Start with a lean protein like skinless chicken breast, 90 percent lean ground beef, sirloin or tenderloin, pork chops, lamb loin chops, or fish.
Bottled marinades are packed with preservatives and sodium. While sodium may not directly cause weight gain, excessive salt intake causes fluid retention, leaving you feeling bloated. Make your own marinade to save on sodium and preservatives and still add flavor and moisture to your lean protein choice.
Grilling intensifies the flavor of vegetables just like it does meat; try building kabobs by alternating lean meat and vegetables. Grilled vegetarian burgers or vegetable side dishes can be good choices too.
Instead of filling your plate with creamy potato and pasta salads, choose green salads with oil-based dressings. You’ll cut calories and get a boost of healthy vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats.
If you just can’t imagine a cookout without potato or macaroni salad, try swapping half of the mayonnaise for low-fat Greek yogurt and replace the other half with low-fat mayonnaise. You’ll cut the calories and fat significantly and get a healthy dose of calcium and protein from the Greek yogurt.
Substitute whole grains, like whole grain pasta, quinoa, or bulgur for refined grains in salads. The fiber will help fill you up while consuming less total calories.
Dip crisp, fresh veggies in dips instead of chips. Just be sure to choose dips wisely and opt for protein-packed hummus or dips made with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Baby carrots, cucumber, radishes, bell pepper, snap peas, and broccoli or cauliflower florets all make excellent dippers.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh, juicy, naturally sweet summer fruit (like watermelon or berries) instead of traditional fat and calorie-laden desserts.
Fruit punch, sweet tea, and lemonade can have 150 calories or more per serving. Choose water with lemon or lime, sparkling water, or unsweetened tea for a calorie-free sip.
Overindulging can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Take a small portion of your favorite dishes, eat slowly, and evaluate if you’re really still hungry. Remember you can always go back for seconds.