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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

How to Survive Summer Cookouts

Updated: May 14

Friends enjoying an outdoor meal

Fire up the grill! It's time to enjoy spending quality time with family and friends. Dietitian Lindsey shares how to survive and enjoy cookouts this season without derailing healthy lifestyle efforts.

Cookout Survival Plan
  1. Eat before you go

  2. Fill your plate with quality food

  3. Move away from the food table

  4. Splurge in moderation

  5. Ditch the salty snacks

  6. Hydrate

  7. Bring it

Eat Before You Go

Avoid skipping meals before a cookout. It's best to keep a normal meal schedule to keep your appetite in check. Consider having a nutritious snack before leaving home too. Showing up to a cookout ravenous sets the stage for overeating.

Fill Your Plate with Quality

Scope out the food spread before filling your plate. Look for lean protein, vegetables, and fruit to start with. High-quality nutritious foods provide the most satiety. Then if you are still hungry you can always go back for more.

Move Away from the Food Table

After eating move yourself away from the food to prevent mindless grazing.

Splurge in Moderation

Approach this with a strategic plan. Take a look at your social calendar. How many events do you have this month? Prioritize the foods, desserts, or beverages you want most and which events you will have them at. Be selective and set your limits before you go.

Ditch the Salty Snacks

Salt leads to fluid retention and feeling bloated. Chips, pretzels, and crackers aren't all that exciting anyway. Why not save room for something better?


Sip on water throughout the day to ensure adequate hydration. Being hydrated supports body temperature regulation, it improves our mood and cognition, allows nutrients from our food to be delivered to our cells, keeps our joints lubricated, and helps achieve feelings of satiety so we don't feel hungry. Water is a calorie-free beverage. Other beverages like sweet tea, lemonade, pop, and alcohol contain added sugars and they are filled with empty calories.

Bring It

Offer to bring a side dish and take a healthy recipe. You don't always know what food options may or may not be available. Taking a dish is a way to ensure a healthy option is available.

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