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If you’re planning several backyard barbecues this summer, you may be worried about jeopardizing your health and weight loss goals. Rest assured that grilled food can be a very healthy option; just remember to follow a few rules:
Don’t add fat. You already know that deep frying or sauteing foods can sabotage your diet because oils add fat to dishes. Grilling is obviously a superior choice, so long as you don’t make that same mistake. Don’t marinate meats or vegetables in fatty sauces or you risk adding too many calories to the food.
Watch your sodium intake. Another common grilling mistake is adding too much salt to the food. Use garlic or lemon juice instead, and enjoy major flavor without excess sodium.
Choose meats wisely. Avoid fatty meats like ribs, and choose chicken, lean pork chops, fish, or shrimp kabobs. If you’re really craving a steak, look for a cut with less fat. Avoid ribeyes and opt for a lean sirloin instead.
Remember your fruits and veggies. Meat is generally the focus of most barbecues, but don’t forget correct portion sizes! Balance your meal with fruits and veggies so that you’ll avoid over-indulging in fattier foods. Fresh fruit and salads make great side dishes for barbecues, and they’re easy to prepare. Grilled veggie kabobs are another great choice. Remember dishes such as potato salad contain fattening ingredients like mayonnaise, and avoid those or look for low-fat recipes.
Choose a gas grill, if possible. Although grilled foods can be a good option for meeting your weight loss goals, concerns have recently been raised over a possible link between charcoal grills and cancer risk. Using a gas grill is one obvious way to avoid this problem, but if you do prefer charcoal there are some precautions you can take to lower your risk. Clean the grill after each use to avoid a chemical buildup which can transfer to your food. Avoid charring your food, which can cause heterocyclic amines (linked to stomach and colorectal cancer) to form.
Watch out for the usual party-time weight loss saboteurs. Even if you plan your menu carefully, you can easily sabotage your diet in a party atmosphere. Remember drinks contain calories too, and watch out for over-indulgence in beer or sugary mixed drinks. Appetizers are another common problem; position yourself away from open bowls of chips and snacks, because you can easily lose track of how much you’ve eaten. And of course, go easy on the dessert or enjoy some fresh fruit instead.