Summer cookouts, road trips, ball games, and beach days are what make the season so sweet. But while you’re enjoying the fun and sun, don’t take a vacation from healthy eating. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself with more pounds by Labor Day than you had on Memorial Day.
Use these slimming strategies to avoid summer’s worst diet saboteurs:
1. Ice Cream
Nothing feels like summer more than ice cream on a sweltering day. But the sweet delight of one of summer’s best treats comes with a high calorie price: a cup of premium ice cream has a whopping 500 calories and 25 grams of sugar (about 6 teaspoons).
The good news is you don’t have to give up ice cream to keep your hard-earned swimsuit body. New, creamier lower-calorie options can help you enjoy your favorite frozen treat – guilt-free. Halo Top’s Vanilla Bean ice cream has just 120 calories per cup – that’s a fraction of typical premium brands. What’s more, a one-cup serving has 10 grams of filling protein to keep you satisfied. Another option is portion-controlled novelties like 100 percent fruit pops, light ice cream sandwiches, and fudge bars that have about 100-150 calories each.
‘Tis the season for burgers, brats, and hot dogs – and creamy potato salads and other calorie and saturated fat packed side dishes! Navigating a summer cookout without blowing your calorie budget may seem impossible, but with a few smart swaps you can cut calories and boost nutrition, without sacrificing taste.
If it’s burgers you’re craving, use the leanest ground beef possible (ground sirloin is leaner) or ground turkey breast. Add moisture and nutrition by mixing meat with an egg, chopped onion, and other veggies. If you’re like me, you may want to skip the meat altogether and grill up delicious Portabella mushroom burgers. One of my favorite summer meals is a rich Portabella mushroom burger topped with greens, avocado, tomato, grilled onion, and a slice of Swiss cheese.
For hot dogs, you can slash saturated fat by choosing chicken or turkey-based varieties instead of beef. There are also some great-tasting vegetarian dogs on the market that are low in both calories and saturated fat. Applegate’s turkey hot dogs have just 50 calories, 7 grams of protein and 1 gram of saturated fat compared to 150 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat in most beef hot dogs.
For a perfect summer pasta salad, combine penne with in-season favorites like tomatoes, zucchini, and asparagus. As an added nutritional boost (without sacrificing great taste!) I use Barilla Whole Grain pasta made with 100 percent whole wheat. It offers 56 grams of whole grains and 6 grams of fiber per serving, which is three times the fiber of Barilla’s traditional pasta.
3. Road Trip Meals and Snacks
A summer road trip can mean multiple stops at fast food restaurants or convenience stores. But a typical drive-thru meal can equal more than 1,200 calories – more than half of what most people need for an entire day.
Smart Solutions: Save money, time, and your waistline by packing your own meals and snacks. For a lunch that satisfies, pack a hummus and veggie wrap. Pump up the protein by using a protein-rich wrap like Flatout Light (9 grams protein, 8 grams fiber for just 90 calories).
Remember that you need to stay more hydrated in the summer time heat, but limit calories from beverages. Opt for unsweetened iced tea, water, or flavored (calorie-free) seltzer instead of soda, energy drinks, or high-calorie iced coffee drinks.