Eating at Barbecues and Everywhere: Everything in Moderation

I was recently asked about the vague topic of summertime eating. My answer is the same as for every other season: everything in moderation.

Now, let's look at how this works in real life.

Let's say we're going to a barbecue.

Barbecues typically serve so-called "junk" foods, such as burgers, hot dogs, potato chips, potato salad, pasta salad, ice cream, popsicles, sweet tea, and lemonade.

Many health coaches would tell you just to avoid all of that.

But, I think you can eat anything in moderation, even if you have a medical condition....

Eating For Everyone
Before I went to school for nutrition, I probably thought it would have been okay to load my plate up with fruit salad. Fruit is healthy, right?

Regardless of who you are and what conditions you have, that's not the answer.

When you get your plate at the barbecue, mentally divide it into four.

Now, as you fill your plate, pick four foods. One should be a high-protein food like a hot dog or black bean burger. Another can be a starch, like corn or potato chips. It would be good if one can be vegetables, but that's not always an option at a barbecue. Next, add one serving of fruit. Lastly, go ahead and have one serving of ice cream--it counts as dairy!

If possible, look for a low-sugar-added beverage. Options may include plain water, fruit infused water, or unsweetened tea.

Barbecues with Diabetes
The above advice applies even if you have diabetes. A lot of people think they need to avoid all carbs, from hamburger buns to dairy to fruit.  

But, really, blood sugar control is about eating carbohydrates in moderation throughout the day. It's also about making sure we eat protein at the same time as those carbohydrates. You can meet those needs by following the steps above.

Barbecues with High Blood Pressure or Congestive Heart Failure
Your doctor or dietitian may have told you to limit your salt intake. This means you can eat sodium but eat it in moderation.

Packaged foods tend to be high in sodium. So, when you go to a barbecue, try to choose unpackaged foods. For example, choose a homemade burger patty over a processed sausage link.

Or, if you're in charge of buying foods, look for lower sodium versions. Bush's Beans sells a reduced-sodium version of their Vegetarian Baked Beans, for example.

If you can't find a lower sodium option, it's okay to eat a salty food for this one meal. Just remember to return to your low-salt ways when you get home. That's moderation.

Barbecues with Other Medical Conditions
There are so many medical conditions that I cannot address them all here. But, "everything in moderation" still applies. Know what foods you should limit related to your condition(s) and eat them in moderation.

Remember to bring any medications you may need, such as digestive enzymes or allergy medication. 

As you can see, "everything in moderation" is an easy eating style, that can be used at barbecues and beyond.

Where do you find eating challenges? 

All photos from except the divided plate diagram, which I drew.


The information provided in this blog is not intended to replace individualized medical advice provided by your own doctor, dietitian, or other healthcare professional.
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