Making Healthy Choices at Summer BBQs

Making Healthy Choices This Summer

Summertime brings festivals, barbecues, graduation parties, and more. Many patients navigating a diabetes diagnosis or trying to manage their weight may wonder how to enjoy the season while also making wise food choices. The good news is that you don’t have to cut out all your favorite summer foods to stay healthy.

People may think a diabetes diagnosis or a healthy diet means avoiding carbs and sugars at all costs, but Riverside registered dietitian Kathleen Kallend says it’s more about practicing moderation and making mindful food choices.

“Our bodies need energy, and carbohydrates are the primary source of that energy,” said Kallend, “However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Instead of the simple carbohydrates in sweets and sugary drinks, try incorporating more complex carbohydrates into a balanced diet. This includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which can provide healthier energy for your body.”

Making these changes can be difficult, but there are many ways to enjoy the summer season while maintaining healthy habits.

Balancing Your Plate

A simple way to help maintain a balanced diet and avoid overindulging is to mentally divide the surface of your plate and fill each section thoughtfully.

  • Fruits and vegetables: Try to fill half of your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables. These foods are lower in carbs and higher in fiber and can help keep you feeling full to avoid overeating.
  • Protein: Lean protein foods like poultry, fish, beans, and tofu should occupy approximately a quarter of your plate. These foods provide essential amino acids that are key to your health.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Much of the remainder of your plate should consist of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread. These foods provide the energy your body needs while avoiding simple sugars.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Consuming plenty of water or unsweetened beverages is essential in the summer heat, especially for those with diabetes, who are more prone to dehydration. Proper hydration also helps regulate your body’s temperature and digestion and can help you feel fuller longer.

Minimize Processed Foods

While you don’t necessarily have to eliminate processed foods entirely, keeping them to a minimum is a smart way to limit excess sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats. Eating minimally processed foods instead of packaged snacks and sweets can provide essential nutrients while avoiding unnecessary additives.

Listen to Your Body

Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Stay busy throughout the season with activities or exercise to avoid unhealthy habits like eating out of stress or boredom.

Everything in Moderation

While it is wise to choose healthier options and minimize processed foods, it is important to remember that you don’t have to pass up all of your favorite summer treats. Being mindful of the foods you choose, staying active, and practicing moderation can all keep you on track on your journey to wellness. Riverside’s Diabetes Wellness Center has resources to help prevent or manage diabetes, such as nutritional counseling and our Weigh to Healthy Living weight management program.

Learn more about the Weight to Healthy Living program here.