As National Barbecue Month comes to an end, the official start of barbecue season kicks off with this Memorial Day Weekend’s festivities. These summer months will have you eating outside for plenty of reasons including family picnics, birthday parties, and outdoor festivals. All this means the simplicity of counting calories gets a little harder. Because you’re generally not the one cooking or controlling the menu, you’ll need a little help keeping track at these events. Below is a rundown of what you may encounter at a BBQ.

A Day’s Worth of Fat
That traditional bratwurst is calling your name, but saying yes to it will pack on the fat grams to the tune of 25. If you go for two, you’re almost at a day’s worth of fat and almost 600 calories not even counting the bun. If a chicken or turkey bratwurst is available, choose that. Bring a pack to the party to add to the grill if you’re unsure if it’s an option. That will save you 20 grams of fat and a third of the calories per dog. Even a hot dog or hamburger has about half the fat of a pork bratwurst.

A Day’s Worth of Added Sugar
Cookouts are a prime location for sugary beverages. Aside from the 20 oz. bottle of soda, which packs about 240 calories, you may have that highly desirable cup of lemonade. Both pack about 70 grams of added sugar. That’s a day’s worth of added sugar for most people. Drinking watered down lemonade takes all the fun out of the experience, but who says you have to fill your cup to enjoy the taste. Bring a few packs of club soda instead and add fresh fruit to it. Pieces of strawberries or watermelon are a fun surprise for the sweet taste you crave in a cold beverage in the summer months. A splash of apple or cranberry juice can get your taste buds going as well. Dress it up in a nice cocktail glass for a visual treat.

Stay Full Foods
Now for the good part (nutritionally speaking).  Barbecues are the perfect place to have foods that will keep you satisfied. With high protein meats a central part of the menu, and side dishes that scream fiber, you can choose foods that will stick to your ribs as my Mom would say. A couple wedges of watermelon has a couple grams of fiber and a high water content that will help fill you up. An ear of corn has a couple more grams of fiber. A side of broccoli coleslaw nets you four more grams of fiber and you’re feeling pretty good on the hunger front. Add a half a chicken breast, with 26 grams of protein and you should make it through the barbecue without the need for a second or third plate.
Missing Gems
If your family is known for not grilling fruits and vegetables to go with all that meat, be the one that steps up. Pineapples, tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, artichokes and so many more can really add a nutritious flair. Some well placed seafood on the grill, like shrimp, salmon, halibut, or tilapia, can be another way  for you to save calories without sacrificing the fun and flavor of barbecue foods.
By: carolyn_r