What Do I Eat at This Damn Barbecue

Oh good, it’s summer in New York City, which means everything smells like hot soda and all of your friends invite you to barbecues in hundred degree heat on a strip of cement outside their apartment because oh my god we are going to take advantage of this sunshine to prove we don’t live in a concrete mass of soullessness isn’t this so fun.

It’s inevitable that you will, at minimum, attend (or HOST, for god’s sake) at least one barbecue this summer season. Barbecues are a hotbed of greasy, mayonnaisey, chip-n-dip-n-beer fitnessing nightmares. This can be very frightening for those of us with high fitness priorities and low self control.


Well, she is very funny, but I feel like maybe you should live your life and go see your friends and eat food outside with them (#YOLO amirite). And you don’t have to be that weird kid that brought a bag of celery sticks and club soda and carries them around with you all night. You can go, and enjoy your time, and even eat and drink some cool stuff while you’re there.


All kinds of things! Let’s do this by separating some good choices from bad choices.

Good Choices

  • Grilled vegetables: duh. Whatever vegetables are there, just load up.
  • Grilled lean proteins: chicken breast, shrimp (what a fancy barbecue!), or lean ground beef or turkey burgers. Even a really lean cut of steak is a better option than most BBQ meats. Know a pretty good way to guarantee these will be at the barbecue? Bring ’em. Mmmm hmmmm. Just bring ’em yourself. Now you’re a gracious guest and a well prepped fitnesser.
  • High fiber bun: if there is any, any at all, sort of whole grain option for a bun, get at it. If not, go for whatever the smallest option is, or try that half bun thing, but that shit gets messy. Don’t forget food can also be eaten with no bun at all. Which leaves more room for booze.
  • “Fixins”: or whatever the hell these are. Once you have your lean protein, load up on tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles, and whatever the hell else grows out of the ground and can be put with it. Maybe you went for the half bun, so a bunch of lettuce serves as your top half? Maybe? I don’t know your life.
  • Salad: the vegetable kind, not the mayo-based kind. Usually someone brings a salad that no one eats, so there will be plenty for you to get in on.
  • White wine: always the sensible booze choice (remember the How To Alcohol post? A handy reference for these purposes)
  • Water: don’t forget. Especially since it is so damn hot out, you really gotta hydrate. And if you don’t drink water, you’ll be so thirsty that you drink a bottle and a half of wine, and in this heat, no one is lookin’ pretty after drinking that.
  • Fruit: Surely SOMEONE brought watermelon to this damn thing if they know what a real barbecue is. If you’re snacking on non-meal things (like snacks) fruit is probably gonna be your best bet. But all that shit is in season now so it’ll taste awesome. Get in there.
  • Cucumbers: Bring these. Bring these bring these bring these. They’re crispy, they’re cool, they’re good to snack on if you’re bored and hungry and need to snack on something. They’re also pretty cheap. Cut it up and bring a bunch. If chips and guac are there, you can use the cucumber to dip in the guac for some of the time, so you limit your tortilla intake but still get maximum guacamole benefits.

Bad Choices

  • Hot dogs and pork or beef sausages: the first one isn’t even a real food, and sausages are some fatty business. Plus nitrates maybe cause cancer? That shit is way too processed. If you absolutely must, go for Applegate Farms chicken or turkey sausages. It’s lean protein, and there are only a few ingredients, all of which are recognizable as real food.
  • Ribs: this again is some fatty meat, and smothered in BBQ sauce means extra sugar and corn syrup and sodium. If you totally love these things, have one. Not a whole rack.
  • Pasta salad: all of the bad things. Mayo, simple carbs, and shame. And it doesn’t even really taste awesome. There isn’t even cheese in it. Don’t waste your time.
  • Potato salad: also all bad things. If someone was awesome enough to make the kind loaded with veggies like peppers and pickles, and used greek yogurt instead of mayo, go for it. Also, maybe make that and bring it so everyone knows how awesome you are at things. Use equal parts potato + other veggies to ease the starchy attack.
  • Potato Chips: the most addictive things on the planet, so just don’t start. Don’t start.
  • Beer: ugh I know I know. Here’s what I’ll say about beer. If you’re going to have it, maybe don’t have it ALL night. Alternate with white wine so at least some of your booze is low cal. And, maybe you definitely forgo the bun and potato salad and anything starchy if you go the beer route as a compromise. You don’t gotta go crazy, but you do gotta find a balance. You work hard on your fitness, don’t blow it on 7 beers.
  • Sugary cocktails: again, reallllly not worth the calories, especially in this heat. Sugary things give you a headache / hangover faster, and can really jack up your calorie count.

Oh look, the list of good choices is longer than the list of bad choices. You can totally do this.

ONE CAVEAT: please note that even the healthy options are still not the awesomest meal plan for fitnessing. So, take that into account when planning your meals for the week. Maybe you have more salads in the week leading up to it, or cut down more on your carbs or alcohol or something. Try and look at the week- or month-long picture, and adjust so you can splurge a little.

And don’t forget the basic Party Strategy tips. They work equally as well outdoors.


Yes. About that. I was sick, and moving, and painting, and assembling furniture, and you know, sometimes life happens. Anyway, we are now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  1. Rhiannon said:

    OMG. why did i never think to substitute cucumbers for chips with the guac???? thank you!

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