6 Tips For Not Regretting Your 4th of July BBQ

by | Jun 27, 2012
Blueberries & Raspberries

Blueberries & Raspberries

Holidays are for celebrating and are meant to be enjoyed, but you don’t have to sacrifice your health or beach body every time you attend a BBQ. These 6 BBQ survival tips can save you hundreds of calories you won’t even miss, and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

6 Healthy Eating Tips For Your 4th of July BBQ

1. Use small plates

Research clearly shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50% fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction. Try borrowing a plate from the kids table or the dessert tray.

2. Eat slowly and mindfully

People who eat more slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you’re chatting, the less you’re eating.

3. Eat healthiest foods first

If you are eating slowly and off small plates, you may as well fill up on the healthiest stuff first. Salads are a great place to start because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.

4. Skip the chips, crackers and bread

Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff.

You don’t have to eat your burger without a bun, but pass on the pointless chips and other snacks that lure you when you’re not thinking. If you’re feeling bored, grab a Frisbee instead.

5. Keep dessert small

The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. And to reiterate, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You don’t have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course.

6. Think before you drink

There is a place for alcohol in a healthy lifestyle, but making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? Stick with wine or beer, drink plenty of water and remember to pace yourself.

Small tricks can save you hundreds and potentially thousands of wasted calories that you will never notice or miss. Why sacrifice a good time when you can just upgrade your healthstyle?


What are your favorite tips to eat healthy at a BBQ?

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25 Responses to “6 Tips For Not Regretting Your 4th of July BBQ”

  1. Katie says:

    Great advice Darya! I agree, the 4th of July is one of those holidays that its easy to overdo things; I like your advice about the beverages, I always try to save on calories by just drinking water or Crystal Light; anyone have thoughts on Crystal Light, I feel like I’ve heard rumors that it causes cancer.

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks for the advice. But if I do want to have chips/crackers/breads/carbs, what do you recommend?

    • Darya Pino says:

      Have what you like, just keep in mind it isn’t the healthiest thing you can eat. If you want an actual alternative, homemade popcorn is my favorite =D

      • Mike says:

        That’s a great idea! I love popcorn, and Trader Joe’s even has a great microwave popcorn that is minimally buttered. And its impossible to get fat off popcorn, right?

      • Monica says:

        Apparently you don’t even need to buy bags of (pre-“buttered”) popcorn to make quick popcorn in your microwave. If you buy loose popping corn, put it into a small paper lunch bag, and loosely roll down the top of the bag, you can pop that in the microwave just fine (sans any oils at all). Just keep an eye/ear to the microwave as its popping…when the popping slows down, stop the microwave and pull out your treat.

        Then you can add whatever kind and amount flavorings you like (light olive oil and parmesan is delicious for example) and avoid what is often fake butter flavored with diacetyl … I am not sure if there are substantiated negative effects for eating diacetyl, but there’s indication that people who work in food factories inhaling this stuff daily have lung problems as a result…and so maybe fake butter is something to avoid for someone else’s health risk at least.

      • Monica says:

        (I should add that diacetyl is naturally occurring in real butter and is in fact part of what makes dairy fat so delicious…so I have no concern about consuming the molecule in a general sense…I assume dose makes the poison).

  3. doug says:

    Shish kebobs! You add lots of veggies to whatever meat is featured, and the whole stick generally isn’t that much food. And it’s all very tasty.

  4. doug says:

    Also, if you’re going to eat chips, you get a lot more taste per chip if you make your own, plus you control the type of tortilla and oil you use. They come out flaky like pastry and a handful fills you up, especially if eat with a good fresh salsa. Still not exactly health food, but…

  5. Chandra says:

    Wonderful post, Darya! I’m very glad I checked your blog out before heading out for festivities.

  6. Emmy says:

    for anyone who like crackers (that includes me!) Kamut crackers are AMAZING. i find them much more digestible than wheat and they taste sooooo much better. they also keep you full for ages and have a lower calorific value than wheat/spelt for some reason.
    they also cost a B****y fortune and come in small packages – so maybe not the worlds best party food (unless u bring a personal supply :) ) but that makes them much harder to overdo…. It sounds really naff but setting yourself a strict weekly food budget and buying expensive food, is one of my key tips for imposing moderation and self control!

  7. Stephen Wise says:

    This time, you had me at Wine & Beer.

  8. Berthold says:

    No bread huh? I don’t know if I’ll become a fan of that. For me, flatbread or baguette and garlic butter belong to a BBQ just as much as the meat itself. I guess if you’re not eating BBQ every night, you can be a little more lenient as to what you eat, right?

  9. Grok says:

    Eat the fruit first. Carbs to satiate and kill your processed junk sweet tooth, water to keep you hydrated in the heat :)

  10. Rachel says:

    I have not one but two of these this weekend. Since I’m not that into bbq, I don’t really feel like splurging but will have to eat something at these things. Any suggestions for a dish I could bring to the table as a dish for everyone that I could mainly stick to without seeming to have food issues? I’ll have a bite here and there, I’d just rather save the unhealthy stuff for something I’d actually enjoy…

    • Darya Pino says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Bean, lentil or grain (quinoa or farro) salads are always really popular (if you use good ingredients) and filling. Just mix in fresh veggies like carrots, radish, cucumber, tomato, squash, arugula, etc. and toss with a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine (or rice) vinegar, green onion and either Dijon or miso. Add some herbs (parsley or cilantro are perfect), salt and pepper and bingo!

      Alternatively, almost everything grilled is pretty healthy. Bring your own veggie/shrimp skewers for a light, healthy meal. Marinate in soy sauce and garlic or something tangy.

      • Rachel says:

        Great! I’ll just see what they have at the farmers market tomorrow and throw some of it in with some quinoa, since I have some. (I love farro but haven’t been able to find it at my local health food stores.) But that sounds like a good plan. Thanks, as always.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Curry vinaigrette is particularly good on quinoa. Add 1-2 tsp to 2:1 olive oil to rice vinegar. It’s nice with a little ginger, coriander and cilantro! A touch of garlic too.

  11. Thanks for all these great tips! Now I’m really looking forward to iur 4th of July feast! Eating slowly lets you savor all the flavors, especially in bbq.I always eat fruits first in every meal. The nutrients are easily absorbed by the body right?

  12. One suggestion I’d add here is that meat has a lot of calories in it, so portion size is important. The trick of using the size of your fist as a measure of what’s a sensible portion of meat to eat is pretty useful. It’s especially useful as a reminder when eating BBQ, cos it’s so easy to go completely over the top without realizing it.

  13. Dee says:

    Darya, you think of everything … So smart! Thanks sweeti

  14. Amanda B says:

    Since it’s the season for bbqs you’ll likely have a few to attend. It’s also likely that there’s going to be similar bbq staples at each event. My tactic is to determine which item I’ll indulge in at one picnic and pick something different for the next picnic. For instance, I might allow a burger at one, then chicken at the next. Or macaroni salad at one then a potato salad at the next. This tactic allows me to indulge and not feel deprived of all my picnic favorites.

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