Diet Survival Tips for 4th of July Cookouts

Outdoor barbecues are a tradition on Independence Day. Grills will fire up in backyards around the country. Everything from hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, ribs, smoked sausages, chicken, vegetables and even shrimp and fish are cooked on outdoor grills. Side dishes may include potato salad, cole slaw, pickles and  macaroni salad. Of course, what 4th of July celebration would be complete without apple pie and ice cream? It can be difficult to stay on a diet and avoid fatty foods at a backyard cookout when so many people around you are enjoying the savory open-grilled flavor, and the smell gets your mouth to watering. You can enjoy a delicious backyard barbecue without  regretting it the next day. You can enjoy all the flavor of a 4th of July grilled fare without all the calories and fat.
Photo Credit: Silar CC-BY-SA-3.0
Host your own backyard barbecue celebration where you select the cuts and types of meat and side dishes. Skip the processed meats like hot dogs and ground beef. These meats products are often loaded with preservatives, fats and sodium. Turkey hot dogs and ground lean steak are much better choices. Grill kabobs including white meat chicken or shrimp, mixed vegetables, like peppers, pearl onions and cherry tomatoes. Sea bass, cod and tilapia work well on a grill if you use a little foil and a light vegetable or olive oil. Spritz talapia with fresh lime for a delicious meal. Try some cajun blackening spices and blacken your fish on the grill. 
There are loads of calories, fats and sodium in side dishes and condiments. Condiments including barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup and ranch salad dressing contain lots of calories and sodium. Offer low-sodium or salt-free alternatives. Use more spices when cooking food on the grill so that condiments are not really necessary. Potato and pasta salads that include mayonnaise may contain as many as 400 calories per serving. Offer a tossed pasta salad using whole grain pasta and a light vinaigrette dressing. Include some diced tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers mixed in with the pasta for extra flavor and a boost of healthy vitamins and minerals. 

Beer and soda often flow freely at backyard barbecues. Offer your guests a variety of flavored sparkling water, lite beer and low-sugar sodas in addition to regular soda and beer. Drink sensibly and in moderation. Drink an 8 ounce glass of water between each alcoholic drink to help you avoid over-indulging and dehydration. 

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