July Fourth is the No. 1 grilling holiday in America. Thursday, 87% of Americans will fire up the outdoor grill or smoker in celebration of our country’s independence.
Grilling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your friends and family over this holiday weekend. Meats, veggies and fruit are all great options to throw on that fiery-hot grill. The most popular grilled food is hamburgers, with hot dogs, chicken and steak all coming in at a close second. The problem is that sometimes we can get off track in these social environments and end up paying for it later.
Here are several things to keep in mind for a healthier barbecue:
First, the origin of your meat has a huge effect on your health. Conventionally raised meats should not be your first choice. That 99-cent chicken is loaded with harmful chemicals and growth hormones that wreak havoc on your body weight, your own hormones and how you feel. Opting for a grass-fed, pasture-raised meat option is the best. These meats have more anti-inflammatory fats (Omega 3s) and less inflammatory fats (Omega 6s). Quality meats cost more, but your health will thank you. Second, what you pair your meat with is critical. If you eat white-flour buns alongside conventional meat that is highly inflammatory, this is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your blood sugar. This combination causes an insulin surge and insatiable cravings for sweets that are tough to ignore. A low-quality, fatty hamburger or hot dog along with a bun and a side of chips is not a healthy option. Instead, opt for a quality, grass-fed hamburger in a whole grain, whole wheat bun, or on top of a bed of greens.Third, don’t load up on carbohydrates at the barbeque. Eating the bun is part of the barbeque experience for many; however, if you opt for the bun with your hamburger or hotdog, eat it alongside slices vegetable sticks and be able to skip the chips.Finally, enjoy yourself while still being mindful of your alcohol consumption. A few drinks can come with negative effects such as increased carbohydrate cravings and lowered “food inhibitions.” And it’s not just the extra calories in these drinks that are the problem, but alcohol also affects your body’s ability to burn fat. Too many drinks may even contribute to the “what the heck” effect when you step so far off track from your normal healthy-eating routine that decide that you’ll just go crazy today and pick up the pieces later.Continuing to focus on clean, whole food for this year’s barbecue will allow you to stick to your healthier eating plan. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to holiday celebrations. Focusing on grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, organic vegetables and fruit when possible provides your body healthy nutrients to fuel your energy.
Have a great holiday weekend, and a special thanks to all the brave men and women who served or are currently serving our wonderful country!
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.