5 top tips for enjoying BBQs AND managing your weight

Hurray – the summer is here in the UK and it’s also National Barbecue Week!

Time to dust off the BBQ and put up the garden parasol (if you’re pale and a bit ginger like me anyway!)  I love eating outside and making the most of the garden – BBQs are fun and a great excuse to get friends and family round for the afternoon or evening.

Trouble is, if you’re trying to watch your weight they can be a minefield of triggers to overeating and relapse or laden with hidden Kcals!

As usual the first thing I’d say is, enjoy it as a one-off treat; have what you like and balance things out the next couple of days.

However, if you’ve got a few BBQs planned or you’re worried about triggering a relapse back into old habits then check out my top five tips for damage-limitation.

As I always say – a little self-awareness and planning can help you avoid times like this being your ‘downfall’.

1 – Don’t forget the veggies

Think about including some veggies and try to eat them first to help you feel satisfied quicker.  You could try making some veggie kebabs and salads for side dishes – just think about the sauces or marinades you use.  Watch out for chilli sauces and BBQ dips/marinades as they can be loaded with extra sugar (and therefore extra energy) without you realising it.  Which leads me nicely onto my next point.

Veggie kebabs are a great way of including some veggies

2 – Be mindful of salad dressings

Crispy salads make a good accompaniment and contribute towards your fruit & veg intake – a small bowl of salad leaves is one of your 5-a-day.  But don’t forget if you smother that salad with mayo, salad cream or an oily dressing, you are literally pouring on extra Kcals.  Remember all these little extra bits of energy can add up quick and if you don’t burn off the excess energy that’s when you gain weight.  A vinegar based dressing like balsamic vinegar mixed with herbs etc is a low kcal way of flavouring your salad – have a look at the label to see if sugar/oil is added.  Or if you’re having creamy sauces, try being mindful of your portions – check out my healthy eating mini-course here for more info on portion sizes.

3 – Avoid having loads of meat

Sometimes people can get carried away with wanting a little of everything – a burger and a sausage and a chicken kebab and some ribs…  Of course, if you have a bread roll with each one, it can really add up and before you know it you’ve had several days’ worth of carbohydrate and protein in just one meal!  Think about what you fancy most and stick to that, then don’t keep going back for more.

4 – Think about the carbs

If you’re having a bap with that burger or sausage – do you really need to have chips or a jacket spud as well?  A lot of people think that carbs cause us to be overweight, but as with all food it’s about how much you have.  Most people only need around a couple of handfuls of carbohydrate with each meal – that’s one standard burger-bap (or two slices bread).  Think about what you have with the carbs too; obviously chips have added fat, even if they’re oven chips – that crispy coating has to come from somewhere.  Do you need both ketchup AND butter on your bread roll – remember they both provide extra Kcals and little else.  That potato salad covered in mayo will give you loads of extra energy compared to just a plain baked spud.  If you’ve already opted for a bread bun, maybe you could go for the green salad as a side dish instead of the potato/rice/pasta option?

Think about what you’re going to drink

5 – Remember to drink, but not just alcohol!

When it’s warm we need to drink more to stay hydrated and keep our body working properly (including burning fat properly).  If you’re at a BBQ with friends it can be easy to get carried away drinking just alcoholic drinks or lots of sugary drinks.  That alone will rack up the extra energy, but there are other things to think about too.  If you’re drinking only alcohol, then you risk getting dehydrated which can get serious quite quickly when it’s hot.  It will also leave you more likely to pick at food and less likely to keep track of how much you’ve had or exercise some restraint when you know you’ve had enough!  Not to mention the hangover the next day which leaves you less inclined to go to the exercise class you’d planned to go to and more likely to ditch your usual balanced breakfast in favour of a fry-up!  So, be mindful of what you’re drinking – how about alternating the alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or a sugar-free soft drink?


For more tips and support on managing your weight without dieting or restricting yourself, why not join my anti-dieting community?  Sign-up here to get your free copy of my downloadable e-book on self-motivation to help you kick-start your lifelong weight management.  You’ll also get access to my healthy eating mini-course and an invitation to my free Facebook group for mums who are sick of slimming-clubs and faddy diets!  Can’t wait for you to join us.

Louise Tanner-Stokes
Hi I'm Louise, a Food Relationship Coach and registered Dietitian with a passion for helping mums to ditch dieting forever. I help you to eat normally again, enjoy your food and still lose weight.

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