Barbecues are my favorite part of the summer, but sometimes these get-togethers make it too easy to overindulge.

May 26, 2009

By Tina Haupert
Barbecues are my favorite part of the summer; who can resist good friends, good times, and good food? But sometimes these get-togethers make it too easy to overindulge.

Although one day of splurging won't do too much damage, regularly letting loose at BBQs certainly doesn't help with my weight maintenance. I didn't want to wake up Tuesday morning feeling guilty about my diet, so this Memorial Day I made mostly healthy choices. Here's my Feel Great Weight barbecue strategy.

Splurge when it comes to your sips
I eased into the celebration by enjoying a high-quality bottled beer. I used to drink the light variety from the party keg, but I soon realized that it's difficult for me to keep track of how many trips I've taken to refill my cup—meaning I never knew just how many calories I was sipping. Savoring a flavorful 12-ounce bottle is satisfying and instant portion control for me. And I don't have to worry about the lack of quality beer options at barbecues because I often bring my favorite bottled variety to share with the other guests. My host always appreciates having additional beverage options!

Offer to help
I never want to be the girl who shows up with her own veggie burger and whole-wheat bun, so instead, I offer to bring something that everyone can enjoy. My favorite healthy dishes are homemade hummus with pita chips, fruit salad, or a veggie platter with a low-calorie dip. Not only do I get credit for being a conscientious guest, but I also give myself some healthy snacking options. Last weekend, I offered to bring vegetable kebabs to the barbecue. I assembled the skewers with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes, brushed them with olive oil, grilled them for just a few minutes, and served them alongside the hamburgers, hot dogs, and other fare. The kebabs were a hit and everyone seemed to appreciate the nutritious side dish. I paired mine with a small hamburger patty, which I ate open-faced with mustard, salsa, and pickles. The combination of filling veggies and lean protein left me super-satisfied, so I wasn't tempted to go back for seconds. And the best part? I never felt like I was depriving myself.

Get up!
When I finished eating, I got up and played a few yard games with friends and family. Stepping away from the food prevented me from mindlessly munching when I wasn't hungry, and a few games of Polish horseshoes and bocce ball helped me burn some extra calories and gave me a fun way to interact with those at the barbecue.

How do you keep BBQs healthy? Do you have any favorite dishes you like to bring? Tell us below.

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.