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With Memorial Day kick-starting the summer season this weekend, backyard barbecues, graduation parties and other outside social events are roaring into high gear. Burgers, hot dogs, pasta and potato salads, chips, ice cream, beer—there’s always more than plenty to eat.

As much as we love a great backyard cookout, indulging on all these foods can have a, um, negative, effect on our waistlines. NY Daily News provided five helpful steps on how to eat healthily at a cookout this summer. Follow these steps, and you won’t be dragging a gut to the beach with you on your summer vacation.

1. Get Full Before You Go
It’s okay to ruin your appetite before heading to the cookout. A snack provides fullness so you don’t show up starved and end up eating everything you see when you first arrive. According to NY Daily News, fasting all day in prep of a big barbecue is the worst thing you can do. Not only will you slow down your metabolism but you’ll also overeat.

2. Study the Situation When You Get There
Don’t head for the first food platter you see. Scope out the scene and use what is available to create a proportioned meal as possible. “Sometimes, your attitude going to the meal can make or break your barbecue experience,” NY Daily News wrote.

3. Skip the First Drink
When you enter the party, try to have water instead of that preliminary cocktail. NY Daily News wrote that when you have that first drink before you even say hello to your guests, you’ll end up consuming a ton of calories from the alcohol and the effects of that alcohol can inhibit your willpower—making you consume even more calories from the high-calorie foods.

4. Only Fill Your Plate Once
Take one—just one—serving of protein, like barbecue chicken or fish, and fill the remainder of your plate with healthy foods like grilled vegetables, salad and roasted corn. Eat slowly and enjoy that first plate. Then stop yourself from overeating. “Enjoy the people—not food—around you,” NY Daily News said.

5. Host a Healthy Cookout
Don’t have the willpower to avoid the foods at others’ barbecues? Host one yourself, and the menu is completely up to you. Skip all things heavy, fried and saucy, and serve things light and satisfying like chicken skewers. Not only will these dishes taste light and refreshing, they also won’t leave your guests feeling overstuffed.

Throwing a healthy cookout? Your local Sparkle Market has all of your fresh and healthy ingredients! Stop by today and save! Happy Memorial Day!

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