It looks like the good old classic 'British summer' is coming to an end. However, the 28th of this month will be Bank holiday Monday. Maybe time for a family gathering? A little day trip away? Or just an excuse to break out the BBQ stand? After all, we all love the smell of that grill, and if the slightest bit of sun shine breaks out, we're all looking to light one! So perhaps you've been invited to a relative’s BBQ? You might be holding a family reunion? Or you're just simply fed up with boiled chicken breast and would rather that BBQ feeling. You might decide to blow out, enjoy yourself, utilise your cheat meal to the max! However, if you want to remain on track with your diet and healthy eating regime, here's a few little ideas and pointers from myself....
Create Your Own
Rather than buying your typical foods such as burgers and coleslaw, why don’t you create your own? By hand making your own burgers from a good 5% lean mince you could be saving on huge amounts of calories and saturated fats. Add in some onions and spices to the mix and you’ve made a burger that’s healthy yet also tasty and enjoyable! Make your own coleslaw from scratch using your own lower calorie and sugar dressings. Again, saving you on huge amounts of unnecessary sugars and saturated fats. Season and marinate the meats yourself rather than buying pre-marinated meats to save on added salts. Cut off all visible fats before grilling. Put together your own salads rather than purchasing a high sodium ready-made box. Simple things like this can save you on tons of calories, sugars, salts and saturated fats.
A Huge Protein Dose
Surely BBQ food is fine? It's all protein, right? Well, yes and no. If you want to remain on track with your schedule, be aware about the amount of protein you could be consuming. One burger, one sausage, a kebab stick and a chicken breast. From that alone you're probably looking at well over 100 grams of protein. Add in the other foods that have protein present in them and your protein intake for the day could be hit in just one meal! I'm just saying be aware about your other protein sources throughout the day if you’re looking to stick to your current nutrition and protein goals.
Carbs Carbs Carbs
We all love a roll with our burger! It's just two things that are meant to be! However, at this point you could save a few carbs. Treat yourself to only one bun with your burger, or use one half of the bun for the burger and another for the chicken breast, leaving your other meats to go with your side salad or mixed vegetables. In fact, you could go down the healthier route and choose wholegrain buns to serve, which will increase your daily fibre intake and provide you with more nutritional value.
Choosing Leaner Proteins
Chicken breast, turkey mince burgers, tuna steaks, chicken sausages and white fish. All examples of leaner choices when it comes to a BBQ. I’m not saying you can’t have that burger that you’ve been craving, or that sausage that you saw in the fridge, however, bear in mind the added saturated fats and calories that these meats will bring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a balanced diet that does include these kinds of fats, but just be aware if you’re trying to stay on top of your nutrition and calorie intake.
A Side Salad or Mixed Veggies With Colour
Time to get some volume on your meal. This part of the BBQ is a great way to get more nutrients and vitamins into your day without stupidly piling on the calories. Get a variety of colours on your plate. Go green to increase your intake of vitamin K, Potassium and Iron. Orange and yellow to get that hit of vitamin A and C. Finally pick that sliced red pepper on top to give you another boost of vitamin C. To top of this colourful plate, choose the lowest calorie dressing that you have available to you, or perhaps use half the serving of a traditional dressing to make this a more calorie and sugar controlled meal.
The Dressings and Sauces
Hidden calories, salts and sugars. You might have a low calorie and reduced sugar option, however if you don't then just avoid these empty calories or make it damage limitation and have half the normal serving! Have a big dollop of that BBQ sauce and you could be looking at 50 calories alone. It may not sound a lot, however if you add that to the red sauce with your burger and blob of mayonnaise with your salad, the calories, salts and sugars soon start to add up.
Anyone for Desserts?
Go natural here and serve up some chopped fruit. Sliced pineapple and watermelon, chopped up bananas and a dose of blueberries. Yes, it will be all sugars, however, natural sugars in the form of fructose, which will provide your body with a variety of key vitamins and minerals. Berries are a fantastic choice! Not only are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries some of the lowest fruits in terms of carbs, but they also tend to be a huge hit with your guests taste buds! Serve all this with a side of Greek yoghurt instead of double cream and you’ve saved on huge amounts of sugars and calories, whilst also adding some more protein to your day! Skip the dessert if you wish to avoid the sugars, however this option above is a ‘wiser choice’ compared to your typical post BBQ cheesecake and chocolate brownies!
Other things to think about
Are you having a corn on the cob? Then don't butter it. Does the salad already have a dressing? Is the coleslaw homemade? Need a drink? Water being the obvious choice, however you could choose a calorie free drink and feel a little more sociable. A few artificial sweeteners now and then won't kill you. You could even use a smaller plate if it's an option, so that you can keep better portion control of your food. This all may sound silly, however some of these ideas, they really do work!
If you're hosting a BBQ, then you can make the choice about what foods will be there! Which means you can also pre-plan what you're going to have. I've been there and done it. I've stayed on track with my nutrition, counted my calories, proteins, carbs and fats, whilst staying in line with my fitness goals and having a social life! Apps like 'my fitness pal' have a barcode scanner. You can simply scan the food packaging and the nutritional information pops up. Calculate what you're going to have so you can then plan your other foods throughout the rest of the day. Yes, you may have to weigh some foods, say no to some tasty snacks and avoid that beer or cider, however, if you want to stay on top of your nutritional regime then it is very do-able. You just need that bit of will power!
If you want to enjoy yourself this Bank holiday then go for it, save your cheat meal for this one moment that you might get with friends and family. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to try and stick your heathy eating regime if you really want to. After all, it is possible!