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Barbecues can be a secret diet saboteur. What appears to be a potentially healthy meal can quickly turn sour once you add in those calorie-laden extras if you go about it wrong.

Meat, salad and veggies, what’s unhealthy about that?

Well, not a lot really, but they’re not the issue for most folks at a barbecue – it’s all those add-ons that turn a barbecue from pretty much the perfect weight loss meal into a veritable feast of goodies that can wreck weeks of progress and leave you feeling bloated and sluggish for days on end.

First thing’s first, let’s identify those sneaky BBQ foods that are the main culprits in turning your calorie intake at a barbecue from a nice healthy number to something that rivals the combined IQ of the members of Mensa.

Summer Barbecues – The Worst Offenders


Despite what you may have heard from the Paleolithic dieters, or the anti-wheat crowd, bread isn’t all bad. It might make you feel a little bloated, in which case you should probably avoid it, but bread itself isn’t the sole cause of the obesity epidemic. It’s relatively low in calories, contains protein and fiber if you go for wholewheat or wholegrain, and isn’t all bad.

The trouble is the amount you eat at a barbecue.

You get there and there’s bread on offer, so you take a few slices. Sitting at the table you help yourself to a couple more. Along comes the meat, and it’s a bun to accompany your burger, a roll for your hotdog and maybe some more bread to snack on while waiting for dessert.

All of a sudden, you’ve consumed three days worth of carbs just from bread!

Pasta and Potato Salads

Salads = good.

Pasta and potatoes = not so much.

Like bread, we can’t demonize these individual foods, but adding a starchy carb like pasta or potatoes to a salad really cranks up the calorie content.


Dressings are a big issue, as there’s so much variation in what you can choose, and something seemingly healthy can turn out to be a really bad choice.

Anything particularly sweet, such as ketchup, honey mustard, sticky meat glazes, sweet chilli sauce and dipping sauces are generally no-go condiments. They are rammed full of sugar and let’s face it, you never have just a small serving of sauce.

And if there’s some left over, along comes another piece of bread to mop it up.

You also want to avoid meat cooked in any sugary sauces.


It probably goes without saying, but most desserts are pretty bad choices when losing weight.

Weight loss does come down to calories in versus calories out at a basic level, so there is an argument for including small portions of dessert in your daily diet, which you can’t argue with. But it again comes down to portion sizes and what you’ve eaten the rest of the meal.

If you’ve been fairly restrained in your food choices and can stop at just one serving of dessert or piece of cake and fit them in to your daily calorie, carb and fat allowance, more power to you. Unfortunately though, most folks just don’t have the willpower to do this, so you’re best off giving the high-sugar, high-fat desserts a miss.

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