Most people know to be prepared to fight weight gain in the winter, when the holidays and decreased activity can lead to a few extra pounds. But summer -- with its backyard barbecues, s'mores around the campfire, and yummy ice cream treats -- can also be a diet-sabotaging season if you're not careful. Here are some nutrition and fitness tips to help avoid weight gain this summer:
Make Lighter Sides
Pasta salad goes great with burgers and dogs, but one cup of pasta salad can equal more than 500 calories. To save calories, use whole-wheat pasta and light vinaigrette or low-calorie Italian dressing. When you make coleslaw or potato salad, use light or non-fat mayonnaise.
Watch What You Drink
It's nice to have a refreshing, cold drink when it's hot out, but high-calorie beverages like regular soda, juices, alcohol, and sweetened iced tea add empty calories and won't fill you up. Instead, drink water with lemon or lime, or try seltzer or unsweetened iced tea.
Be Active on Vacation
Summer is a great time for beach vacations, but try not to spend all your days relaxing in the sand. Go for a swim, try kayaking, or take a hike -- anything that will get you burning calories.
Eat Fresh Fruit for Dessert
Instead of high-calorie, high-fat desserts, enjoy seasonal, fresh fruits. Watermelon is a great choice because it's low in calories (only 46 calories per cup), and it fills you up because it's 92 percent water.
Avoid Binging at Summer Parties
Many summer activities, like picnics and barbecues, revolve around an unlimited spread of food. Be smart when you're at these types of events. Don't overload your plate and try to avoid going back for seconds. Make spending time with family and friends your focus, not the food.
Go Easy on the Burgers and Dogs
It's tough to be at a barbecue or picnic and resist the temptation to eat burgers and hot dogs. If you have to eat that hot dog, try to stick to healthier toppings like sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard or relish. Stay away from cheesy sauces and chili. When you make your own burgers, try using the leanest beef, and throw in some chopped veggies such as mushrooms, onions and peppers to increase nutrients and save on calories.
Eat Grilled Veggies
Prepare healthy grilled veggies, such as corn on the cob (use no-calorie butter spray) or make veggie kabobs with zucchini, onions, tomatoes and eggplant.
Beat the Heat
Don't let the heat be an excuse not to exercise. Do your runs early in the morning or late in the evening, and make sure that you're staying hydrated on the run. If it's too hot and humid to run outside, move your runs indoors to the treadmill or try a different activity, like swimming.
Limit Ice Cream and Other Treats
It's easy to make eating ice cream a regular habit in the summer, but try to limit frozen treats like ice cream to no more than once a week. Or, better yet, stick to low-calorie but refreshing alternatives like ice pops or sorbet.
Bob Zunino, B.A., A.F.A.A. Personal Trainer Tel/Fax: 510.530.3748 Email: email@example.com