Summer is in full swing and backyard barbecues are a popular activity this time of year. Unfortunately, these gatherings are often full of high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie options, like hamburgers, hot dogs, potato chips, alcohol and desserts. Consuming these types of foods and beverages can really put a halt on your weight loss progress. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make healthier barbeques that you can fully participate in and enjoy with the rest of your family and friends without falling off the wagon, so to speak.
Greasy hamburgers, brats or hot dogs are not only high in fat and calories, but they also may not agree with your stomach after having bariatric surgery. Instead, try grilling a leaner protein source, such as fish or chicken. Salmon, tuna, and grouper are all great grilling options and provide you with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Veggie burgers, turkey burgers or Portobello mushroom burgers are also wonderful options. To make these high protein items extra delicious and ensure that they are nice and tender when they come off the grill, try marinating them ahead of time.
For sides, a fruit or vegetable kabob on the grill is a delicious and nutritious option. Try onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms for a vegetable kabob. Peaches, nectarines, pineapples, strawberries and melons are all great options for a fruit kabob. You can experiment with any fruits or vegetables that you enjoy eating. You may even make the kabobs your entire meal if you put some lean protein on the skewer along with your fruits and vegetables.
If you prefer to not grill your fruits, pick several of your favorite fruits, chop them up and mix them together in a simple fruit salad – no dressing or sweeteners needed. In moderation, tortilla chips with fresh guacamole and salsa can be a good option. For a different flavor, try a homemade fruit salsa or raw vegetables with hummus. If you’re having a salad, aim to use low-fat or fat-free dressings and use them sparingly. Leave off the croutons, bacon bits, cheese and other high calorie toppings. Prepare beans without bacon or brown sugar and instead season them with tomatoes, jalapenos and other spices.
For a sweet treat, wash some berries and top them with a light whipped cream or make a sugar-free low-fat ice cream. Other options are fat-free, no-sugar-added frozen yogurt, a sugar-free Popsicle or sugar-free snow cone.
Go light on drinks by offering ice water with lemon, orange, mint or cucumber slices in it. This makes the water even more refreshing on a hot summer day. Make fresh squeezed lemonade, sweetened with Splenda (or other artificial sweetener) or some refreshing unsweetened iced tea. Avoid alcoholic beverages as these contain empty calories that can quickly ruin your weight loss efforts. Alcohol can sometimes wreak the most havoc on weight loss efforts at these barbeques, so your best bet is to “just say no.”
Barbeques can be a fun gathering of friends and family, but don’t forget about the dietary “rules” that go along with bariatric surgery. Get your lean protein in first, be mindful of your portions, chew your foods thoroughly, stop drinking 30 minutes before your meal and don’t drink until at least 30 minutes after your meal. Follow these rules during your BBQ and you’ll have a healthy meal while enjoying your company and the warm weather!