And please … my weekends are anything but expected and generally spontaneous! Jetsetting to Washington D.C. is not the norm!

  4. says

    i love the summer bbq! i don’t think you can fully appreciate it unless you live thru a craptastic, minnesota winter. anyway, love all the tips mentioned and the ones mellissa and sophia added.

  5. says

    I really like these tips. Especially: “Decide what you really want to eat – is it a burger? Is it your Mom’s famous cupcakes? Pick one and then keep everything else on the healthy side.”
    This makes things much easier for me. I would hate to feel like I’m missing out ever but sometimes I completely overdo it. Picking one thing – like a big juicy burger – and then sticking to healthy makes me so much happier than trying to eat everything in sight!

    And I HEAR you on the Minnesota truths. I don’t leave home in the winter and this summer has been ridiculously packed. This weekend is another cabin weekend – my exercise dedication is suffering the most!

  6. says

    I wish we could enjoy the outside in the summer here, but mostly we are stuck inside with the AC and then venture out more in the fall/winter! lol Great tips! I always try to fill half my plate with veggies and go for things I’m really craving. Have a nice weekend!

  7. says

    i like to have a little bit of everything – so i’m not above asking for a knife to cut things into smaller portions, or asking people to share with me (or for a bite of someone’s dish) then i don’t feel like i’m “missing out” on anything.

  8. says

    These are fabulous tips! I especially like the one about skipping the bun – the refined flour is often tasteless and textureless and a waste, anyway.

    My tip is that whenever I know I’m going out, I’ll have a fiberrific snack beforehand so I don’t go overboard. Apples are my favorite :)

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