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The warm weather begs for cookouts, baseball games, lazy days by the water, amusement parks, and holiday celebrations. But alongside these fun events come fried chicken, hot dogs, cocktails, funnel cakes, and potato salad. Everywhere you look, high-calorie foods bombard your summertime senses. Don’t let the food temptations of summer pack the pounds back on after all your wintertime work!
Here are a few common high-calorie culprits to steer clear of and alternative options to choose instead. Keep in mind, a bite here or there of summer treats won’t ruin your diet. As you decide which foods to enjoy, try to consume less than 2,000 calories and 65 grams of fat each day to maintain a healthy weight.
What’s summer without barbeque? Grilling with family and friends is a summer staple. Just beware the meat you’re putting on the grill! Ribs may be finger-licking good, but they’re also some of the fattiest meat from pork or beef. A 20-ounce steak alone may contain 1,540 calories and almost twice your daily amount of fat (124 grams). When deciding what meat to grill, choose chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, or lean portions of meat that don’t contain white streaks of fat or visible fat around the edges.
Love it when a hamburgers is so juicy it dribbles down your chin? Sadly, that juicy, high-fat cheeseburger contains—on average—735 calories and 45 grams of fat. Choose leaner meat or ground turkey and dress it up with tomato or barbeque sauce.
Many people love nothing more than a hot dog or bratwurst while watching summer baseball. A dog here or there isn’t reason for concern, but the calories will quickly add up when you eat two or three in one sitting. The average hot dog contains 280 calories and 15 grams of fat. Bratwursts can be even more dangerous, as they are particularly high in sodium and fat.
A third favorite main dish of summer is fried chicken. Picking up a bucket on the way to a family picnic may make an easy meal, but will also make a growing waistline and clogged arteries.
Fried foods and poultry skin are high in calories and fat. Opt for grilled skinless chicken breasts instead and you’ll easily save 150 calories and 13 grams of fat in a single meal.
What’s a cookout without potato salad, pasta salad, or coleslaw? Unfortunately, these summer side staples are typically made with mayonnaise, a major high-calorie offender. In fact, one large serving of potato salad can easily contain more 400 calories. Be on the safe side and choose grilled or raw veggies instead, and steer clear of the high-calorie veggie dip.
Foods aren’t the only way to get too many calories during the summer months. Beer, fruity cocktails, sweet tea, and milk shakes are all high in calories. Treat these indulgences as desserts and drink them in moderation only occasionally. Choose un-sweet tea or sparkling water instead and you’ll cut hundreds of calories from your diet.
Visit the carnival, boardwalk, or amusement park and your senses will be attacked by the tempting smells of fried foods. Funnel cake, fried cheesecake, fried macaroni and cheese, and fried meats may be calling your name, but resist the temptation and indulge in a caramel apple, cotton candy instead, or Italian Ice instead. These options aren’t calorie free but they’re much better options than their fried counterparts.
You might want to think twice before eating a funnel cake this summer at the fair. Coming in at 760 calories and 44 grams of fat, it’s a festival food to forego for sure.