Jennifer Low is a Registered Dietitian, with an MSc in Nutrition and a degree in Psychology. Clinically she specialises in disordered eating, bariatric surgery and IBS.

The sun is (let’s hope) shining, we’re happy and in holiday mode. Tis the season for garden parties – and that means calorie-laden barbecue food and alcohol. So how can we manage our weight and health when faced with temptation?



At a barbecue people tend to eat more than they do in a typical main meal. This is OK for a one-off, but if you go to loads, you’ll find your weight creeping up. When else would you have chicken, beefburgers and sausages at one go? The quantities of meat eaten at a barbecue would be enough for three main meals. Add sides and the dressings and you could be consuming 1000kcals (or more) in a single meal.


Watch what you eat…

Skip the nibbles – the calories in crisps and nuts add up and make you more thirsty. If you’re drinking alcohol, you may end up drinking more than you planned to.
Fill your plate with salad or veggies when the main meal is ready. Avoid the dressings or just use balsamic vinegar – or balsamic glaze, which is very low in calories and tastes delicious.
Have a fist-sized portion of carbs – a small bread roll OR 1-2 tbsp of potato salad or pasta salad.
Have a palm-sized serving of meat – 2 sausages OR 1 burger OR 1 small chicken breast.
Just have one plateful – don’t go back for more. If you’re hosting, offer guests doggy bags if there are lots of leftovers.
If you’re the host, offer fish/meat skewers with lots of veggies: red onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes, courgettes. Use halloumi instead of fish or meat for a veggie option.
Got a sweet tooth? Stick to a small portion of pavlova, or opt for fruit salad (no cream). If you’re hosting, fruit skewers are a fun way to serve fruit.

When it comes to drinks…

Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free liquids (diet drinks, no added sugar squash, sparkling water).
Limit alcohol intake to 2-3 units – that’s 175ml of wine or 1-2 bottles of beer. And watch out for people refilling your glass while you’re chatting.
Pimms alert! This popular summer drink is 25% alcohol (170-220kcal, 18-12tsp sugar and 1.3-2.6 units of alcohol) – it depends on how it is mixed, but can be very strong. As it’s normally mixed with lemonade, the sugar content is high too. It’s a good idea to mix it with diet lemonade. But you need to watch the amount of alcohol if it’s mixed without measuring the Pimms.