Chances are you’ll be attending a barbecue of some sort this week—here’s what to eat so you don’t ruin your summer diet just yet.

Colorful Chicken Kebabs

Happy July 4th week! We’re just as excited as anyone to celebrate the U.S.A. this weekend–with only one thing holding us back. The calorie-laden BBQ fare is making us just a little nervous this early in the summer. We’ve got weeks of bikini-wearing to go! To get the scoop on which BBQ staples are okay to indulge in and which are the worst offenders, we chatted with nutrition and lifestyle author Elizabeth Somer, as seen on The Today Show and Dr. Oz. She gave some important insight on which foods to skip, and what you can try instead to replace them with! Somer says:

Skip the high-fat entrees, like hot dogs and sausages. Instead, Try obtaining your protein from omega-3-rich salmon, chicken breast, shrimp, or portabello mushrooms.

As far as sides go, Somer says to skip the chips. Instead, get your crunch from greens! Try a tossed salad made with dark greens (kale, spinach, etc.), rich in the eye-protective compounds, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Skip salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce. Liven up your meal with something a bit healthier! Try Puree fruit instead and add to a marinade. Adding a bit of a sweet ingredients (like watermelon or dark cherry juice) to grilling sauce adds flavor and helps balance other bold spices in the marinade.

Skip hamburgers, which have a higher fat content. Instead try ground chicken or turkey burgers using breast meat. Add diced onions and celery for flavor, then top with a slice of watermelon or pack the burger with dark greens, like spinach or romaine. You’ll still get that flavor you’re craving!

As we all know, alcohol is a sneaky culprit and the downfall of many a diet. We talked to Registered Dietitian and Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, Rene Ficek, who gave us some tips on which beverages you should reach for this BBQ season:

1. Light beer is best. On average, a light beer will contain 80-120 calories, which isn’t too bad. Some beers, like wheat based beers or IPA’s, can contain upwards of 400 calories, which can really break the calorie bank!

2. Drink dry wine- not sweet. Sweet wine typically has an additional 100-150 calories per glass.

3. Use club soda as a mixer. Club soda pairs well with vodka or gin. Plus, you will be helping to rehydrate yourself to prevent a hangover. Lemons and limes can help flavor this mixer without adding calories, plus it will add a nutritional boost of vitamin C!

4. Say no to adding juice, sports drinks, energy drinks or soda to any alcoholic beverage. They simply add calories and do not offer any nutritional benefit.

What’s your best tip for staying healthy at a BBQ? Share it in the comments below!

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