How to stay sugar free during BBQ and potluck season


Summer is in full swing and last week I was just damn happy I didn't keel over from heatstroke. I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts of summer is the abundance of BBQ hangs with friends. There's no better way to spend a sunny summer afternoon than with a hot grill, chilled beverages, and best buds.

But group gatherings can be a big source of stress for anyone trying to stick to a dietary shift, especially the 21-Day Sugar Detox.

Today I want to give you with a couple tips on how I fully enjoy summer BBQ season without guilt, shame, or symptom flare-ups.

Plan ahead

If I know I'll be headed to a BBQ over the weekend, I'll plan ahead and try to find out what's going to be served. I know that my will-power is only so strong and I'm the type of person that needs to be prepared if I'm going to be face-to-face with any foods I'm choosing to pass on.

Is it totally BYO-everything? Will the hosts be providing most of the food? Will there be a lot of kids there? (Kids have generally been a good indication to me that there might be more sugary treats at the party.)

If I'm going to a potluck, I'll try to put together a couple sugar free dishes to share. My go-to favorites tend to come from our CSA box since we've always got an abundance of veggies in the fridge. This year I've been a big fan of these recipes from our Driftless Organics share:

If whipping up something quick is your idea of torture, I'd suggest stopping by your nearest grocery store and picking up a veggie tray, some fresh guacamole, and a couple ears of corn to grill. Those are all perfect BBQ foods that every grocery store will carry.

Also, it's always a good idea avoid showing up to the event on an empty stomach if you don't know what they'll be serving. Eating a healthy snack at home will keep you from making a beeline for the buffet the moment you walk in the door.

Fill up first on veggies, protein, and fat

I love vegetables. I'm not sure if I always did or if it's something I grew into over the years, but the more I've started to grow my own vegetables and eat locally grown organic vegetables I've realized how flavorful and naturally sweet vegetables really are. So I tend to start my snacking with all the veggies.

I like to load up my plate up with cut up veggies and salads (watching out for salads smothered in dressings with sugar or soybean oil) and dollop them with a heaping spoonful of guacamole. The fiber from the veggies fills me up, while the healthy fat from the avocados keeps my blood sugar stable. Then I'll top it off with a piece of grilled protein. Since I'm strictly gluten-free due to an auto-immune condition, I just eat the protein san-bun. I know there's a lot of gluten-free bread varieties out there, but honestly none of them are all that great and I'd rather leave room for more snacks or fruit than fill up on fake-bread.

If I'm itching for something sweet after I devour all that food, I'll usually grab a slice of watermelon. Actually, let's be honest, most often I dive right into the watermelon ASAP. I don't handle super hot temperatures well and watermelon is one of the only things that cools me down, hydrates me, and keeps me headache free on hot summer days.

Skip the booze

While I love an icy cocktail on a hot summer day, I know myself well enough to know that I'm way more likely to fall off the wagon (and land face first in bowl of ice cream) if I have a couple drinks. Alcohol totally lowers my inhibitions and makes it a whole lot easier convince myself that “one scoop of ice cream won’t be that bad..." Because you know what? Sometimes ice cream really doesn't bother my symptoms that much. But, if I am trying to manage some pesky auto-immune symptoms, then I've made it a point to say that I'm not going to be eating any ice cream that day. So why mess it up with a gin and tonic?

So, what’s on the menu then? How do I sit back and sip something delicious without any booze?

Sparkling Mint Lemonade.

Mix 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with 12-16 ounces of citrus flavored LaCroix (or sparkling water of your choice).

Take a sprig of fresh mint and roll it between your hands to damage the cell wall, releasing the essential oils, and add it to the sparkling lemonade. (Don’t chop the mint up. It’s too rough for the plant and you’ll just end up getting bits of green stuck between your teeth. Gross.)

Serve, sip, and enjoy.

Making real decisions

You might be thinking right now, “Really?! You can’t even have a single, solitary scoop of ice cream?!” And you know what? One scoop of ice cream really isn't always that triggering for me. And it might not be for you either.

But if you’re still reading this post right now, then you’ve already been toying with the idea that some of the foods you eat might be the source of some of your symptoms. And you find that your anxiety skyrockets after a chocolate and OITNB binge, or if you feel like your head is in a fog after finishing that box of doughnuts your partner brought home from work, or if any of your annoying symptoms tend to rear their ugly heads after you've jumped on the sugar train… Well, then sometimes that single, solitary scoop of ice cream is all it takes.

So then a decision has to be made.

Is that ice cream the creme de la creme of ice creams? Is it the best scoop of artisan ice cream? Made with local cream made from grass fed cows? Is it the ice cream that makes you drool just thinking about? The ice cream to end all ice creams?

Or is it scooped from a box that your friend bought at the closest gas station?

Yea, I thought so.

Maybe that ice cream just isn’t worth the trouble after all.

**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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