Life Home & Garden

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Beat the barbecue bloat: Dietitian Orla Walsh's 10 tips on how to stay healthy

It's easy to go mad with the burgers when the weather's good and the grill smells great. Our resident dietitian shows you how to stay healthy in this al-fresco dining season

Barbecue season can play havoc with your waistline
Barbecue season can play havoc with your waistline

Orla Walsh

Barbecue season is in full swing! Cooking your dinner on the barbecue can lead to less preparation at mealtimes, less cleaning up afterwards and more fun, interactive and social eating. These are obviously all welcome events.

However, barbecue season can play havoc with waistlines. A meal with salad, sausages, chicken wings, corn on the cob, a bread roll and beer can easily add up to over 1,000 calories - or more than half of your day's energy allowance for food.

This can result in surprising weight gain, especially if done on a regular basis over the next couple of months. Simple changes can help curb the increased calorie intake and therefore, help control your weight over the summer months.

Here are my top 10 tips to help you to stay healthier this barbecue season:

1 Beware of portion distortion. When it comes to barbecue season, portions of meat may increase. A healthy portion of meat differs depending on gender and body size. Use your hand as a guide - your portion of meat should be the size of the palm of your hand.

2 Choose lean cuts of meat more often. Lean meats are usually white in colour. For example, a grilled turkey breast (100g) will provide 155 calories and 1.5g of fat while a similar sized grilled lamb steak (105g) will provide 240 calories and 14g of fat.

3 It's also worth noting that the cut of meat can make a big difference. For example, two little chicken wings (195 calories in 70g) provide more calories than one breast of chicken (145 calories in 100g). Similarly, a cooked beef burger can provide 330 calories (100g) while a similar sized sirloin steak provides 260 calories (110g).

4 Effortlessly reduce the calorie density of your meal by bumping up the veg. This can be achieved with a tasty summer salad. To make a delicious salad include soft leaves such as spinach, crunchy leaves and iceberg, at least two other colours such as tomatoes and yellow pepper, and a fresh herb such as mint.

5 If you want an extra boost, or to make your salad even nicer, why not consider barbecuing some veggies and adding them in. Corn on the cob is simply delicious on a barbecue, as well as vegetables like aubergine, peppers and courgette. If you haven't already tried barbecuing onion, it's a must. When cooked it turns deliciously sweet and is a serious winner in a summer salad.

6 Watch out for the condiments, as they can bump up the calories quite fast. For example, a small portion of coleslaw provides 115 calories, which is nearly the same number of calories found in a chicken breast. Tasty lower calorie sides include gherkins, olives, mint sauce, relish, pickle and mustard.

7 When some people think barbecue, they also think beer. When it comes to your health, less is more. This is true for your waistline too. However, it is worth noticing the calorie differences within brands.

Thankfully most brands provide their nutritional information on their websites.

A change in brand may make little difference in terms of taste, but a big difference in terms of calorie intake. As a general rule, ale is often lower calorie than a stout or lager.

8 Choose wholegrain carbohydrates as they contain more belly-filling fibre. The easiest rule of thumb is to eat carbohydrates in their most natural state. Did it grow out of the ground looking similar to how it ends up on your plate? For example, potato, sweet potato, quinoa and brown rice.

9 Bread is often on offer at a BBQ. A high-fibre bread has at least 6g of fibre per 100g, which can be checked by looking at the nutritional information provided on the wrapper. If it is an individually sold bread, choose one that is brown in colour and if available, one that has seeds within it.

10 Watch your fluid intake. Make sure to stay hydrated as barbecue season is when we're experiencing hotter weather, and when fluid requirements rise. As a basic rule, aim for about 35 ml of fluid for every kg that you weigh.

For most men this is about 2.5 litres of fluids a day, while most women need 2 litres of fluids. Make sure to go into your meal well hydrated so that you don't confuse thirst with hunger. To encourage consumption why not flavour water with pieces of fruit such as grapefruit, with pieces of veg like cucumbers or perhaps some herbs such as mint leaves.

Health & Living

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life