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Some stuff you should know before you go BBQ mad this summer...

Go easy on the red meat, will ye?

WE’RE PROBABLY NOT going to gain any friends here and we’re not even sure we should be saying this, but here goes:

You’re going to eat well over your recommended daily allowance (RDA) at the barbecue this summer.

Shock horror.

shutterstock_254111455 Source: Shutterstock/stockcreations

One burger, two sausages, a chicken skewer, some mixed salad, a little tuna salad, three jacket potatoes washed down with six beers and an average-sized man is already almost over what he needs for the day.* And we haven’t even touched the jalapeño pepper relish or red sauce yet. Let alone beer number seven…

But with the help of Dublin-based dietitian Richelle Flanagan (nutritionwise.ie) there are ways (if you want them) to prevent weight gain and well, behave yourself at the cookout.

“Don’t over eat on the meat,” Flanagan explains.

“Keep it to a max of 150 grams and also, keep carbs to a small baked potato or bun, but not both.

“Load up on the salad with a drizzle of dressing to add moisture and some extra flavour. But don’t create a pool of dressing!”

A ‘sensible’ feed would be something like a small burger (75g) and a small chicken skewer (75g) plus a 220g baked potato with salad and dressing. That, she outlines, weighs in at a healthier 600 calories.

“Or if you up the vegetable side; one small chicken skewer and one vegetable kebab plus a 220g baked potato with salad and dressing is 100 calories less.

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shutterstock_245993155 Don't ya just know these happy beachgoers LOVE a bit of extra veg. Source: Shutterstock/Wavebreak Premium

“When it comes to barbecued food, or any food, for that matter, Flanagan says, ”there’s no ‘worst’ when it comes to food, rather a scale of healthy to less healthy”.

“However, the least healthy would be overeating on too much burnt meats as barbecuing can create chemicals called Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) aolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

“Unlike meat, vegetables don’t create carcinogens when they char as the formation of HCAs depends on the presence of creatine, which is mostly found in muscle tissue. The lack of fat also means there are no flare-ups that can create smoke.

“The World Cancer Research Fund advises ‘To reduce your bowel cancer risk, we advise eating no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week of red meat, like beef, pork and lamb, and eating processed meats like ham, bacon and salami as little as possible.’

Instead, try and increase your intake of non-meat protein sources in your barbecues e.g. fish, cheeses such as halloumi and vegetarian burgers.

“Toppings and sauces are often seen as the devil but there are some very, er, good (boring) alternatives.

“Avocados are very good as they provide healthy monounsaturated fats – make a healthy guacamole with tomatoes, lime and coriander.

“Swap shop-bought mayonnaise-laden salads such as coleslaw and potato salad for a healthier homemade option, substituting plain yogurt for some of the mayo.

“Go for a small baked potato with salad and a lighter French dressing made with healthy olive/rapeseed oil.”

Here’s a breakdown of what calories are in some of the most common food items eaten at the barbecue…

cal count

*Typical male adults need 2500kcals daily while women need 500 less.

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About the author:

Brian Canty

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