May is National BBQ Month!

Today’s blog post is written by Immaculata University’s Dietetic Intern, Amanda Lentz. 

Memorial Day is almost here, which means barbecue season is right around the corner! Attending a BBQ means enjoying times with family and friends and indulging in good food, but if you’re trying to eat healthy this may seem like an impossible challenge. That’s because BBQs are traditionally known to have foods that are loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and calories. There are still plenty of delicious healthy options that you can enjoy by just paying more attention to the choices you make. Hopefully these tips will help!

When choosing a type of meat, try to look for a lean protein option.  Turkey or chicken has less fat and cholesterol than pork/beef which makes them the healthier options.  If possible, choose a kebab so you can have both meat AND vegetables, which cuts down on the total amount of meat.

Get started by filling half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods like a chopped salad, corn on the cob, and watermelon are good options that you will most likely find at a BBQ. Did you know that corn counts as a vegetable and one cob counts as two servings of vegetables? It’s also high in fiber which makes it an excellent choice!  Just be mindful if adding butter and salt.

A classic staple at a summer BBQ are baked potatoes which are high in carbohydrates, potassium and fiber. If you’re trying to eat healthier, think about the toppings that you add, like butter, sour cream, and cheese. Limit to just a small amount of sour cream or a cheese, since they are higher in fat and calories, but still contribute some protein and calcium.

When it comes to foods to avoid, here are some things to consider:

A common replacement for a hot dog at a BBQ is a bratwurst sausage which is flavorful, juicy and unhealthy. For instance, a 3 oz. bratwurst provides 300 calories and 26 grams of fat. With just one bratwurst, you have just ingested 40% of your daily recommended fat intake.

Potato salads can vary from recipe to recipe. A common home prepared potato salad recipe creates a 1 cup serving size that provides 360 calories and 21 grams of fat. With just 1 cup of potato salad, you have just ingested 32% of your daily recommended fat intake.

Consider this: if you fill your plate with a bratwurst and some potato salad on the side, you have already ingested 72% of your daily recommended fat intake with just TWO foods! Instead, opt for the same volume of food with fewer calories, like healthy fruits, veggies, and lean protein.

The important message is that by being mindful of your choices, you can eat healthy at a BBQ without feeling like you are missing out!