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Enjoy BBQ season guiltfree

Enjoy BBQ season guiltfree

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It's summertime and the eating is easy - too easy. When the weather is sweet and the days are long, it's the perfect time to fire up the grill, round up family and friends, and feast. Everybody loves a barbecue, but if you're trying to watch your weight, big food spreads may make you groan.

Here are some ideas to help you enjoy all that delicious summer fare without guilt:

Pay attention to portions. Use these points of reference:

• A tennis-ball or baseball-size serving equals about 1 cup (or use your clenched fist as a rough estimate). This measure is useful for scoopable sides like potato, pasta and bean salads. If you're trying to keep a cap on calories, aim for 1 cup total of these starchy dishes.

• Your cellphone or a deck of cards equals about 3 ounces of meat. This measure comes in handy for estimating servings of steak, chicken and fish.

• Your thumb equals about 1 tablespoon. This measure comes in handy when you're trying to estimate dressing or a spread. Most full-fat salad dressings have 50 to 100 calories per tablespoon (creamy ones fall toward the higher end); mayo (at 100 calories per tablespoon) is another one to watch. Choose reduced-fat varieties, which usually have half the calories, whenever you can.

Fill up on vegetables first.

• Eat loads of green salad - with only a couple of tablespoons of dressing, preferably one lower in fat.

• Crunch on the crudites instead of the chips - and go easy on the dips.

Prioritize your favorite food.

• If you're dying for a cheeseburger, get in line at the grill. Stick with a green salad or grilled vegetables and fruit as sides.

• Not so big on buns? Go for grilled chicken, fish or tofu on top of greens and spend that starch serving on a scoop of the potato salad you truly love.

• Have a piece of lean protein (chicken, fish), grilled vegetables and a healthy side (1/2 cup or so of baked beans or a bean salad) so you can indulge in dessert.

When you're finished, go play.

• Start tossing a ball with the kids.

• Rally the adults to play horseshoes or some other outdoor game.

There's no need to jump around like a fool to "burn off" dinner; the point is to pull yourself away from the chips and salsa.

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