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Summertime is almost here. With the warmer weather and longer days, it’s a great time for outdoor celebrations and barbecues with friends and family. Traditional barbecue fare like fried chicken, ribs, mayonnaise-based salads, and other high-calorie options can make it hard to stick to your healthy way of eating. However, with a few tweaks and tips, you can enjoy the summer season while keeping your health in mind.

6 Tips for Summer Celebrations and Barbecues


  1. Hydrate, don’t dehydrate
    Staying hydrated in the summer is especially important since we lose a good deal of our body’s fluids through sweat. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is the best hydration choice instead of sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages, both of which contain empty calories. If you want a flavor boost, try adding lemon, cucumber, or orange slices to your water, drink unsweetened iced tea, or opt for an unsweetened, flavored seltzer.
  2. Grill up some veggies and fruit
    The grill isn’t just for meat; vegetables and fruits taste great cooked on the grill. Try eggplant, zucchini, or asparagus drizzled with olive oil or skewer some cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions for a delicious vegetable dish. Grilling pineapple and peaches brings out their natural sweetness and makes them soft and juicy. For good health, fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables of the season.
  3. Choose better-for-you alternatives
    Lean cuts of beef like loin or round cuts, chicken breast, ground turkey, and fish are good choices since they are lower in saturated fat and calories. Choose salads made with oil and vinegar-based dressings or substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise in your mayo-based salad recipes. When you want some crunch, try raw veggies with salsa, guacamole, or hummus in place of chips. Use a whole grain bun for your burger to boost your fiber intake.
  4. Watch portions
    Try to be mindful of what you are eating and focus more on the outdoor setting and people over the food. Using smaller plates may help with portion control. Stepping away from the food table once you have your food may help control mindless nibbling. Eat slowly and tune in to your body’s hunger and satiety cues.
  5. Rethink dessert
    In-season fruit is nature’s candy. Ripe watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries can satisfy a craving for something sweet. Try roasting pineapple, peaches for something different. Top a bowl of berries with some granola, dip berries in melted dark chocolate, fill dates with nut butter, or simply make a fruit salad topped with unsweetened coconut flakes to jazz it up.
  6. Get moving
    Stay as active as you can in the summer months. Walk early in the morning before the day heats up or go for a walk in the cooler evening after dinner. Find joyful movement that will get your heart rate up and bring a smile to your face. And don’t forget sunscreen and hydration!

Use these tips and plan ahead so you can savor the summer food and fun while keeping your health in mind. Try this recipe to take to your next outdoor gathering or barbecue.

Cucumber Salad

Adapted from

Serves 6


  • 2 English cucumbers, very thinly sliced
  • ½ large red onion, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • Chopped fresh chives, optional, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, onion, vinegar, honey, and salt.
  2. Chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl, leaving any excess water behind.
  4. Sprinkle with the dill and chives, if desired. Season with several grinds of pepper and serve.