It’s Labor Day weekend—The official last holiday weekend of the summer season! For many, it’ll also be among the last of epic barbecue and grilling marathon days this year.

Believe it or not, I generally suggest giving yourself permission to indulge a little during these types of holidays. This type of flexibility represents a realistic approach towards a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.

But, I also recommend eating sensibly. This starts by simply being cognizant of what and how much you consume. So, as you celebrate Labor Day, here are three simple tips for making it a healthier one.

Related Article: A Simple Guide to Eating Sensibly

Tip #1

Take it easy on the barbecue sauce and enjoy the rich taste of your chosen proteins in their natural form. It just doesn’t make sense to season and grill pounds and pounds of meat, chicken and seafood only to mask their savory flavors with heaping spoonfuls of sauce.

If you simply can’t lose the barbecue sauce, at least go half and half (that’s half with sauce and the other half without it).

Why should you consider this? There’s about 70 calories in two tablespoons of barbecue sauce. By eating a few pieces of drenched meat, chicken or seafood, you’re looking at 210 calories in sauce alone!

Related Article: Unsuspecting Condiments Are Ruining Your Diet

Tip #2 

Reduce your calorie consumption by easing up on classic sides like macaroni & cheese, potato salad, and corn on the cobb. Switch it up by adding a variety of non-starchy vegetables to the menu. Veggies are great for grilling.

Some of my personal favorites include multicolor bell peppers, red onion, red cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, and broccoli.

Why should you consider this? The average plate at a barbecue is 2,000 calories. This might include three pieces of chicken with sauce, macaroni & cheese, potato salad, corn on the cob, chips, and bread.

Adding insult to injury, most people consume more than one full plate in a day.

Related Article: Eight Super-Simple Ways to Get More Veggies Into Your Diet

Tip #3

If you intend on drinking, opt for light beer, dry and semi-dry wines or low-calorie mixed drinks. While occasional alcohol consumption has proven health benefits, drinking even just a little too much can exert adverse side effects including unwanted weight gain.

In addition to making the right drinking choices, limit your intake to no more than 1-2 properly portioned beverages.

Why should you consider this? Alcohol is comprised of empty calories, which can put a real hurting on your calorie budget! For instance, an ounce of hard liquor (vodka, cognac or whiskey) houses an average of 70 calories.

So, if you mix three ounces of hard liquor with four ounces of cranberry juice or soda, you’re looking at about 270 calories in just one mixed drink.

Related Article: Simple Ways to Enjoy Alcohol Without Gaining Weight

And there you have it! Three simple hacks for a healthier Labor Day! Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, you should also get in some physical activity over the holiday weekend to get a leg up on your calorie budget.

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