What a Dietitian Eats at Ribfest

This past long weekend I headed to my parents’ house to spend the last hurrah of summer with my family. My sister and her boyfriend recently moved back here from England, so we’ve been catching up on missed time! On our agenda for the weekend, like every Labour Day weekend, was Burlington’s Ribfest.


Burlington actually has the largest Ribfest in the country, so it brings in some of the top “ribbers” (apparently that’s what they’re called?) in Canada serving up beastly racks of ribs along with other barbecue fare.

Barbecue can be a difficult cuisine to navigate when looking to make healthy choices. Between the fatty meats, sugar laden beans, fried side options, and coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, there isn’t really much fresh fare. So what does a dietitian eat at a rib fest?

Ribs, duh. And some pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread too. Oh and a few pieces of a blooming onion.


I mean, you could maybe order more healthily by getting the BBQ chicken and removing the skin before eating, draining the excess dressing off the coleslaw, and bringing your own vegetables to round out the meal. Or you could not go to the ribfest at all, and opt to stay in rather than spending time with your friends or family.  That’s probably what some health magazines would tell  you to do.

But as a dietitian, I wouldn’t go for either of those options and I wouldn’t expect my clients to either. Life is about so much more than the pursuit of the ultimate healthy diet.  And frankly it really doesn’t matter what you eat on special occasions and once-a-year events like Ribfest – what’s important is how you eat the majority of the time in your day to day life. So enjoy your social life and eat some crap from time to time!

Your turn: What’s your approach to eating at events like Ribfest? What does balance look like to you?


Filed under nutrition

3 Responses to What a Dietitian Eats at Ribfest

  1. When I read the title of this post, I was like I hope she says Ribs and of course you did. This is why we get on so well.

  2. Brilliant post, Chelsea! Eating out is so much more than the food- it’s about the experience and creating memories with your loved ones. And as I’m sure you will agree, the occasional not-so-healthy meal is not going to make a difference to your health or waistline in the slightest. If anything, it will likely boost your mental health :)!

  3. While I would personally would sit ribfest out for obvious reasons, I can still appreciate the message of this post. I’m all for the occasional indulgence and I think a healthy diet would be nearly impossible without them. If I deny myself a donut (or whatever) when I want one then I would eventually go crazy and eat all the donuts!

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