Editor’s note: A version of this post first appeared on our blog on July 3, 2012. However, with summer quickly approaching, we thought it’d be an appropriate topic to revisit. 

Healthy BBQ SidesFor many of us, summer weekends and holidays mean backyard barbecues and lots of time spent eating. It can be easy to forget all that food can pack a pretty high caloric punch when you’re enjoying the sunshine and spending time with friends and family. Whether you’re a host or a guest this barbecue season, here are a few ways to make sure all your hard work in the gym isn’t lost at the picnic table.

Watermelon, one of the season’s most refreshing treats, provides sweetness and nutritional value. This low-calorie snack only has 46 calories per 1 cup serving – there’s about 108 calories in an average-sized chocolate chip cookie. Additionally, snacking on watermelon helps keep you hydrated because it’s made up of about 90% water.

Most barbecue spreads are laden with dishes like potato or macaroni salad made with heavy, full-fat dairy products or mayonnaise. Not only are these types of salads more susceptible to spoiling in the sun, they are high in calories and fat. Adding grilled vegetables as a side is a simple and delicious alternative. Try marinating or seasoning them the same way you do meat. Some veggies that grill well are corn on the cob, zucchini or whole mushrooms like portabellos. 

If you’re in the need of some recipe ideas, impress your friends by whipping up one of these options from Eating Well. 

Staying hydrated in hot weather is important, but what you hydrate with is equally as important. Watch out for sugary drinks like sodas or lemonades – a single 12oz can of pop has about 39 grams of sugar, putting both men and women over The American Heart Association’s recommendations for daily sugar intake (36 g for men, 24 g for women). To see how your favorite drinks stack up (literally!) in terms of sugar, check this out

It’s still possible to enjoy barbecue season and all the food it brings; it’s just advisable to make conscious choices. No one wants to waste the all the work they put in at the gym by eating back all the calories they burn, especially during bathing suit season.

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