3 Healthy BBQ Food Swaps That Let You Indulge Without the Bulge

Memorial Day Weekend is in our rearview mirrors, but a season of high calorie, high fat, deliciously crafted sugar party foods is just getting started. Face it: you want to indulge. Those burgers on the grill smell too good. You don’t have to suffer through a season of food FOMO, though. Have your burger and ice cream and eat them too by making three healthy BBQ food swaps.

Hotdogs vs. Hamburgers: I usually prefer hamburgers because I know I can make them with about 96% lean meats and when grilled it prevents the meat from drying out too much. To dial up the health I sometimes dice portabella mushroom and mix it with the meat before grilling in order to add substance and some lean healthy protein. Last year’s evidence from the WHO indicated that hotdogs are potential group 1 carcinogens if they are processed and packaged, so unless the meat is made fresh and without extra additives I generally tend to stray from eating hot dogs.

Cake vs. Ice Cream: The great thing about making a cake is that you can control the amount of flour, sugar and butter in your holiday desserts and use healthier alternatives such as applesauce, fresh fruit and vegetables (for sugar), nut based or whole bran flours (instead of all-purpose white flour) and margarine or vegetable oil (instead of butter). Since ice cream is a better grab and go item most organic stores also sell healthy alternatives to your favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Pasta vs. Rice: I opt for cold pasta salads over heated rice dishes or warm cream-based potato salads because of the potential risk of B. Cereus gastroenteritis. Bacillus Cereus is an air breathing bacteria found in mayonnaise based dishes, reheated rice and even some pastas. For this reason I opt to eat cold pasta salads stirred in olive oil, vegetables or with whole grains and legumes to avoid reheating my food. I also make sure my meat dishes are fully cooked and not sitting in a warm temperature for too long in order to prevent the spores (or toxins) from rapidly multiplying.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is Chief Resident of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.