BBQ Tips for Grilling Season


One of my absolute favorite summer activities is inviting people over for a day of grilling. While a BBQ doesn’t usually translate to healthy eating, there are a few small habits we can adopt to make our grilling experience both savory and healthy. Enjoy the month of July, also know as the grilling month! 

Enjoy the BBQ 3-Step Process. Happy 4th everybody! 

Step 1: Before the BBQ

a.) Don’t Skip Meals to “Save” Calories for Later. Hunger and low blood sugar can cloud your judgment thus leading to overeating and poor food choices. Ensure that you have a small, balanced meal before the big event.

b.) Ask The Host What Is On the Menu. By knowing what will be served, you can plan ahead and prioritize your food choices. This will also give you the opportunity to fill in the gaps with healthier, lighter food choices. Some easy substitutions could be leafy green salad instead of potato salad, jicama/celery/carrot strips instead of chips, or guacamole instead of cheese dip. Pictured are grilled vegetables and a cheese-less pizza with fresh tomato paste, asparagus and zucchini. 

Step 2: During the BBQ  

a)      When Cooking Any Meats, Always Add Herbs and Spices. When meat is cooked over high heat (i.e. grilling) it creates a compound called malondialdehyde, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. By rubbing antioxidant-rich oregano, rosemary, parsley, black pepper, paprika or garlic on meats, you can reduce up to 71% of this nasty compound, as per a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Note: Vegetables are malondialdehyde-free! 

b)     Practice Mindless Portion Control (seriously)!By eating from small plates such as salad or dessert plates, or using chopsticks as utensils, you will eat less without even noticing! Studies have shown up to a 50% decrease in caloric intake without a change in fullness or satisfaction.  

c)      Fill up on Lighter Foods First. Don’t get me wrong,I’m allfor indulging in a burger at a BBQ. But to decrease your chances of overeating, try having your salad and vegetables, which are high in fiber and water content and low in calories, first. This will slow down your digestion and help you to feel full faster.  

d)     Mingle! Standing burns more calories than sitting, so get up and socialize!

e)      Don’t Drink All Your Calories.Be smart about what you drink. Mixed drinks (12oz), such as a Dark & Stormy or a Margarita, are extremely caloric, with 320 to 540 calories, respectively.


Try these simple tricks to lower your caloric intake:

  • Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
  • Ditch all added sugars in mixed drinks, for example try a sugarless-mojito. 
  • Get creative with flavors – add basil, mint, lemon, lime or orange slices to your drink.
  • Use flavored seltzer instead of soda.

Rule of thumb:

  • 1 glass of wine (5oz) = 100 calories
  • 1 beer (12oz) = range from 90-150 calories
  • Liquor without mixer (1oz) = 60-70 calories

Step 3: After the BBQ

a)      Fix It At the Next Meal. So you may have overindulged at the BBQ after all. Don’t give up on your entire weekend just yet. Practice portion control the next day. Fill at least half of your plate with fresh or grilled vegetables. 

b)     Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water is my drink of choice (add fresh basil for flavor), but coconut water is a great natural option. If you decide to have an energy drink, dilute it with water.

c)      Take a Walk. Physical activity will help you detox and burn off calories.

What are your favorite BBQ tips?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD . Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr. 


6 Jedi Mind Tricks That Convince People To Eat Healthy. Summer Tomato.   

Synergistic summer food pairings can boost health benefits. USA Today.

Antioxidant-rich spice added to hamburger meat during cooking results in reduced meat, plasma, and urine malondialdehyde concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Tips for a Healthy and Happy 4th of July.  Time.

Edited by TCabrarr