Many of us will be celebrating long weekends this summer with family, friends and BBQs, which usually means excessive amounts of food and beverages will be consumed.

Here are some tips for staying healthy during the long stretch of summer holiday weekends to come!

During BBQ season, we tend to want refreshing, cold drinks. Unfortunately, the more common drink choices tend to be great tasting, but high in calories! Personally, I prefer to consume my calories through  meals, not drinks. Let’s look at some of the common beverage choices as well as some healthy alternatives!

Cutting out the pop!

Pop is one of the most commonly consumed beverages, especially during BBQ season. It’s fast, easy and really sweet making it a commonly reached for drink! But, that’s where the benefits of this drink stop. A single can of pop contains anywhere between 140 to165 calories on average and approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar – that’s more than the recommended daily intake of sugar!  Pop is a major culprit in the rise of our current obesity rates, especially since we average 22 teaspoon a day. That is equivalent to 2 cans of pop a day, which many North Americans are consuming regularly!

Fruit juices and teas are not always better options!

Another culprit would be fruit juices. We often think we are making healthier choices by reaching for the orange juice or cranberry cocktail, but many of these have just as many calories (and sugar!) as a can of pop.  Apple and orange juice contain a minimum of 115 calories in 1 glass and cranberry juice can contain up to 154 calories in 1 glass and may contain anywhere from 6 to 12 teaspoons of sugar!

Iced tea is another common BBQ beverage choice. Delicious and refreshing, it is not, however, calorie- or sugar-friendly and may contain up to 14 teaspoons of sugar!

The final calorie killer would be alcoholic beverages.  People reach for a cold beer or glass of wine, which contain high amounts of sugar and are equally high in calories. Both of these beverages, depending on the choice, can average 150 calories per drink – and most people are drinking more than just one with their burgers or hot dogs.

All of these beverage choices can pile unnecessary calories into your daily consumption.

What’s left? 

So, what are the alternative to our favourite BBQ Beverages?

Natural Fruit Juice: For fruit juices, always look for 100% natural, unsweetened, not from concentrate juices. Although the caloric content may still be high, you won’t be consuming all that additional sugar. But, still be aware of those calories since fruit contains natural sugar.

Pop: When it comes to pop, many people reach for diet pop as an option, due to the “zero calories” content. However, although the caloric content is much lower, they are rich in harmful artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose. These alternatives are often appealing, but have been linked with INCREASED food consumption, obesity, digestive concerns, skin disorders and even migraines. So, although appealing due to their low-cal, sugar-free content, the possible side effects are not worth the risk. Unfortunately, when it comes to pop, I say avoid it all together.  If you enjoy carbonated beverages, then try sparkling water instead.

Homemade Iced Tea: Instead of buying pre-made, calorie- and sugar-rich iced teas, this refreshing drink is SIMPLE to make at home. It also means you can control the caloric AND sugar content of your drink. You can even choose to use small amounts of natural sugar alternatives, such as honey or agave. Or better yet, you can choose a calorie-free option, such as stevia (but, remember to avoid those artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose).

Alcoholic beverages:  The best way to avoid the calories in alcoholic beverages is to avoid them altogether!  But, if that’s not going to be your first option, then below is a list of lower calorie alcoholic beverage:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc & White Zinfandel: 1 glass = 80 cal
  2. Chablis: 1 glass = 80 cal
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon: 1 glass = 95 cal
  4. Budweiser Select 55: 55 cal per serving
  5. Miller Genuine Draft Light: 64 cal per serving

WATER: This zero-calorie, hydrating beverage is the absolute best choice and should always be consumed, regardless of other beverage choices, especially if you’ll be spending your day outside. And, if you want to make your drink a little tastier, you can always add lemon slices, cucumber, or even fresh fruit and berries, to give the water a sweet, low-calorie flavour.

So, enjoy your long weekends this summer and don’t forget to make smarter beverage choices!