Summertime: the season of lazy beach days, blockbuster movies, and diet traps. From fairs to beach side bars, we’re constantly barraged with waistline wreckers that pack unhealthy amounts of calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging now and then, it’s important to be calorie and nutrient conscious so you can make the best choices when faced with temptation.
Margarita or piña colada? Summertime picnics, ballgames, and barbecues are loaded with major diet and calorie traps — but the worst pick isn't always as obvious you think:
In The Cooler
<em>Which is the healthier thirst quencher? </em><br>A) Sweet iced tea<br>B) Lemonade
Trick question! Both of these beverages contain the same number of calories (about 260 to 280 per serving). That's a lot to consume through a straw! Wouldn't you rather use those calories on something else? With zero calories, water and unsweetened iced tea are better thirst quenchers. If you're really craving a sweet, cool drink, grab a juice-box sized lemonade for half the calories
At The Fair
<em>Which is the healthier sweet treat?</em><br>A) Cotton candy<br>B) Chocolate-covered frozen banana
Answer: Chocolate Covered Bananas
Sugary cotton candy has fewer calories than the banana (220 calories for a 2-ounce serving versus 240 calories in the banana), but the banana provides more nutrients: about 540 mg potassium (almost 12 per cent of the recommended daily value) and 4 grams of fiber.
At The Picnic
<em>Which is the healthier picnic pitfall?</em> <br>A) Potato salad <br>B) Pasta salad
Answer: Pasta Salad
Each of these carb-rich sides has about the same number of calories (360) and fat (about 20 grams) in a one-cup serving, but the potato salad has a whopping 1,323 mg of sodium, or half of what you should eat all day, compared to the pasta salad's 924 mg. Make your pasta salad even healthier by using whole wheat noodles for more fiber. Or skip the grains altogether and make a veggie-only side that combines cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes drizzled with low-fat vinaigrette.
At The Stadium
<em>Which is the healthier stadium saboteur?</em><br>A) Hot dog<br>B) Nachos
Answer: Hot Dogs
While neither of these are nutritional home runs, the hot dog has less than half the calories of nachos (about 400 compared to 1,100). Still, the typical frankfurter is already loaded with sodium (1,000 mg) and fat (22 g), so skip chili and cheese toppings to keep this choice under control. An even healthier order: Grab a bag of peanuts and split them among your team. An ounce has just 160 calories and plenty of heart-healthy unsaturated fat -- and shelling them makes them take longer to eat, so you're less likely to wolf them down.
The Dessert Table
<em>Which is the healthier sweet-tooth terror?</em><br>A) Pecan pie<br>B) Vanilla milkshake
Answer: Pecan Pie
While this sweet dessert is notoriously high in calories and fat, it's actually the better choice compared to a seemingly innocent creamy milkshake. One slice of pecan pie has about 500 calories, but a typical large frothy vanilla shake clocks in at almost 1,300 calories. The most waistline-friendly option: Top a scoop of fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt with a half-ounce of chopped pecans for 190 calories and heart-healthy unsaturated fat from the nuts. And if you're craving pie, pick a fruit-filled slice, which usually contains 200-300 calories.
For The Ice Cream Lovers
<em>Which is the healthier cool snack?</em><br>A) Ice cream sandwich<br>B) Ice cream sundae cone
Answer: Ice Cream Sandwich
You may think the carbs in the sandwich's cookie would pack on pounds, but it's actually the slimmer choice. A Klondike sandwich has 180 calories and 4 grams of fat, far less than the 240 calories and 12 grams of fat in a Good Humour Ice Cream Sundae Cone. Your best bet, however, is a simple Fudgsicle, which contains a skimpy 100 calories and 2 grams of fat.
At the Poolside Bar
<em>Which is the healthier frozen cocktail? </em><br>A) Margarita<br>B) Piña colada
Here's a chilly reality check: Both frozen drinks deliver more calories than four Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (about 540 for the margarita and 430 for the piña colada). But while the margarita does have more calories, the creamy coconut drink has double the sugar and 5 g of fat (margaritas are fat-free). If you're really watching your waistline, order a wine spritzer or a gin or vodka mixed with club soda. Each has about 100 calories per 8 ounces.
At The BBQ
<em>Which is the healthier hot-off-the-grill option? </em><br>A) Veggie burger <br>B) Turkey burger
Answer: Turkey Burger
You'd think the veggie patty would be healthier, but frozen versions can be laced with sodium. A 4-ounce veggie burger has about 210 calories and 640 mg of sodium versus a quarter-pound lean turkey burger's 170 calories and 80 mg sodium. For an even healthier option, skip the bun and make a burger bowl by serving a turkey burger over a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and other veggies of your choosing. You'll save 120 calories, plus get a boost of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants from the salad.