In Good Eats on
June 28, 2017

Surviving the Family BBQ When You’re On A Diet

Surviving the Family BBQ When You’re On A Diet

If your family is like my family, then you probably get a lot “aren’t you eating” remarks during family gatherings. My family loves food, all of our get together’s involve my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese and some form of chicken, it doesn’t matter if we are stopping by just to drop off mail or over for Easter dinner, there will be food present. And it will be a lot. Surviving the family bbq when you’re on a diet is no easy feat with my family. The temptation is there in all forms: macaroni, potato salad, ribs, fried chicken and red velvet cake. I mean, they know I just lost 80lbs, but that really doesn’t matter.

EAT!! HAVE SOME CAKE!!! Here I am, trying to behave, but I have this spread of awesomeness placed before me and I have absolutely no clue what to do.

Without fail, I always say no, but then someone brings out that macaroni and cheese that was hidden in the back. You know the one my mom brought but someone was trying to be funny and put out the nasty stuff first.

As that glorious, cheesy concoction makes its way past me the only thing I stare, hopelessly into its abyss, knowing I’m going to have to pull in overtime at the gym because it’s about to go down.

Yes you will catch me hopping out of my seat and running to that picnic table to get my mother’s macaroni and cheese. Now if she had of just left it at home like we asked her to, I wouldn’t be at this table making a damn fool of myself right now pigging out.

Now all of the attention is on me and many people feel justified in their snide remarks of “told you she doesn’t eat” or “thank God you’re finally putting some meat on those bones.” I don’t care, you obviously have not had my families mac and cheese recipe. Our macaroni is handcrafted with only the finest of ingredients…..yea it’s that serious. Surviving the family bbq when you’re on a diet was a failure last year. This year I’m determined to succeed. You will not catch me slipping!

How do we eat’healthy’ at the family bbq? It’s not that easy and really depends on the person who’s cookout you will be attending. If they allow you to bring your own meat because you’re a vegetarian, you’ve already solved your biggest hurdle. While you can’t replace every single food there with a healthy item, you can control some of the smaller aspects.

Use fresh fruits and Vegetables

If you’re attending a potluck or some event where it’s customary for everyone to bring a dish try fresh fruits and vegetables. I know people will scream it’s expensive. But it’s really not. Depending on the number of people you are cooking for ( with our family we have 15)  you should spend roughly $15-$20 on fresh green beans, squash and collards greens. You can also go half with another individual attending the same event and you both can cook enough for everyone.

Canned fruits and vegetables contain a lot of salt. If you are strapped for cash you can also use frozen vegetables. Stores such as Aldi and Save-A-Lot offer a great a variety of fresh produce at a reasonable price. Cooking fresh vegetables will eliminate the salt and they taste much better than canned.

Turkey Burger or Vegan Burger

If it’s a potluck you might as well bring your own burgers for the grill. If you will be around family, bringing your own meat for yourself should not be seen as rude, but if you plan on visiting others you can not be so familiar with you may want to ask first. You may be cooking for yourself but at least you get what you want.

Pasta/Salad/Pasta Salad

I love pasta and I love salad. Pasta salad in almost any form is my absolute favorite. When all else fails and you can’t bring your own burgers for the grill and you’re stumped for ideas, bring pasta salad. If you can never go wrong with a salad, then you could never go wrong with pasta salad. It’s safe and people will always ask ‘what’s in it’ but either you like it or you don’t. There’s usually no in between. And you can always bet this dish will be empty by the time you leave, makes clean up easier when you get home.

Do you have special eating restrictions that will keep you from enjoying the holiday? Or are you the outcast vegetarian that’s constantly made fun of at family gatherings, if so how do you handle it?


Surviving the family bbq when you’re on a diet really isn’t that bad. I like being over dramatic because… family.

Mother of two, photographer, and fitness enthusiast hoping to inspire others to live healthy.

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Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian. This is merely an opinion blog. Read full disclaimer here -