Message from the RDs: 4 Tips for Surviving Barbeque Season by Alicia Huggler

With barbecue season in full swing it is easy to put your healthy eating habits on the back burner. However, having a plan can ensure that you don’t go completely overboard. By following these four bbq survival tips you can continue your healthy eating routine, stick to your goals, and prevent your waistline from expanding!

Don’t go hungry!

It is easy to skip meals in hopes for saving room for the food you are about to eat at a bbq. However, this will backfire on you! It will cause you to overeat, and your body will want to store the food as fat. Be sure to not skip meals, and if you are going more than 4 hours without eating have a snack with fiber and/or fat to tide you over for a couple of hours until you are eating at the bbq.

Healthy Snack Ideas:

  • 1 cup non-starchy vegetables (baby carrots, cucumbers, peppers etc.) + (¼ cup guacamole OR 2 tbsp hummus)
  • 1 piece of fruit + (1 tbsp peanut or almond butter OR low-fat string cheese OR plain greek yogurt OR ½ cup reduced fat cottage cheese)

Bring a healthy side dish/main entree to the BBQ

Just because you are attending a bbq doesn’t mean you can’t bring healthier food options to ensure you have healthy foods to choose from if hunger strikes. Bring a veggie tray, hummus, fruit, low-fat string cheese, multigrain pita chips, grilled chicken, 100% whole wheat buns etc. to the party so you at least can control some of what you are about to eat.

Sip smart

Barbecues often have a wide array of caloric drinks such as soda/pop, beer, juices, and hard alcohol. It is best if you want to enjoy some bbq favorites that you keep your drink calories low. Decide what you want to indulge on. Is it the potato salad, cake, or cocktails? If it is cocktails try to drink light beer (~100 calories) or try a shot of vodka/tequila/rum mixed with either iced water (or club soda) + lemon/limes OR a splash of 100% juice OR mix it with flavored seltzer (ex. La Croix) which amount to about 100-150 calories per drink.

FYI: Club soda has 0 calories and 0 grams of sugar. Tonic water has 110 calories & 27 grams of sugar (6-7 sugar cubes) per 10 oz.

You can have it all just not all at once

Barbecues are full of chips, cookies, cheeseburgers, brats, and hotdogs. Be mindful of your portions when you are at a barbecue. As best as you can make ½ of your plate fruits/veggies, ¼ plate lean protein, and the other ¼ plate should be a whole grain. While you can indulge in some of your bbq favorites it is best to choose 1-2 less healthy food items instead of making your plate full of high fat, high salt, or high sugar foods. Practice moderation and enjoy your favorites without the guilt by being mindful of your overall food/beverage choices throughout the day.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken and Vegetables in Foil  (Adapted from


  • 8 aluminum foil sheets large enough to wrap around one chicken breast
  • 4 (4-ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 tbsp barbecue sauce per chicken breast (Try Annie’s natural organic bbq sauce! It is only 4 grams of sugar per 2 tbsp.)
  • 1 zucchini , sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 red, green or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • For each foil pack, prepare two sheets of aluminum foil; place the sheets one on top of the other for durability.
  • Place one chicken breast on each stacked pair of foil sheets; season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Brush each chicken breast with 1 to 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.
  • Divide equally and arrange vegetables around each chicken breast; season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle chicken and vegetables with little olive oil.
  • Fold the sides of the foil over the chicken, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
  • Transfer foil packets to the preheated grill rack and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until done, turning once.
  • Chicken is done when thermometer reads 165 degrees F
  • Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes. Then enjoy!