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5 Summer Diet Blunders

Do your favorite summer treats pack a wallop in fat and calories? Here's how to lighten them up.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

In summertime, the livin' is easy, but so is access to seasonal foods that tempt you off your summer diet. Who can resist a heaping bowl of Aunt Maude's potato salad at the family reunion? Or a chilled margarita, poolside? As your favorite ice cream shop beckons, your summer weight -- and resistance -- may waver.

What harm could a little warm-weather indulgence do?

In moderation, not much, say nutrition experts. But beware: some of the summertime food you might pass off as harmless packs a bigger calorie and fat punch than you might imagine. A little bowl of cole slaw, for instance, packs 21 grams of fat, about a third of most people's daily limit.

If you want to maintain your summer weight -- or at least not waddle into fall -- turn to substitutes or slim down the treat you desire, at least occasionally. Here, nutrition experts tell WebMD how to watch for five summer diet blunders, along with suggestions on how to lighten up.

Summer Diet Blunder 1: Summertime Salads

What's summer - or a picnic - without potato salad? After all, potato is a vegetable, right? Well, yes. But then, there's the mayonnaise, which a lot of potato salads are swimming in, says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. And depending on how heavy-handed the salad maker is with the mayo, the fat can more than cancel out the benefits of eating the vegetable.

"Salads made with mayonnaise are usually loaded with calories," she says. Not to mention grams of fat - often so high that fat accounts for more than half the total calories. It's also difficult to estimate calories and fat in your portion, because recipes vary so much, Sandon says.

Summer Diet Fix

If you're trying to limit your fat to 30% of calories on a 2,000-calorie a day diet -- a typical, healthy goal from the USDA -- your limit would be 65 grams of fat a day. So make those salads yourself. Slash calories and fat by using reduced-fat mayo, Sandon suggests.

For example, homemade potato salad with regular mayo has more than 20 grams of fat and 350 calories per cup. Make it with low-fat mayo and you can cut the calories and fat in half. Lower-fat mayo has about 5 grams of fat per tablespoon, while the regular stuff tops out at 11 grams of fat per tablespoon.

If you buy your potato salad on the go, keep in mind that recipes vary widely at different fast-food restaurants. At Kentucky Fried Chicken, a 4.5-oz. serving has 9 grams of fat and 180 calories. Blimpie's version - a 4.9-oz. serving - has double the fat, at 19 grams of fat and 140 calories.

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