Grilling out has a lot of benefits. You’re cooking for yourself (always a good call), you don’t need much oil (fewer calories without sacrificing on taste), and the experience of cooking and eating outside with your family and friends can be a boost for your mental health. That said, there are typically better and worse options at every cookout, and as with any social gathering, it can be hard to keep tabs on how much you’re eating over the course of the event. Click here to read more on Portion Control and Social Eating.

That doesn’t mean you have to over-indulge on unhealthy options or throw portion control out the window! Here are some tips for your next healthy cookout:

Which Meat Matters

When you compare different types of meats, you’ll see different calorie counts, different fat contents, etc. You’ll also see different concentrations of HCAs when you put your meat on the grill. HCAs are cancer-causing substances that form when you grill higher fat meats. In this case, calorie count and cancer-causing substances align, so if you have options, we recommend opting for chicken, salmon, and veggies. Learn more about avoiding HCAs when you grill here.

Grill Out, Veg Out 

You can really transform fruits and vegetables by putting them on the grill. Onions, lettuce, tomato, bell peppers, corn, watermelon, and pineapple are a few of our favs. We recommend bringing your fruit and veg of choice to the party because – a) they’re delicious and b) they’ll give you a lower calorie option to fill up on instead of loading up your plate with a mayonnaise-based potato salad or meat and buns.

Speaking of Buns

Does your meat need a bun? Could you bring a whole grain option or go bun-less and enjoy a whole grain rice or pasta salad on the side? Whole grain foods, in addition to being better for your body than refined carbs (white rice, white bread, etc), are more satisfying. You may notice that white bread, delicious as it is, always leaves you wanting more.

Eat with Intention

Sometimes we eat more because we’re bored or lonely or need a distraction. Read more on emotional eating, here. Instead, make it your mission to learn as much as you can about what’s going on with the people around you! Another thing you can do to avoid mindless eating is to serve yourself small portions, and take the time to drink a glass of water before each serving. You can find more tips to eat with intention in your everyday life here.

Pick Your Battles

If you know what your weakness is going to be, you can make a plan and stick to it. Is that bun nonnegotiable? Okay, maybe you have that, but no dessert. Know you’re going to want something sweet? Maybe watermelon should be your jam. Your Health Advisor can help you nail down a plan and stick to it. It’s all about what works for you!

To check out our latest video on 5 Healthy Grilling Recipes, click here!

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