Your Healthy BBQ Survival Guide

Nutrition // Naomi Jaul // 30 December 2013

Summer: it’s the season of barbecues, picnics and raising a glass (or two) to the festive season. So how can you make sure your health stays a priority when your social life revolves around eating and drinking? Here are five ways to enjoy a healthy BBQ and burn kilos while others burn food.

1. Plan ahead

A little preparation goes a long way when you’re heading out for a barbecue or picnic. Start the day right with a decent breakfast and you won’t turn up starving and ready to dive into the Doritos. If it’s been a while between meals, have a snack before heading out the door—something like yoghurt and some sliced banana is perfect: the protein will keep you fuller against the hunger-inducing effects of alcohol, while potassium in the banana will help balance any extra salt intake (olives, anyone?).

2. Make A Healthy Menu

Whether it’s a bring-a-plate picnic or a full-blown barbecue, there’s always space for healthy options on the groaning buffet table. What’s the best way to make a menu instantly healthier? Bump up the amount of veggies on offer. Here are a few healthy suggestions:

  • For nibbles, try vegetable crudités with yoghurt-based dips, salsa and olives.
  • When it comes to mains, opt for green-heavy salads like our Kale, Macadamia and Tomato Salad with Avocado Dressing over carb-laden salads with creamy dressings (sorry, potato salad), and try warm veggie-based sides like Steamed Greens with Soy, Sesame & Ginger.
  • Say bye-bye to fatty sausages and go for lean meats, like chicken, turkey and seafood.
  • For a sweet treat afterwards, try a luscious tropical fruit plate and dark chocolate-dipped strawberries, or give a traditional dessert a healthy twist with this Christmas Pudding recipe.

3. Balance Your Plate

You don’t have to deny yourself your mum’s pasta salad – you just need to watch your portion sizes. Aim to fill half your plate with salad, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with carbs. And move away from the spread when you’ve filled your plate – it’s all too easy to keep picking.

How to Beat Proportion Disorder

4. Watch Those Liquid Calories

Even if you’ve eaten healthily, by downing soft drink and a few alcoholic bevvies you could easily consume an extra meal’s worth of calories. That’s not to say you should avoid drinking altogether. Just remember: thirst signals can be confused with hunger. Stay hydrated with still or sparkling water, as alcohol has a dehydrating effect. Soft drinks and juices spike your blood sugar levels, making you hungry and putting your body into fat storage mode.

When it comes to alcohol, you don’t need to nix the festive drinks altogether if you drink smart. Try this trick:

– Swap sugary mixers for soda water and fresh lime in cocktails. Go half-half in wines for a refreshing spritzer and fill your glass with it in between alcoholic drinks.

5. Sneak In Exercise

Picnics are the perfect backdrops for playing active games – pack a Frisbee, a cricket bat or even a bocce set for fun that gets you moving. Go for a wander with a friend after the meal for a one-two punch: a stroll will aid digestion, and get you away from the lingering food! And if you know you’ve got a weekend of barbecues galore coming up, try adding an extra 10 minutes to your workouts the week prior. The amped-up calorie burning will prepare your body for the ‘BBQ Battle of the Bulge’.

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