Summer is a season of fresh fruits, salads, swimming, and beach volleyball. We don’t expect to gain weight, yet packing on pounds is easier than we realize. The warmer months mean more flexibility in our schedules. Carnivals and barbecues offer a smorgasbord of high-calorie food and drink options. For many of us, taking a vacation also means taking a break from healthy eating habits. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep weight gain at bay this summer.
Some of us find our schedules are more relaxed this time of year. It’s important to incorporate structured activities into our days or we are more likely to eat out of boredom. Setting aside time for regular exercise is key to staying in shape.
Sweet tea, lemonade and fruit juice are refreshing summer favorites that contain at least as many calories as soda. Instead, we can drink water, or combine equal parts water and 100% fruit juice for added flavor. The drink caveat applies to adult beverages, too, as they can contain 600-800 calories each. To cut calories at happy hour, mix clear liquor with a calorie-free drink. We are more likely to make unwise food choices while enjoying a few rounds of cocktails. Instead of chicken wings and fries or chips, ask for a grilled sandwich and side salad.
The hot dogs, nachos, and pizza typical of carnival fare are high in saturated fats. Instead, choose turkey kabobs or chicken on a stick, sans the funnel cake for dessert. At picnics and pool parties, opt for a burger without cheese and a starchy bun. One tablespoon of barbecue sauce contains as many as 50 calories. A spice rub is a better option. Enjoy the full health benefits of a tasty summer salad by going light on the dressing. Make fruit salads healthier with fresh fruits and plain yogurt instead of marshmallows, heavy whipped cream, and canned fruits swimming in syrup. While it sounds healthy, frozen yogurt may contain more calories than ice cream, so it’s best to eat small portions.
Getting away for a week of fun doesn’t mean taking a vacation from healthy lifestyle choices. Pack healthy treats to avoid the fast-food and vending machine snacks found in hotels and airports. Take advantage of hotel gyms. If one is not available, pack a jump rope or plan a daily walk or run. Take walking tours instead of using taxis or public transit. Plan family excursions that include physical activity. Make sensible choices at the buffet and don’t overdo.
Keeping that swimsuit figure is possible. With a bit of planning and creativity, we can keep extra pounds off and have more energy, too.