"Barbecues, cookouts and picnics are built for grazing," says registered dietitian.
Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in the summer, but so do some diet wreckers. “Barbecues, cookouts and picnics are built for grazing,” says Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Some common trouble spots:
Summer “salads“. Potato salad, pasta salad and coleslaw might sound healthy, but they can be high in calories and fat. Half a cup of potato salad, for example, can pack 200 calories. Keep portions small or lighten salads by cutting mayonnaise content in half — you can sub in nonfat Greek yogurt — and adding mustard and diced vegetables for flavor.
Mixed drinks. Margaritas, daiquiris and other mixed drinks are high in sugar and can easily top 400 calories. Stick to wine spritzers, light beer or sparkling water with a twist of lime, and alternate alcoholic beverages with water (but remember: doctors recommend no more than one drink a day for women and two for men).
Frozen drinks. A 20 oz. fruit smoothie can run 500 calories, while a 16 oz. iced coffee concoction can add 400. Order small sizes, ask for coffee drinks with nonfat milk and no whipped cream and make homemade smoothies with fresh fruit, ice and nonfat yogurt.
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Cookout spreads. Research shows the more food you have in front of you, the more you’ll eat. Look over everything before you start loading your plate. Then fill up with fruits, vegetables and lean meats such as grilled chicken or fish, along with small portions of your favorite treats. And spend more time mingling and playing games than eating!
Festival foods. You’ll run into plenty of burgers, ice cream and funnel cakes. Tame cravings — and beat crowds — by heading to a festival just after breakfast, or have a small, healthy snack beforehand. Scope out healthier options such as real fruit pops or grilled corn on the cob, and split less healthy fare.