a close up of a grill with skewers of different types of food on it

This Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of summer. It also marks the official start of outdoor BBQs, longer days and the foods and drinks that come with them. Burgers, beers, and desserts abound — so how do you enjoy Memorial Day Weekend without completely falling off the wagon? Do you have to avoid BBQs and all social interaction? Hide on your couch with a salad and your water? Of course not! Read on for some tips that will help you navigate your next cookout so you can leave feeling like you did your body good.

Bring a Dish

We consider bringing your own dish a type of insurance policy. If you don’t know the menu at the BBQ you’re going to, bringing a healthy dish ensures that you’ll have something to eat while you’re there. It’s also a bonus because you’ll be helping your host out by making less work for him/her. You can pick something that’s healthy, but still a crowd pleaser. Try a quinoa and bean summer salad, Caprese salad with low-fat mozzarella or a brown rice pasta salad.

Snack on Veggies

At most cookouts, it’s a pretty safe bet that there’s going to be some cut up veggies and dip. If you feel the need to snack before eating your meal, choose the veggies and fill up on those. Veggies are loaded with fiber so you’ll actually feel more satisfied after a handful of carrots than you would after a handful of potato chips. And that will make you less likely to overeat later. But skip the dip, if you can.

Skip the Bun

If bringing your own dish is out of the question, opt for a hamburger without the bun. Skip the mayonnaise and ketchup (which generally contains high-fructose corn syrup) and top it with lettuce, tomato, onion, and some mustard. Bonus points if you make it a salad. Most cookouts have one lonely salad sitting somewhere in the corner. Fill your plate with veggies from the salad, top it with your burger, and use mustard and/or salsa as a dressing. It’s surprisingly delicious AND filling.

Be Choosy with Booze

You might be looking forward to unwinding this Memorial Day weekend with a few cocktails – and that’s not totally out of the question; but overdoing can cause calories to add up quickly. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, so after a couple drinks, those chips that you’ve been avoiding suddenly don’t seem so harmful. Some alcohol choices are better than others, so stick to those. Opt for a wine spritzer instead of beer or some vodka with club soda and a squeeze of lime instead of a margarita. Sip your drink slowly and make sure to drink a glass of water in between each cocktail.

Bring Your Own Meat

Okay, this one might be a little more out there, but it’s worth mentioning. If you’re going to a Memorial Day weekend cookout where you know the host well and you know the grill will be fired up, bring a couple of chicken breasts or put together chicken chicken kabobs with lots of extra veggies. When the grill-master throws burgers and dogs on the grill, ask him/her to also cook the chicken for you. It won’t take much extra work and you’ll be satisfied knowing that you have a lean source of protein to keep you full.

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