Tips for a healthy barbecues

Smart sides for the BBQ:

Barbeque season is fast approaching, which means it's time to gather your family and friends, and fire up the grill. But oftentimes these cookouts are nothing short of a feast, and trying to maintain your beach body can become a battle. There is no reason you shouldn't be able to have fun and eat in a way that is in line with your health and wellness goals.

Many don't realize there are things you can do before you even make it to the party. The key to eating right is setting up a plan that guarantees success. Make it work!

    Eat before you go: Walking into a BBQ ravenous is a recipe for disaster. Eating a small balanced snack consisting of some protein and carbohydrate will allow you to enjoy the fun without overeating.

    Get a workout in: Make the most of your day by getting some exercise earlier in the day. Even it is just a 30 minute walk-burn some calories so you feel confident and empowered when you walk into the party.

    Do some investigating: There is nothing wrong with giving the host a quick call to find out what is going to be on the menu. This allows you to be prepared and ready with a plan for the day. If there will be no sides that work for you, bring a smart side yourself. It is a potluck right? Or, eat a little extra before you get there so you don't splurge too much.
In order to have fun and stay focused on your goals, finding smart sides will keep your barbeque sizzlin' without leaving you stuffed with guilt.

Some examples include:
  • Healthier potato chips: Popchips are never fried, never baked, potato popped chips. These chips are light and airy, and give snackers a lot more chips per serving, making them the ideal barbeque snack. (Jae is a consultant with popchips)

  • Whole grain hamburger buns: Instead of the traditional hamburger buns which is made up of highly processed white flour, choose a bun that is made with whole grains filled with fiber and more nutrition. More bang for your buck!

  • Real Guacamole: Many guacamole dips are utter imposters, in some cases containing less than 2 percent real avocado. Instead, they're made with cheap powders, hydrogenated oils, chemicals that leave your stomach confused and can delay the trigger of feeling full. Serve the real guacamole made with avocado, lemon juice, chilies, cilantro, chopped tomato, chopped red onion and salt and pepper to taste. You'll not only save calories and fat grams, but you'll also get all the heart-healthy benefits you would miss out on with the other faux-guacs.

  • A twist on potato salad: Loading potato salad with sour cream and mayo changes a simple starch dish into a fat laden side. Adding mustard, vinegar, spices and fresh vegetables instead cuts the calories and fat and add loads of flavor.

  • Salsa is free! There are virtually no calories in salsa: Choose pico de galle, salsa verde, mango salsa or even roasted red pepper to load the flavor to a burger or veggie dish without the calories or guilt of a cheese or ranch dip.

  • Pasta salad without the cheese: This is a family favorite. We eat this at every family event. A simple quinoa dish filled with Mediterranean flavors such as sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, red peppers, spinach and pine nuts adds for a flavorful side without the saturated fat found in mac n cheese.

  • Southern perspective on coleslaw: Instead of the tradition coleslaw that is dripping with mayo consider a southwestern spin on things using cabbage, carrots, radishes, cilantro, green onion, olive oil, lemon juice and chilies for spice.
Don't forget fresh produce! Be sure to have plenty of fresh cut vegetables and fruit for people to snack on. Much smarter than a cheese plate!

About Jae Berman, MS, RD:

As Western Athletic Club's Regional Registered Dietitian for San Francisco and Marin, Jae Berman, MS, RD motivates and empowers clients to achieve break-throughs in personal health, fitness, wellness and life-balance-on their own terms.

Her goal is to create programs that allow her clients to have a positive relationship with food, and therefore a positive relationship with their bodies.

Jae is also a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor, and carefully integrates her understanding of these disciplines into customized fitness programs for clients. Her specialties include nutrition for weight loss, wellness, sports nutrition, cardiovascular nutrition, digestive disorders, eating disorders and blood glucose control.

Jae holds a master's degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition at Columbia University, and completed her dietetic internship at UCSF Medical Center. She is credentialed through the American Dietetic Association and is an ACSM Health Fitness Specialist.

For more information, visit

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