Ahhh, it's summer! Cocktails at the pool, lots of fried chicken, potato salad, ice cream, hot dogs, and beer. Summertime living may be easy, but if you’re not careful, summer's fattening foods can really pack on the pounds. While most people are more active during the summer, it may not be enough to burn off all the extra calories from fattening summer treats.
A small half-cup portion of typical potato salad has 180 calories and 12 grams of fat; the same amount of coleslaw has about 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. To cut calories, try making your salads with light mayonnaise; or mix mayo with low-fat yogurt, light sour cream, or chicken stock. Or why not try a potato salad, using more vinegar than oil? Then toss lots of veggies into any salad to increase the fiber and nutrients.
Sweet, fruity alcoholic drinks (the kind often served with an umbrella) may go down easy, but the calories add up in a hurry. A piña colada can range from 245-490 calories, a daiquiri from 300-800 calories and a Long Island iced tea can set you back 520 calories or more -- with much of it from sugar. Instead of high-calorie drinks, try wine or a mixed drink with a splash of 100% fruit juice.
Satisfying Thirst Quenchers
Staying hydrated is essential in summer, but those cold drinks can wreak havoc with your waistline. Be careful what you choose -- if you're drinking 12-ounces of sweet tea, sweetened soda, energy drinks, juice drinks, or beer, you're probably taking in about 150 calories each time. Smoothies, milkshakes, and cold coffee concoctions can go much higher. Keep liquids in check and drink water or light versions of your favorite quenchers.
Refreshing Frozen Treats
A cup of soft-serve ice cream can have 380 calories and 22 grams of fat. Look for desserts like sherbet, fudge bars, fruit bars, or other treats under 150 calories per serving or fruit desserts like strawberry shortcakes, etc.
Salads can be the perfect summer dinner: light, refreshing, and a perfect way to get your produce and lean protein. If you top your salad with high-calorie items, it can actually go from lean to fattening! High-calorie dressings, fried chicken strips, bacon, cheese, and croutons are among the biggest offenders. Instead, top your greens with grilled chicken, strips of lean meat, or eggs, then pile on the veggies and top with a light dressing.
Mindless Munching on Snacks
A handful of any kind of snack won't do much harm but eating too much can sabotage your diet. Each ounce of potato chips or cheese puffs is roughly 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. Cheese nachos will set you back 692 calories (plus 38 g fat and 1,632 mg sodium); and a 10-cup box of movie theater popcorn has 550 calories, 31 g fat, and 972 mg sodium. Try snacking on fruits, veggies with light dip, or small portions of fat-free popcorn.
Finger-Licking Fried Chicken
A bucket of fried chicken is an easy way to feed a crowd, but it can wreak havoc on your waistline (and arteries), especially when you eat more than one. So forgo fried and replace it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill. A 3.5 oz. skinned chicken breast has only 167 calories and 7 grams of fat, compared to a KFC fried chicken breast with 360 calories and 21 g of fat. Add flavor with marinades, and spices, or top it with fresh salsa.