Tips to Host a Better & Healthier BBQ

by Allison J Stowell MS, RD, CDN ; Updated August 29, 2018

An afternoon barbecue is the symbol of summer: Firing up the grill and filling your yard with the smell of delicious food, fun games and the feeling that there's nowhere else you need to be.

Of course, a barbecue also means hours of drinking and eating high-calorie beverages and not-so-healthy foods. The combination of the summer sun and long afternoons make it easy to consume more than you mean to. But with a few swaps, you can save some calories — and your waistline:

Build a Better Burger

  • Instead of a regular bun, try whole-wheat sandwich flats.
  • Instead of 80-percent lean ground beef, try 90-percent lean ground sirloin.

Read More: 6 Pinterest-Worthy Fruity (and Healthy!) Drinks

Build a Better Beverage

  • Instead of sweetened lemonade, try flavored seltzer water with splash of lemonade.
  • Instead of fruit juice with tons of extra added sugars, try adding frozen juice cubes to your water or seltzer.
  • Instead of heavy beers or other alcoholic drinks, try lighter versions.

Whatever you choose to drink, make sure to drink one glass of water for every beverage you consume to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Read More: Cheers to These Healthy Beers

Build a Better Side Salad

  • Instead of white-flour pastas, try whole-wheat pasta or high-protein grains like quinoa or faro.
  • Instead of creamy dressings, try nonfat Greek-yogurt-based dressings.

Build a Better Grilled Menu

  • Instead of a carb-rich side, try cooking a healthy side like grilled avocados.
  • Instead of rich desserts, try grilling your fruit (and even adding a side of light ice cream).
  • Instead of corn covered in butter, try ditching the butter to get the full corn taste.
  • Instead of meats, try grilling portobello mushroom "burgers."
  • Instead of sugary barbecue sauces, try salt-free spice rubs.

Read More: 9 Must-Know Indoor Grilling Hacks

Final Tips:

  • Use a plate: Don't eat straight out of a bag, box or bowl, because you won't know how much you're eating.
  • Friends hosting a BBQ and not sure what's going to be served? Bring a healthy dish. You'll be helping out the host and making sure you've got at least one healthy choice. That's two birds with one stone!

What Do YOU Think?

What are your favorite summer barbecue dishes? How do you make sure you don't eat or drink too many high-calories foods? Do you have lighter, low-fat versions of your favorites? Leave a comment below and let us know.

About the Author

Allison Stowell, M.S., RD, CDN, is the registered dietitian for the Guiding Stars Licensing Company, a company devoted to helping you find the good, better and best choices at the supermarket. A working mom of two, Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight.