July 4th has come and gone to the day kicks off the summer barbeque fun. Barbeques are a great time to come together with family, enjoy friendship, relax by a lake, pool, or just in the backyard. But for those who are on a specific diet barbeques can be a minefield of dangerous food traps and temptations.
Over the last year, we have drastically changed our eating habits in our household and over the weekend attending a family BBQ came with some stressful moments figuring out how to explain to the hosts we just “don’t eat” almost all the food they had available and was brought by family members. As the kids sucked down sugary beverages and the majority of adults sipped on cool fizzy sodas I found myself in a minefield of tasty sugar laden snacks, side dishes, and beverages.
It can be hard when you are with family you love and care about and continue to hear, “just have a little it won’t kill you” or “one day won’t matter”. For over a year my partner has been dealing with Candida issues and we have finally nailed down a diet which is working for both of us, he is one a ketogenic diet and myself on a modified version of the same diet as I still eat some of the more carb-filled nuts and consume berries and an occasional stone fruit (hard to resist apricot season).
But this makes eating at a family BBQ a rather difficult endeavour when the tables are filled with cakes, pastries, popcorns, chips, salsa, funeral potatoes (cheesy potatoes), white bread buns, and frozen hamburger patties and processed hot dogs. To avoid the pitfalls of the family BBQ I compiled a few tips to help keep you on track and on whatever you nutrition plan is:
Offer to Bring a Dish
The simplest thing you can do is offer to your host to bring a dish. This way you know that at least one item offered with fit your diet restrictions. Most hosts will be more than happy to have an additional dish brought to the BBQ and you will rest assure that you know exactly what is in it.
For the 4th of July BBQ we went to we brought deviled eggs from antibiotic free cage free eggs made with soy-free veganaise and a healthy mustard.
Eat Before You Leave Home
Have a snack or small meal before heading off to that BBQ this will help stem off the munchies and help keep you away from the sugary goodness and starchy chips. With a full stomach before arriving, you will avoid becoming hangry along the way.
Bring Your Own Beverages
If you aren’t sure what drinks will be available at the BBQ or if you are like my partner and avoiding all alcohol then your best bet is to fill up your water bottle with your current favourite drink before heading to the BBQ.
If you are avoiding gluten but still want to imbibe, bring a six-pack of a case of hard cider or bottle of wine. Leave the extras with your host or share with the party. Again if you are into infused waters offer to bring a gallon or infused water or a lemonade sweetened with stevia. Most hosts will not resist having the extra beverages around.
Bring Your Own Meat (or Veggies)
Grilling can be tricky, especially with a crowd of people at a party. Many times the popular option is to buy the huge packs of hot dogs or those frozen burger patties. If you are like our family we can only eat antibiotic free and hormone free meats which decreases our chances of enjoying the best part of the BBQ – the grill. Even worse if you are the vegetarian going to a BBQ and there are only burgers!
Your best bet is to inform your host ahead of time that you want to bring your own meat (or veggies) to the party. Most hosts will not be offended if you are upfront about your dietary needs and will be accommodating. Want brownie points, bring an extra grass-fed super-charged burger or two for your hosts that can be shared.
Most hosts will be accommodating and in our case even offered to use a different spatula to flip the burgers. We aren’t that picky! But the sentiment was appreciated, also offer the grill master to get them an beer while they are at work since they are helping you out as well.
Make Smart Choices and Don’t Beat Yourself Up
When you pick up your plate and are faced with all the food choices on the buffet or picnic table make the smart choices first. For me it was eating the berries in the fruit salad and skipping the grapes.
Finally, if you do slip a little don’t beat yourself up. I found myself with a handful of corn chips, enjoyed them and then moved on. The same with dessert, our hosts made a special cheesecake that she only makes a couple times a year. My partner declined as he can’t have any sugar, myself I cut a sliver of a piece and enjoyed the small delight.
Having specific diet restrictions doesn’t have to kill your summer of fun. Instead, it just takes a little more preparation, communication, and planning to have a fun and enjoyable party with friends, family, and other loved ones this summer!
What are your healthy alternatives for a BBQ?
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