Overeating at barbecues is not uncommon, but with some preparation in what you cook and eat, you still can have a healthy experience.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Overeating at barbecues is not uncommon, but with some preparation in what you cook and eat, you still can have a healthy experience.

Your Health: Independence from overeating

Tips for a healthier barbecue

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Like many summer holidays, the Fourth of July often brings with it the tradition of the neighborhood barbecue with family and friends. While events like this can be a lot of fun and a chance to get out and socialize, a cookout also is a frequent excuse to wolf down a lot of food that you may regret later.

With a little forethought, your barbecue experience for the next get-together can be a good time and still reasonably healthy.

There are several online sources for tips to enjoying the party without destroying your diet, among them WebMD, with a list of 10 healthy ideas for the season.

First is for those wearing the chef’s apron, suggesting low-calorie, low-fat ingredients for marinades and other toppings that still will provide an abundance of flavor, including Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, tomato paste, molasses and low-sodium soy sauce.

Another useful hint is to consider putting vegetables on the grill alongside the other entrees.

“The best part about grilling vegetables is that you don't have to worry about overcooking them as you do with some types of meat, and vegetables seem to taste better grilled than they do cooked any other way,” WebMD states.

Marinating items such as asparagus, corn, potatoes, mushrooms and other selections will help enhance their taste, as well.

For those in the crowd who are eating, fruits and vegetables in general are a good idea, with many at their tastiest during the summer. Fruits such as pineapples and peaches can be grilled and topped with cinnamon or brown sugar for a healthier option for the dessert course.

Likewise, nibbling on crudités for appetizers is a better option than heavy breads, chips or crackers if you’re counting calories and want to indulge in the main meal. Dips such as hummus, salsa or vinaigrettes also are preferable to creamy dressings.

When it comes time for the burgers, hot dogs, chicken or other items, a 4-ounce serving about the size of your palm is a good portion size. And, if you’re concerned about overloading your plate, a simple solution is to use a smaller one.

The Small Plate Movement cites that using smaller plates and utensils can have a dramatic effect on people’s food intake. By using a 10-inch plate rather than one that’s 12 inches in diameter, an average of 22 percent fewer calories are eaten, usually with little difference in the eater feeling full.

The time after the meal is crucial, too.

Instead of sitting and digesting, take advantage of the nicer weather to play games in the backyard or park, turn on some music and start dancing or just go for a walk.

After all, a holiday should leave you feeling good.

Note: Lauren Murray, health and wellness coordinator for the Craig Daily Press, also contributed to this article.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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