Summer BBQs: How to Enjoy the Festivities AND Stay on Track

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

Summer is the time to enjoy outdoor activities, perfect sunsets, and of course, BBQs! As someone who has had weight loss surgery, you may feel anxious about enjoying these events without compromising on your health goals. You might feel pressured to make unhealthy choices or give in to FOMO (fear of missing out). But don't worry. You can have fun at BBQs and still stay ahead of the game. In this blog post, you will learn how to avoid peer pressure, cope with cravings, and choose healthy dishes to ensure you enjoy your BBQ while staying healthy and happy.

1) Prepare for peer pressure. Before heading to the BBQ, be prepared for peer pressure. Just know — it’s going to happen. People will tempt you with the ol’ “just a little won’t hurt you” or “you barely ate anything, you should eat more”... You’ll need to be ready for how you’ll handle your responses and actions, especially if you’ve dealt with food addiction since the peer pressure can be triggering. You may also encounter people who eat and drink without a second thought. Don’t get judgy. Just know that’s not you anymore; you do things with intention now. Bring your own beverages or foods that suit you and your goals. Don't be afraid to stick to your goals and advocate for yourself. You own the control — no one else.

2) Fight cravings. Common barbecue foods like burgers, hot dogs, and ribs are tempting. And so are all the sides that come along with them. You may crave these foods and feel guilty about indulging. One way to trick your brain during a BBQ is to remind yourself of the reasons for your weight loss surgery. You've done this for your health, and giving in to cravings won't help you achieve your goals. You can also distract yourself by engaging in conversation, playing games, or going on a walk.

If you still need to satisfy your cravings, choose healthier options like chicken kebabs, grilled vegetables, or a lettuce-wrapped burger. Another tip is to eat before you go so you're not too hungry because we all know extreme hunger can promote cravings and rarely leads to healthy decisions. When you're hungry, it's also easy to overindulge, and you tend to eat faster than usual — which after WLS is a big no-no... So have a small healthy meal before the event to stay on track. If you do happen to give in to something you regret, first, be easy on yourself. You’re human. Then, take BariMelts Gastro Zen™ to help ease any heartburn or stomach discomfort:

3) Bring your own healthy dish. One way to ensure you have a healthy option is to bring your own dish. Not only does this give you control over what you're eating, but it can also make you the party hero too! You can bring a low-carb dish such as a Greek salad with chicken, avocado dip with vegetable sticks, or a quinoa salad with grilled vegetables (see recipe):

4) Surround yourself with supportive people. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can make a huge difference in staying on track. If you know someone who also had weight loss surgery, invite them to the BBQ. They can provide support and hold you accountable. You can also make friends with those with a healthy lifestyle, and they can give you tips on what to eat and avoid. If you don't have anyone in your circle who aligns with your goals, try joining a support group or an online community.

5) Have fun without the pressure. Remember that BBQs and gatherings are not all about the food. Evaluate the big picture. It's a time to connect with friends/family and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere. You can choose to participate in activities that don't require food. Try doing activities you thought you’d never do — frisbee, soccer, volleyball, whatever it is you never felt comfortable doing in the past due to your health and mindset. Overall, have fun!

Attending a BBQ can be a little stressful, especially when trying to stay on track with your weight loss goals. However, it's essential to remember that you can enjoy BBQs while staying healthy and happy. Always be prepared for peer pressure, fight cravings with a plan, bring a healthy dish, surround yourself with supportive people, and have fun without the pressure. With the right mindset and tools, you can make lasting memories without compromising your health.

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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