By Carine Sidhom, MS, RDN
Summer is here! School is out, the sun is shining, and the beach is buzzing.
Alas, barbecue season is upon us.
Barbecues, potlucks and summer celebrations all call for fun and excitement,
but these activities can be challenging for individuals trying to make
healthy changes to their diets. Life and food are meant to be enjoyed,
and with the right planning, you can take part in all the festivities
summer has to offer while remaining in control of your health.
Make the Most out of Your Summer with Some Easy Nutrition Tips for Your
Next Barbecue or Beach Outing!
1. Balance your meals
- Do your best to incorporate protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables,
and whole grains in every meal.
- This will help ensure adequate nourishment and maintain the feeling of
fullness until your next meal.
2. Incorporate high-fiber sides
with your meals
Potlucks and BBQs make for great opportunities to serve a nutritionally
dense side. Here are a few ideas!
- Cool off with some frozen fruit chunks – they’re portable,
easy to store, and require limited prep time!
- Indulge your sweet tooth and try something new such as grilled fruits –
this will release the sweet, natural sugars of the fruit and make for
a surprisingly delicious treat! Fruits like persimmons, pineapple, and
peaches work great!
- Serve up some freshly sliced veggies with a Greek yogurt “ranch” dip
- Prepare a bean or zesty quinoa salad, or some fresh succotash
3. Try home-made versions of your favorite side dishes and swap out some
ingredients for a more healthful alternative
- Try whole grain rotini in your pasta salad, experiment with yogurt-based
dressings for coleslaw, or make baked beans with little to no sugar or
- Swap out those white, refined buns for a whole grain bun with your burger
or hot dog.
- Look for no sugar added ketchup and BBQ sauce with limited sugar. You could
even try making your own sauces and marinades to control the salt, sugar,
and fat content.
- Try flavoring your food without salt. Herbs and spices like basil, bay
leaf, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dry mustard, oregano, onion
powder, paprika, thyme, or pre-made salt-free seasoning blends can add
plenty of flavor to your dish!
4. Protect your cardiovascular health by opting for leaner cuts of meat,
plant-based protein, and other alternatives for the grill
By limiting animal protein, in particular red meats, you can avoid high
intake of saturated fats which pose a threat to your cardiovascular health:
- Try lean cuts of beef, skinless chicken, turkey dogs, or veggie dogs.
- Make your own burger patties with 80% or 90% lean ground beef or ground
turkey breast – add vegetable shreds to your burger mix for added fiber.
- Experiment with plant-based proteins such as tempeh, seitan, tofu, or veggie burgers.
- Be sure to check nutrition labels for sodium content of processed meats
and prepackaged plant based alternatives to meat.
- Grill up some fish like salmon for variety and an extra dose of omega-3
– or try something different such as Chilean Sea Bass or Branzino.
- Make kabobs– you can add shrimp, chicken, or veggies such as bell
peppers, onion, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini… get creative!
- Always practice safe grilling – keep your grill clean and avoid charring
your foods as burnt protein and fat drippings can be a harmful to your health.
5. Stay Hydrated
It can be easy to forget to hydrate enough throughout the day – especially
when you’re out all day! These simple tips can help.
- Carry a water bottle so hydrating is easily accessible.
- Prepare “spa water” at home. Spa water is a great way to cool
down, hydrate, and have fun! Some popular recipes include adding citrus,
cucumber, or mint to a jug of ice cold water, but you can get as creative
as you like! It is important to keep your spa water cool to stay food safe.
- Consider flavored water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda
and sweet tea
6. Pack some snacks if you know you’re going to be out all day
Packing snacks gives you control over your intake. Ensuring adequate nourishment
throughout the day can regulate hunger and prevent over-eating at meals.
Below are some snack ideas:
- Nuts and/or seeds alongside some fresh fruit
- Cheese or avocado on whole grain crackers
- Baked pita chips and hummus
- Granola over plain yogurt with a dollop of honey
- Freshly popped popcorn – without the added salt and butter of course!
Stay active, enjoy the day, and remember that each meal is an opportunity
to nourish your body!
For more information or a personalized nutrition plan, contact one of our
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the
Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., 3rd Floor, Suite 335. Telephone (310) 891-6707. We accept self-referrals through our Nutrition Education and Wellness Program.