Warm weather means cookouts, and we are so ready. What we’re not ready for: That slump that comes from over-indulging at mealtime.
Luckily, with a few strategic choices, you can eat the foods you love at your next cookout and still feel awesome afterwards.
- Choose low-sugar condiments. When we think of cutting back on sugar, we usually focus on dessert. But sugar lurks in a lot of less-obvious places—and one of them is condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Many brands are loaded with sugar—even some of the organic brands have more sugar ounce per ounce than ice cream. Our fave brand: TrueMade Foods. They’re low in sugar (50% less than typical supermarket brands), but you don’t have to sacrifice taste, because they’re made with wholesome, naturally sweet and super-flavorful ingredients like butternut squash and carrots along with tomatoes, vinegar and spices. Going to a cookout as a guest? Bring a few bottles of TrueMade in a basket as a fun hostess gift.
- Crowd out less-optimal foods. Load up your plate with vinaigrette-based slaw, salad, and grilled vegetables first, add a moderately-sized portion of protein and make sure you have some healthy fat, like a spoonful of guac or some olive oil. Then, when there’s just a bit of space left on your plate, choose your starch. Pick your favorite—if it just isn’t a cookout without potato chips, then lettuce-wrap your burger instead of having a bun. If macaroni salad is your jam, enjoy a spoonful of it and skip the corn on the cob.
- Sip smart. Lemonade and sweet iced tea are super-refreshing on a hot day, but they’re often far sweeter than they need to be. Fill your glass 2/3 full with water and then add some of your favorite sweet drink. You still get the flavor but with far less sugar. (Better yet, squeeze a few lemon wedges or drop some cucumber slices into your water and skip the lemonade altogether.) Drinking adult beverages? Sip slowly and have 2 glasses of water before reaching for a second drink. Not only will you cut down on excess calories, you’ll also stay hydrated, giving you more energy and lowering the chances of a hangover.
- Go for one and done. After all those vegetables and healthy fat on your plate, you’ll feel plenty satisfied, so no need to go back to the food table for seconds. Instead, focus on an activity—organize a touch football game or a sunset walk around the neighborhood, clean up some discarded plates and cups, find someone new to chat with, or spend some time playing DJ. After a few minutes, you’ll see that you’re really not hungry anymore and avoid overeating.