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Written by Kanika Kohli| Reviewed by Adiana Castro, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT

Summer is finally here and it’s time to be outdoors to get some sun. Weather you are planning on hitting the beach or going out for picnics and barbeques you need to keep in mind that summer does not give us an excuse to eat poorly.  It is very easy to make poor food choices when outdoors, especially with fast foods and sugar-laden foods being ubiquitous.

So to make sure we eat well when outdoors, we need to plan ahead and carry foods and snacks that not only taste good but also are nutritious.

Here are some tips to help you eat healthy through the summer season.

Tips to eat healthy at a BBQ

Contribute something that's good for you: if you bring a healthy dish/snack, you know you will be able to eat something nutritious, no matter how decadent the other dishes are.

·      Make or Bring your own salad: BBQ’s are notorious for having salads of every type, most of which are salads by name only such as pasta salad, taco salad, macaroni salad, and potato salad. So, bringing a green-based salad with an olive oil/lemon juice/vinaigrette dressing will ensure you have a healthy option for salad.

·      Make or bring a healthy appetizer: Chips and dips are enjoyable to eat but can load up on calories, so make sure to bring at least one healthy appetizer like vegetables and hummus to munch on while the grill is firing up.

2.     Fill up on vegetables and healthy items first: Try to load up on the green salads or grilled vegetables first before you fill your plate with high calorie foods (ribs etc.), doing so will not only give you a dose of antioxidants and fiber, you will also be less likely to overeat the higher calorie foods.

3.     Choose lean protein and healthy fats: Lean protein and health fats help you to feel fuller than carbohydrates, so enjoy a lean beef burger, a piece of chicken or fish and some tofu.

4.     Be mindful and eat slowly: eating slowly will prevent you from overeating

5.     Watch portion size: Here are 3 easy points of reference

·      A tennis ball or clenched fist = one cup. This measure is useful for sides such as pasta salad, potato salad or Cole slaw. Aim for 1cup total of these starchy (often calorie laden) side dishes.

·      A deck of cards = 3 ounces of meat or 1 serving. This measure is useful for food like steak.

·      Your thumb = about 1 tablespoon. This is good for estimating salad dressing or spread.

6.     Watch those liquid or alcohol calories: Sweet and sugary drinks can load up on calories (have a few hundred calories), so make sure you don't overdo it.

7.     Go easy on dessert: If there is something like fresh fruit being served take that first and then go for the dessert.

TipTips to pack healthy snacks for the beach or a picnic

Summer picnics and beach outings occur at the peak of the fresh fruit and vegetable season. This is the time to add color to your meals and to fill your picnic basket or beach cooler with fresh produce like peaches, mangoes, berries, cherries, watermelon, tomatoes, avocados, corn, zucchini, peas and fresh herbs – they are not only packed with antioxidants but also taste delicious.

Carry Light and crunchy appetizers

·      Pack crisp raw veggies like cucumber, carrots, celery, asparagus tips, cherry tomatoes and radishes and enjoy them with nutritious dips like hummus, salsa, eggplant dip, bean dip, avocado dip or Greek yogurt with herbs and spices.

·      Carry wholegrain crackers such as oat crisps instead of high fat chips and enjoy them with nutritious dips.

2.     Carry wraps/sandwiches as a main dish: Wraps are easy to transport and eat, and can be super nutritious when made with whole grain tortilla/bread, lean protein, veggies and homemade Ranch dressing or salsa.

3.     Carry nutritious snacks like

·      Greek Yogurt

·      Granola

·      Fresh fruits/frozen fruits

·      Ruby rocket’s frozen veggie and fruit pops

·      Wholegrain crackers with nut butter or cheese

·      Trail mix

       4. Carry lots of frozen/cold water bottles

Stay hydrated

It is very easy to get dehydrated without even knowing it when you are outdoors

(BBQ, beach or picnic) in the sun, that's why it is very important to make sure you consume plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid getting dehydrated.

A strategy to avoid dehydration is to carry a water bottle to sip on water regularly.


Compass Nutrition