Healthy Grilling Tips for Summer Cookouts

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Healthy grilling to improve your energyDuring those summer days when barbecue season is in full swing, it can be tempting to forget about healthy eating and opt for less nutritious BBQ dishes. Don?t let this temptation get the best of you! By developing a nutritious food plan that includes healthy grilling instead of all hotdogs and fatty burgers, you won?t miss out on any of the fun and can fuel your body with healthy options. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial to supporting the overall health of your body, as well as to combating Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

AFS and NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response

AFS is a condition affecting many people, many of whom are completely unaware that they have it. General feelings of fatigue, tiredness, insomnia, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and many other symptoms may be indicators of AFS. The part of the human body that is responsible for controlling stress through the release of specific hormones is the adrenal glands, and when these glands aren?t functioning properly, it disrupts the functioning of the entire body.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response is responsible for stress reduction through six components. The components working to combat stress come in two groups. The hormonal, cardionomic, and neuroaffect response are all neuroendocrine components, while the inflammation, detoxification, and metabolism response are all metabolic components.

When a person?s body is continually flooded with excessive amounts of stress, these circuits begin to break down and malfunction. Even if just a single one of these circuits breaks down, it disrupts the body?s ability to function and process stress.

Keeping Summer Healthy

A nutritious diet is crucial to supporting the metabolic components of the NEM Stress Response. Maintaining a diet low in sugar helps decrease the amount of inflammation in the body while stabilizing and improving metabolism. It is important for blood sugar levels to be maintained throughout the day, and this can be achieved by eating foods with a low-glycemic index and limiting starchy carbohydrates. In addition, eating foods high in fiber and drinking plenty of water also helps to detoxify the body.

Infused water and Healthy grillingDrinks loaded with sugar such as soft drinks are best avoided. Instead, you could try ice water with infused fruits slices or mint and cucumber. Smoothies are also a nutritious and refreshing summer drink.

Maintaining a diet rich in nutrients from whole foods such as brown rice, quinoa, and leafy greens, and low in simple carbohydrates, also helps adrenal fatigue recovery and improves overall body functioning. Quinoa salad is a great snack or appetizer for those summer gatherings.

It is important to note that a food plan that improves AFS for one person may not necessarily be successful for another. If you’re concerned about making sure a food plan works for you, or if you have advanced AFS, consult a professional or consider dietary coaching. A dietary coach can ensure that you are achieving the correct amounts of calories, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. In addition, it may take your body time to adjust to a diet higher in fiber or very different from the foods you normally eat.

Preparing for a Barbeque

A mistake many people make when attending a BBQ is showing up starving. One of the easiest and smartest ways to avoid gorging once you show up is to plan ahead. Consider bringing a tray of veggies and a bowl of chopped fruit, to provide yourself and everybody else with a healthy side option. In addition, plan to eat at home before you leave.

When your stomach is full of nutritious food, fatty and high-calorie foods at the barbecue will be far less tempting, and it will be easier to have the tasty but unhealthy options in moderation.

Sometimes it just isn?t possible to eat a meal while trying to get out of the house before a cookout, but there are options. You can try grabbing a healthy snack or filling your plate with veggies. For reference, a cup of veggies is about the size of your fist.

Healthy Grilling Options

Healthy grilling can be fun and tasteyWhen it comes to choosing what to grill, focus on lean proteins, such as chicken or fish, and nutrient-dense veggies, such as spinach or asparagus. For burger patties, opt for a leaner blend of 90/10. Make sure to keep meat separate and cook at a high enough temperature for food safety. A gas grill may produce fewer carcinogens and toxins than a charcoal grill.

When considering how much to eat, the size of your hand is a smart portion of meat such as chicken or fish. A serving of condiments is about the size of your thumb. Having an idea of how much you should be eating in relation to your hand will ensure you are portioning appropriately and filling up on nutrient-dense foods, while still enjoying small sides of favorites such as potato salad and macaroni and cheese.

Stay Hydrated to Reduce Snacking

Be sure to drink plenty of water. The body often mistakes dehydration for hunger, which increases the likelihood of unnecessary snacking. It also helps to keep you full, which also lets you eat in moderation.

Summer parties often have a lot of alcohol on hand, but alcohol is filled with high amounts of empty calories. Limit drinking to no more than once per week, keeping it as a special occasion thing instead of a regular thing.

Have a Healthy Dessert

When the s?mores come out and the plate of chocolate chip cookies, try eating a healthy grilled pineapple or fruit salad instead. High in fiber, it will help to keep you fuller longer.

Hopefully, these healthy grilling tips and nutritious choices will help you to make this the healthiest summer yet. Enjoy the parties and enjoy eating!

 
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Healthy grilling options such as chicken, salmon, and asparagus helps to maintain a high metabolism and increased energy. Foods that are high in protein or fiber help to keep you feeling fuller longer and aid in AFS recovery.


Healthy grilling