You know summer has arrived and with it a bevy of fattening foods: backyard barbecues, chasing the ice cream truck and hot dogs at the ball game. Don’t let lighter-sounding fare trip you up, though. Below, some shocking calorie traps and healthier choices for when you’re lounging at the beach:
Mayo on the side. A half-cup portion of cookout staple potato salad will net you 180 calories and 12 grams of fat; the same amount of coleslaw is about 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. Cut calories by making your salads with light mayonnaise or mixing mayo with low-fat yogurt or light sour cream.
High-fat meats on the grill. Barbecue can lay waist to your waistline. A 20-ounce T-bone steak can set you back 1,540 calories and 124 grams of fat. A smaller cheeseburger still packs 750 calories and 45 grams of fat. A bucket of fried chicken can feed a crowd in a heartbeat (while wreaking havoc on your bloodstream). And pork or beef ribs? They come from the fattiest part of the animal. But you don’t have to go meatless this summer. Go lean with skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin and lean ground beef. Spice things up with marinades and rubs.
The seventh-inning stretch. Is it a baseball game if you don’t have hot dogs and sausages? If “play ball” is synonymous with wiener for you, choose low-fat versions. Do keep in mind, however, that most hot dogs and other sausages are high in sodium, even the low-fat ones. A typical hot dog is about 1,250 mg of sodium, while a six-ounce kielbasa has 1,590 mg of sodium.
Salad stoppers. What’s healthier than bowls of veggies and lean protein? That’s why salads can be the perfect summer meal. But high-calorie toppers—cheese, bacon, croutons, fried chicken strips and creamy dressings—can push a salad from lean to fattening in a flash. Throw grilled chicken, strips of lean meat or eggs on your greens instead, and then pile on the veggies and drizzle with a light dressing.
Teetotalers need not apply. Sweet, fruity alcoholic concoctions may seem refreshing, but the calories can burn you. A daiquiri can range from 300 to 800 calories, a piña colada from 245 to 490 calories and a Long Island iced tea about 520 calories—much of it from sugar. Sip wine, a wine spritzer, or a mixed drink with seltzer and a splash of 100 percent fruit juice instead.
Gimme a cold one. Staying hydrated is crucial during the dog days, but some cold drinks can bust your calorie budget. If you’re drinking 12-ounce bottles of sweet tea, sweetened soda, energy drinks, juice drinks or beer, you’re sucking down about 150 calories a pop. Smoothies, milkshakes and frozen coffee drinks can contain much higher calorie counts. Try light versions of your favorite thirst quenchers or water.
Have fun at the fair. You don’t need us to tell you this: The country fair, amusement parks and beach boardwalks serve up delicious, but deep-fried disasters. From funnel cakes to fried macaroni and cheese to jumbo turkey legs, most eat-while-you-walk foods are a calorie catastrophe. Healthier options include cotton candy, caramel apples or a simple grilled meat. When all else fails, split your treat with a friend.
We all scream for ice cream. Does your heart still race when you hear the ice cream truck song? Know this: A cup of soft-serve ice cream can have 380 calories and 22 grams of fat. Add mix-ins and boost the calorie count even higher. Of course, there’s nothing that says summer quite like ice cream, so we’re not saying give up frozen treats. Just pass on super-sized portions and high-fat toppings. Choose instead frozen desserts like sherbet or fruit bars.