Just like winter (with its holidays and comfort food), summer can be a time when it’s easy to sabotage your healthy eating goals. Fortunately, there are easy ways to stay on track. “First, there’s always a healthy option for the type of food you want. Second, it’s not only what you choose to eat but how you prepare it that makes the big difference,” says Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon in California. Here’s how to enjoy your summer and eat healthy too.
1. Go easy on sugary drinks.
Enjoy iced tea and lemonade in moderation. “Commercially sweetened iced tea has 80 calories per glass, lemonade has 99 calories and most commercial fruit juices are about 80 calories per 8 ounces, which is roughly the same amount of calories as a regular cola,” says Quebbemann. Instead, when you’re craving a sweet drink, he suggests diluting 100% fruit juice with an equal portion of water.
2. Keep the fresh in fruit salad.
Fruit may seem like a good choice — and it is — but not if your salad is filled with canned fruit soaked in syrup, loaded with whipped cream and garnished with mini marshmallows, as it often is at summer picnics, says Quebbemann. Make it healthier by using fresh fruit rather than canned, and opt for light whipped cream or plain yogurt (which provides extra protein). Replace the marshmallows with banana or melon slices to add more sweetness.
3. Stick with healthier carnival foods.
“Hot dogs are high in saturated fat, calories, preservatives and loaded with sodium," says Saba Sassouni, RD, a New York City-based dietitian. “If you desire a savory meal, go for the chicken or turkey gyro or chicken kebab options.” Chicken on a stick is also a healthier option. To satisfy a sweet tooth, ditch fried, sugar-topped funnel cakes and snack on kettle corn samples, instead, Sassouni says.
4. Go easy on the toppings.
Ending the day with a dish of ice cream can put your daily calorie intake over the top, especially if you choose a variety with added mix-ins. Instead of a giant sundae with lots of toppings, “Get a cone, the lowest-calorie option,” suggests Quebbemann. “Moderation is key.”
5. Mind your chips and dip.
It’s easy to lose track of how many chips you’ve eaten, and the fat and calories add up quickly — especially when you dunk them into creamy dip, says Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of “Clean Eating for Busy Families.”
“An ounce of potato chips contains 150 calories, and it’s easy to mindlessly eat two to three times this amount.” For a healthier option, chow down on sliced veggies with hummus or a yogurt-based dip, instead.
6. Keep summer salads light.
Salads can be a great, low-calorie food choice — or a major calorie bomb. To keep things light, top summer salads with low-fat dressing, or make your own and substitute Greek yogurt for mayo, Quebbemann suggests.
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