Friends grilling at a cookout

Healthy cookouts can be full of flavor

Looking forward to cookouts this season? Who isn’t. We’ve got tips from dietitian Erin Cole to help make flavorful and healthy choices when you fire up the grill.

Food choice: It’s all about balance

“Your diet is a bank,” explains Cole. “Where do you want to spend on nutritional intake, and where do you want to save?” If you plan on chowing down on a piece of pie later, you’ll want to budget your nutrition wisely:

  • Start healthy. “Fill up on veggies and fruit first, so when it comes time to eat dessert you’re less likely to eat as much.”
  • Go for grilled meats. Grilling eliminates fat to bring flavorful, healthy protein to your plate.
  • Watch your alcohol consumption. “Just one-and-a-half drinks slows down your body’s fat-burning capabilities by 75%!”
  • You can eat multiple healthier sides for the same calorie count as a single portion of mayo-filled potato or macaroni salad!

Be mindful when eating

“We as humans have a tendency to eat mindlessly,” Cole warns. To avoid overindulging around the picnic table, here are some tips on how to get into a healthier mindset:

  • Plan your trip to the table. “Skim the table to see what appeals to you, so when it’s time to eat you won’t grab every item in sight.”
  • Use smaller plates. This forces you to be choosier about what foods make the cut.
  • Mingle away from the food table. Having conversations next to a table full of food can lead to overeating.
  • Chew gum between plates. Gum keeps your mouth occupied and happy with the flavor, without another trip to the food table.

Enjoy your summer! And, for more tips on eating right, check out Health Minute.