How to Master the Clean Aussie BBQ

Summer time in Australia is all about sun, fun and the traditional Aussie barbecue. And with Australia Day just around the corner, the barbeque prep goes into full swing right across the country!

While barbequing is the cornerstone of the summer social calendar – heightened over the Australian Day holiday – it unfortunately does have its downfalls, especially for people with Type 2 diabetes who are actively trying to make more healthy dietary decisions.

The problem is, many of the yummy items on the typical barbie menu are processed meats, like sausages, rissoles and meat patties.

It’s also rare for the chef to trim the fat from meats prior to cooking, resulting in a higher fat meat as it melts into the cut during cooking.

Unfortunately, when it comes to high-fat and processed meats, it’s best for people with Type 2 diabetes and those who might be at risk to steer clear.

But that does not mean that you have to do away with summer barbecues all together.

According to Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Kate Save, most food cooked on the barbecue is low GI given that it is generally high in protein.

This is good for people with Type 2 diabetes, however the catch is to choose better cuts of meat and to look at what the meat is actually served with.

“For example, choose wholegrain bread rather than white, opt for green salads rather than creamy alternatives and add vegetables to the barbecue for grilling.

“These make for a great side dish to serve with meat and also helps reduce the total meat portions and calories,” she says.

Mastering the meat selection  

According to the experts, there are some great barbeque-appropriate meat options for those living with Type 2 diabetes or even pre-diabetes.

This means that if you are actively monitoring what you eat, you don’t have to miss out the BBQ fun and festivities, you simply need to make healthier choices – all of which is made easy by the lean meat options we’ve provided below.

So next time you’re planning your backyard barbeque or Australia Day celebrations, switch things up and consider these simple alternatives to the usual selection of steaks and sausages:

  • Shasliks:

    On a skewer, combine lean meat or chicken with capsicum, onion, mushroom and zucchini. This makes for a fun and easy entrée or main meal which is loaded with necessary goodness.

  • Chicken skewers:

    Create a homemade, healthy marinade with lemon and pepper or Asian style honey soy. Simply marinade the chicken and skewer up when ready to cook. Simple to prepare and saves on cutlery!

  • Lean pork fillets:

    For a simple, no fuss meat option, opt for lean pork fillets. Not only are they tasty, they’re loaded with protein.

  • Lean rissoles:

    Create your own by combining lean mince with grated vegetables. This creates a yummy, yet healthy meat option with the added benefits of the nutrient-rich vegetables – a great way to trick the kids into getting their daily intake of greens.

  • Fish:

    Simply cook in foil and add flavour with fresh lemon, tomato, onion and black pepper. A light alternative to red meat which is loaded with essential nutrients such as vitamin B-6 and B-12.

  • Eye fillet steak:

    If you love your red meat, that’s completely fine. Simply opt for a small portion and serve with loads of salad.

The good news is, when it comes to choosing your meat most are actually fine, provided they are lean and trimmed.

“This goes for beef, pork fillet, lamb loin, skinless chicken and fish,” says Save.

“But it’s best to avoid fatty chops, chicken skin, regular sausages and other processed meat.

“For added nutrients and colour, be sure to add green salads to your menu. For some seasonal flavour, mix them up with some fresh mango, nuts and seeds, or simply opt for a Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and a small amount of feta cheese.

“It’s best to avoid any form of creamy salad and dressing,” says Save. “A coleslaw with an Asian style dressing or traditional vinaigrette is a much better option for those looking to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.”

Surviving the pre-BBQ snacks

And while it’s great to focus on the best cuts of meat and the most nutritious salads and sides, all this effort has little benefit if you overindulge on the inevitable snacks before the main meal.

Chips, dips and cheeses can be the downfall of even the most disciplined eaters at social gatherings, and these types of snacks are par for the course at most barbecues.

To avoid unnecessary temptation or overindulgence before the main meal, Kate suggests using raw vegetable sticks instead of chips and crackers.

“If you do want to enjoy some of these treats, my recommendation is to have at least a 3 to 1 ratio (of crackers versus vegetable sticks). This way, you are less likely to overindulge and you will also get a boost of vitamins, mineral and dietary fibre too.

“Also choose healthy dips like hummus and tzatziki, or simply make your own nutritious dips using beetroot, salsas and avocados. As a general rule, opt for dips with a yoghurt base rather than cream cheese.”

So this Australia Day, think smart and choose wisely, and you too can absolutely enjoy the good old Aussie barbecue with the rest of them. Happy barbequing!


Kate Save is an accredited Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist. She has been engaged by Sanofi to provide regular expert commentary for Diabetes-Care. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.


If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the key to improved nutrition is simple: eat good quality food at regular intervals. For people diagn...
Woman working out Australian Diabetes statistics
Enter your post code *Pharmacist in charge has completed Sanofi sponsored Education

Please enter a valid postcode.