Navigating Cookouts when you are on a Low Carb Diet

family having picnic on terrace

As I get ready to go to another summer cookout, I thought I would share some of my strategies for staying lower carb. Being insulin resistant, I try to stick to a lower carb diet. But, I don’t find it easy to stick to my Way of Eating when I’m at cookouts and social gatherings. I need to use these strategies if I am going to do what is right for my body.

I am all for celebrating special occasions and indulging some on holidays. As long as you don’t lose your mind (i.e. eat half the dessert table) and are able to get back on track the day after, you won’t see too much of an interruption in your progress. But, when there’s a celebration every weekend, we need prioritize health for ourselves. And, in today’s case, my husband’s cousin’s friends pool party is not a “special occasion”. With that said, I still plan on having a good time And staying true to my Way of Eating.

barbecue bbq beef charcoal, great options for someone who is insulin resistant

Know you will have options

My first strategy is to remind myself that I am still going to have access to food and water… I’m not going to starve (or have to intermittent fast all day, although that is a strategy too). There will usually be hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, and water in the cooler. As long as I forgo the buns, and skip the high carb side dishes, I’ll be good!

Stay busy with friends and family

Next, I remind myself I will have plenty to keep me busy. I will have family and friends to visit with, and my boys will want me to play in the pool. I don’t need to hang around the food table making it harder for my will power.

Remember your Reasons

I also need to review my reasons for why I am eating healthier for myself. You can find my list here. Remembering why I am making these decisions really helps me stick to my guns. It’s not easy to say no when someone offers you cake or your favorite chips. But, having your reasons not to makes it possible to avoid them. My 2 main reasons are to control my blood pressure, and avoid pain in my joints after. What are your reasons?

Plan ahead with options for triggers

If I know I will be craving sweets later, I will pack something that I can have. It could be an Atkins treat (not the best, but portable and works in a pinch), mints or gum work too. Or, I will promise myself a low carb sweet once we get home.

Offer to bring something to contribute

Lastly, if I am not sure what will be available for foods, I will offer to bring something. Deviled eggs are my favorite to bring and share. What do you usually bring? Is it low carb or could you find a low carb option to share? You never know! There may be others who are also insulin resistant and trying to eat this way too!

I hope my strategies help you navigate cookouts and gatherings for the rest of the summer. These tips can be applied to any social gathering, which can be helpful as we go into school and holiday seasons.


I felt I should include a summary of how I did with the cookout that day. It turned out that it was not a typical American party with hot dogs and hamburgers. The family hosting is Portuguese. If you have never had Portuguese food, you should. It is delicious! But, a lot of it is not low carb. There was plate with pork and potatoes, another with rice and seafood. A pile of papo secos (Portuguese rolls) were in the corner ready to make sandwiches. Half of the table space was covered with sweets!

But, I looked around and found a few things I could eat for dinner. One was chouriço and peppers, and the other was caçoila (shredded pork). My plate was delicious and filling! I didn’t need all the other offerings (although the pastel de nata were tempting). When we got home and I made myself a low carb chocolate mousse.

I hope you enjoy your cookouts this summer. Share a strategy you use when going to social events. What are your favorite low carb dishes to share? How do you feel about celebrating special occasions while being insulin resistant? Do you stick to your Way of Eating, or do you allow yourself a day to eat foods you normally wouldn’t?

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