Eat This, Not That at Summer BBQs

By Carolyn Suerth Hudson, RDN, LD
June 18, 2019

Now that its summer and BBQ’s are on the calendar for all of us, this is often a tough time for my clients to avoid sugar. Here’s what I tell them, which may also be helpful to you as you head out to your next get together – keep on the lookout for hidden sugars that so often lurk in typical BBQ fare.

I’m not talking about just the ice cream sundaes (though we’ll get to that), I mean all the sugars that aren’t overly sweet, but are just as dangerous to our health. All carbohydrates turn into sugar once in the body, so be on the lookout for those buns, chips, beans and the list goes on and on.

I tell every single client, (from those with weight loss goals to those with chronic illnesses) that too many carbs or sugar can lead to inflammation (pain), weight gain, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, moodiness, fatigue and more cravings. The American Heart Association suggests no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar every day when in reality, the average American consumes 14 to 24 added teaspoons of sugar every day according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a lot of room for improvement!

With that in mind, scan through this list to help you recognize where sugar is lurking, along with healthier alternatives for your next BBQ.

  • Eat this: Homemade baked beans
  • Not that: Store-bought baked beans

baked-beans_small.jpgA common staple on most any BBQ table is baked beans. Most know that beans are high in carbs, but most everyone is surprised by the fact that one cup of typical store-bought baked beans has about 13 teaspoons of sugar. A better choice would be to make our Baked Bean recipe, and with a recommended serving size of 1/3 cup, it’s just about 5 teaspoons of sugar.

  • Eat this: Mediterranean potato salad
  • Not that: Store-bought potato salad

Our Mediterranean potato salad is made with olive oil, potatoes, green beans, sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes. This recipe has only 3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar and crowds love it. Most store-bought options have 7 teaspoons of sugar and are full of oils that we caution clients against. Oils that we recommend are minimally processed; they are generally in a dark bottle and have words like; extra virgin, expeller pressed, cold pressed and unrefined. Healthy fats like these play an important role in our overall health and wellbeing. Processed oils are heated, filtered and treated with chemicals; these oils do not support a healthy body.

  • Eat this: Bibb lettuce
  • Not that: Hamburger or brat buns

On top of all the sugars listed above, an average hamburger bun just adds more sugar and carbs, about 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar that no one needs. Bibb lettuce is a great alternative for hamburger or brat buns

  • Eat this: Cantaloupe, honey dew, strawberries and peaches or wrapped dark chocolate
  • Not that: Watermelon or brownies

strawberry-cantaloupe.jpgBrownies, ice cream and watermelon are just a handful of the items typically found on a BBQ dessert table. Even if you grab just one watermelon wedge, that adds 5 teaspoons of sugar onto an already high sugar meal. Plus, who just stops at one watermelon wedge. As an alternative, enjoy some of summer’s most delicious fruits or a small piece of wrapped dark chocolate – anything above 70% cocoa is a fine choice.

About the author

Carolyn understands the impact nutrition has on health and well-being both professionally and personally. Working in a remote town in northern Canada, she saw the impact poor nutrition had on the health of people there. She then became committed to learning more and decided to pursue a degree in nutrition. Carolyn is a registered and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her BASc in Nutrition from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and completed her internship at Toronto General Hospital. Carolyn is a past president of the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and past director on the board of the Dietitians of Canada.

View all posts by Carolyn Suerth Hudson, RDN, LD

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