Don’t let the Fourth spark bad eating habits

By Sarah Castellanos, dietetic intern

fireworksWith the Fourth of July just around the corner, BBQ season is in full swing! If you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight a BBQ can be detrimental to your success.

Fatty cuts of meat on the grill, side dishes loaded with mayonnaise, and a table full of cakes and cookies are all examples of why a BBQ can cause a tip on the scale. Don’t worry, here are a few health-conscious tips you can keep in mind to have fun at your next outdoor get together:

  1. Don’t arrive starving. Being hungry is one thing, but if you are ravenously hungry when you get there, your will power to make healthy choices is likely to go out the window when tempted. You are also more likely to overeat in general, even on the best of options. If you’re already getting hungry and hour before you’ll arrive at the BBQ, try a small snack, such as a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit to hold you over.
  2. Use smaller plates. People like to see a full plate of food sitting in front of them. Therefore the bigger your plate the more likely you are to fill it up and eat more. Opt for a dessert plate or a plate from the kids’ table and you are likely to eat less!
  3. Don’t graze. If food is laid out on a table for people to be able to eat whenever they want, do not get tricked into grazing. You are likely to eat more than you think you are! Get a plate and fill it up once. When you are done, you are done! Don’t go back for seconds.
  4. Bring something you know is healthy. If you are asked to bring something or want to bring something as a nice gesture, bring an item you made yourself that you know is tasty as well as a healthy option. You don’t have to tell others it’s good for you too!
  5. Drink Wisely. Alcohol can have its place in a healthy diet, but if you are not careful, it is easy to go overboard. What we often don’t realize is that a 6+oz glass of wine or a bottle of beer can have as many calories as a cookie – yet we don’t think of them as dessert. If you choose to have a drink, avoid the sugary drinks like margaritas and daiquiris. Opt for beer or wine and remember to pace yourself.
  6. Keep dessert small. Don’t make yourself feel bad if you want some dessert. Just be smart about your decisions. If there’s something you really want, go for it, but keep it to a single serving size. Don’t try to avoid that brownie by getting a plate full of something else if it’s not going to satisfy you.

Try making this mock potato salad that uses cauliflower instead of potatoes and plain, fat-free Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Don’t tell anyone what’s in it and see what happens!

Faux Potato Salad, Serves 8

Nutritional Info: 75.3 calories, 2.8 g Total Fat, 7.1 g Carbohydrate, 7.1 g Protein, 314 mg Sodium
Recipe adapted from

  • 5 cups cauliflower, cooked
  • 1 cup plain, fat-free Greek Yogurt
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard seed
  • ¼ cup dill pickles, chopped or diced
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup cucumber (with peel), sliced
  • 1 cup hard boiled egg, chopped
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • TT salt and pepper

Cook one head of cauliflower until it is the softness of a boiled potato. Chop and cool in the refrigerator until chilled.

Combine yogurt, yellow mustard, mustard seed, dill pickles, celery, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and garlic powder.

Toss cauliflower with dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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