The easygoing lifestyle of summer brings to mind sunny days, swimming and firing up the barbecue. Grilling is a healthy cooking technique and you don’t have to be enslaved to high-calorie sauces or fatty foods. Discover how to have a healthy and delicious summer BBQ with diabetes.

  • Grilled foods are good for you because the fat drips away and never lands on your plate. Often these foods do not require high-fat sauces. If you do want a dash of flavor, keep sugar-free bbq sauce on hand. Avoid fatty choices such as burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst. Opt for lean meats including fish, skinless chicken breasts and sirloin steaks. If you crave a burger, try a turkey, veggie or lean beef burger. Your portion should be the thickness and size of a deck of cards. Remember to add a bun for carbohydrates to complete the meal.
  • Soak your meats in a vinegar-based marinade to make them tender and flavorful. Recent research showed marinating meat in apple cider vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels. Other healthy marinades include lime juice, lemon juice and olive oil as well as garlic and herbs. Marinades also lower the negative effects of grilling which are added carcinogens. Try not to overcook or scorch the meat.
  • Toss plenty of healthy vegetables on the grill. Serve them as a side dish or put them on a kebob with pieces of meat or fish. Grill onions, mushrooms and tomatoes as well as zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper. Coat vegetables with a thin layer of olive oil or butter spray before putting them on the grill. Make a diabetes-friendly dessert by grilling fruits such as pineapples, apricots and peaches. Whip up a salad with dark green vegetables including spinach, kale and broccoli. Serve salads and raw vegetables with low-fat salad dressing or dip.
  • Be cautious about condiments and stay away from mayonnaise. Try using low fat mayo for dips, salads and sauces. Limit baked beans made with brown sugar and molasses. Choose foods with fiber and protein such as lentils, black beans and black-eyed peas as well as whole grain bread. Make a whole wheat pasta salad tossed with garlic, broccoli and olive oil.
  • Stay hydrated to avoid blood sugar level fluctuations and dry skin. Slather on sunscreen and drink water throughout the day. Stay away from sugary beverages such as fruit juices, soda, sweet tea, punch, sports drinks, and lemonade. Certain alcoholic beverages contain sugar and can make you more prone to dehydration. If you want a flavorful beverage, consider sparkling water or unsweetened ice tea. If you have alcohol, limit your intake to 1 serving for women or 2 servings for men under age 65. One serving is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of distilled spirits.
  • Fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and reduce carbohydrates such as corn or potatoes to a quarter of the plate. The remaining quarter is for lean meat or fish. Skip fatty foods such as potato chips and nachos. Feast on a vegetable platter with celery, broccoli and carrots. Bring your own veggie platter to barbecues to ensure you have something to nosh on.
  • Feast on your favorite summer fruits for dessert including strawberries and watermelon. Avoid desserts such as pies, cookies and cake. If you can’t resist, have a small taste after filling up on healthy foods so you won’t be tempted to overindulge. Share desserts.
  • Consider the time of the barbecue and don’t skip breakfast or lunch. Eat lightly before you head out, such as a yogurt, cheese stick or a piece of fruit. This helps ward off cravings when you get to the barbecue. Test your blood sugar throughout the day. Plan ahead and consult with your doctor if you have any questions.
  • Focus on having fun rather than feasting on food. Play volleyball, take a walk and increase your physical activity to help keep your blood sugar levels in check. It is a golden opportunity to have a good time and fit exercise into your day.

With a bit of preparation, you can enjoy summer barbecues without compromising your health. Bring your own foods, make healthy choices and fit exercise into your day. Check your blood sugar levels frequently and focus on fun rather than food.