How to Eat a Healthy Barbecue

With summer comes the inevitable barbecue season, which brings out the glutton in everyone. Steaks and spare ribs, mayo-laden potato and macaroni salads, and unrestrained drinking result in increasingly expanding waistlines, and subsequent regret.

If you’re a healthy eater, or on a diet, the prospect of attending a barbecue can be nightmarish – calories, grease, and liberal amounts of alcohol, just waiting to tempt you. However, if you employ a fair bit of restraint, and use a few clever tactics, you can easily enjoy a healthy outdoor feast without packing on the pounds.


  • 1

    Meat is the star of the show at any barbecue, but is not exactly high on the list of healthy things to eat. Opt for leaner cuts of meat that contain less fat, and if you can manage it, avoid red meat completely and have a healthy barbecue with meats such as chicken, and seafood such as shrimp and fish. Use denser types of fish, like monkfish and salmon, when grilling.

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  • 2

    If you’re looking for low-fat side dishes, or simple aiming to go all out healthy, toss a couple of vegetables on to the grill, like mushrooms, corn (sans butter), cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and aubergines. Summer squash, zucchini, brussel sprouts, sweet peppers, and pineapple are also great for grilling.

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  • 3

    Every barbecue contains a variety of salads, and while this might sound promising, a closer look will convince you otherwise – these generally involve options such as taco salad, macaroni salad, and potato salad, all of which are laden with calories. Try having a real salad for a change, such as a carrot and radish salad, or an avocado and grapefruit salad.

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  • 4

    Chips, french fries, mashed potatoes, and potato salad are integral side dishes for grilled meat, but potatoes can be exceedingly fattening, especially when coupled with oil, cheese, and cream. Cut down on the fat by using sweet potato instead of regular potatoes, to make your barbecue healthier. You can also go for items such as kale chips – your waistline will thank you for it.

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  • 5

    Go easy on the BBQ sauce, which contains high amounts of sugar and calories. You can also opt to cut out the BBQ sauce entirely, and choose other healthier alternatives, such as a vinegar or mustard based sauce, or using guacamole instead of mayo. Marinating your meat in a mixture of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a variety of herbs and spices can be equally delicious, and fat-free.

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  • 6

    Be smart about the amount of alcohol you consume. While booze is a given at most barbecues, there’s no need to drink down everything that’s placed in front of you. Instead, go into the barbecue with a plan – e.g. plan to have only one drink per hour, and sip slowly to make one drink last longer.

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  • 7

    Don’t forget your resolve to go healthy when it comes to dessert. Those cookies, cakes, and pies might look tempting, but a fresh and healthy fruit salad drizzled with honey and lemon, or creative options such as grilled cinnamon apples, will be equally satisfying for your sweet tooth.

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  • 8

    Finally, if you happen to be at a barbecue where you have no control over what is served, and there are little to no healthy options available, simply watch your portions. Make sure you don’t binge eat or gorge yourself silly. Instead, take a look at all the options available, select small portions of the healthier foods on offer, and watch your calorie intake.

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