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Healthy Barbecue Ideas for the Fourth of July

By Carole Anderson Lucia

Updated: June 14, 2022


The Fourth of July is a day filled with fireworks, fun and barbecued food. If you're trying to lose weight, you may think you need to hold off on the celebrations.


Think again! You can still enjoy the holiday while enjoying the foods you love with plenty of healthy barbecue ideas to support your goals. To help you stay on-track, we’ve compiled our best tips for hosting your own healthy barbecue this Fourth of July.


The number one way to have a healthy Fourth of July is to plan ahead. If you're starving at a barbecue surrounded by platters of macaroni salad and ice cream treats, it is going to feel a lot more challenging to choose a healthier option or refrain from overeating.


But with deliberate planning, you can enjoy the holiday while still eating well. Here are our top tips to help keep this Fourth of July on the healthy side.

Nourish your body before the celebration

FourthofJuly_HealthyRecipes.jpgYou know that feeling when you go to the grocery store hungry? Suddenly, everything in the aisle looks amazing, and it’s easy to go overboard. The same goes for summer barbecues, holiday eating and dining out. By giving your body healthy fuel beforehand, you’ll likely not feel as ravenous or as tempted to grab something less nutritious.


Try this: enjoy a fruit with some protein. Options we love include an apple with a teaspoon of nut butter or a small handful of berries sprinkled over yogurt.


If you do indulge, instead of piling your plate high, try practicing a few mindful eating techniques and enjoy a smaller portion of your favorite treat. 

Bring your own healthy Fourth of July recipes

The best way to make sure there is healthy food to eat is to bring it!


There are plenty of recipes to make food that is nutritious and great-tasting. When you’re excited about the healthy dish you’ve created, you may be less likely to stray from your plan with higher calorie, less-than-stellar options.


Here are a couple of ideas for healthy holiday recipes:


●     Sliced veggies and carrots + Summer Salsa

●     Lettuce Wrap Tacos

Substitute soda

FourthofJuly_SodaAlt.jpgOne of the easiest ways to cut way down on calories is to avoid soda and sugary juices. It’s easy to forget that soda is a hidden sugar bomb. Did you know:


●     The average soda contains more sugar than the recommended dose for women each day (6 teaspoons) and is essentially the whole daily amount for men (9 teaspoons.)1-2

●     Soda is packed with empty calories (which are calories that provide no nutritional value for your body.)1


Looking for a healthy solution? Substitute a cola with an alternative, such as sparkling water, which helps replicate the carbonation without the added calories and sugar. Infuse more flavor into your water by adding fruits like lemons, oranges, and cucumbers.


Check out these 10 tips for drinking more water — on the Fourth of July or any day!

Be mindful of your portions

FourthOfJuly_Plates.jpgYou’ve probably heard the expression, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach” — and when you’re at a barbecue surrounded by food, it can be easy to relate. When there are so many delicious choices, it can be easy to load your plate with more food than you intend. Try to start by selecting a few reasonable portions of your favorite, healthy options to put on your plate and then savor every bite! You can always come back for more if you’re still hungry. You may even find that by taking your time to enjoy your meal and letting your stomach signal to your brain feelings of fullness, you don’t want seconds after all.


One of the best ways to stay on track with your weight loss goals is portion control. Following a weight loss program doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any of the delicious treats over the holiday. Use this visual portion guide to help you indulge in moderation. Being aware of your portions can lead to a guilt-free Fourth of July.


FourthofJuly_KeepItGoing.jpgAnother simple way to keep track of your portion sizes is to use smaller plates. One study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that reducing the size of your plate can have a significant impact on how much food you consume.3 Swapping a 12-inch plate for a 9-inch dish could potentially shave off around 250 calories a meal.4


How can you use this approach on Independence Day? If you’re hosting a get together, set out a variety of small to mid-sized plates. 

Keep it going!

Now that you have a few healthy barbecue ideas for the Fourth of July, keep it going so you can feel great all summer long! We know summertime can be busy with the kids home from school, but you can still find ways to stick to your weight loss program. Learn how to prevent summer weight gain while balancing kids and endless summer barbecues!


Are you looking for a weight loss program that provides support along with delicious, pre-planned meals so you can enjoy the most out of your summer? Contact Jenny Craig and learn more about our most effective plan ever!





[1] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.Wyqty9Pwau5

[2] https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/tip-sugar-in-drinks.pdf

[3] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/236S/4863399  

[4] http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/larger-plate-sizes-affect-portion-control


Carole Anderson Lucia

bio-photo-Carole.pngCarole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.


Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus



This article is was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals. 


Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.


This article contains trusted sources. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.


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