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8 Healthy BBQ Tips for People With Diabetes

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8 Healthy BBQ Tips for People With Diabetes

Two senior men preparing barbecue for healthy dinner

Barbecue season is back, so time to fire up the grill! Although barbecues are great summer fun, they can be challenging if you or a loved one has diabetes, since some barbecue favorites are high in sugar, sodium, and fat. However, by choosing the right foods and following a few simple tips, you can make your next outdoor barbecue both delicious and healthy.

Although barbecues are great summer fun, they can be challenging if you or a loved one has diabetes.

  1. Choose leaner proteins.
    Burgers, hot dogs, and ribs are staples at summer barbecues, but they’re not the healthiest options. Instead, try substituting them with chicken, tofu, salmon, shrimp, or other lean proteins. You can also try mixing them with grilled vegetables to round out your meal and boost your fiber consumption.
  2. Limit starchy or high-carb foods.
    Hamburger and hot dog buns, corn, potato salad, and pasta salad are high in carbohydrates and should be eaten in moderation or avoided entirely if you’re managing your blood sugar levels.
  3. Find healthier alternatives for sauces, seasonings, and marinades.
    Unfortunately for people with diabetes, typical barbecue sauces are very high in sugar. Look for sugar-free barbecue sauces and seasonings, or try some low-sugar condiments like mustard, hot sauce, mayonnaise, vinegar, or salsa. But always read the ingredients for these items carefully, because “sugar-free” isn’t always as healthy as you think.
  4. Limit sugar-free foods that contain sugar alcohol.
    Many foods claiming to be sugar-free can still contain sugar alcohol, appearing on ingredient labels with names that end in “-ol” (sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, etc.). These low-calorie sugar substitutes are usually artificially produced and, although healthier than sugar in small doses, can lead to stomach issues if eaten in large amounts.
  1. Bring your own food.
    If you’re not sure what food will be available at the barbecue or aren’t comfortable asking for substitutions, you can always prepare your own healthy dishes and bring them with you, so you know exactly what you’re eating.
  2. Watch out for grazing.
    With so much food to pick at during a barbecue, it can be difficult to keep track of how much you’ve eaten throughout the day. Plan ahead and figure out what you want to eat and how to space it out, so you don’t overindulge.
  3. Stay hydrated.
    Dehydration can happen on a hot summer day before you even realize it. And it can cause your blood sugar levels to soar. Make sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you’ve also been drinking alcoholic beverages.
  4. Stay active.
    Physical activity is a great way to keep your blood sugar under control, so try staying active with a game of catch or frisbee while you’re outdoors and enjoying the nice summer weather.

If you have more questions about diabetes-friendly barbecue foods or diabetes in general, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider today.