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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.

Summer Diet Fix continued...

Cole slaw is another staple that sounds like a summer diet food. After all, isn't cabbage one of those "free foods," with so few calories they aren't worth thinking about? True, a cup of raw chopped cabbage has a mere 21 calories and a trace of fat - but then comes the mayo.

Cole slaw, like potato salad, can vary wildly in the amount of fat it contains, says Cathy Nonas, RD, director of the obesity and diabetes program at North General Hospital in New York City. At Chick-Fil-A restaurants, a 4.5-oz. serving of slaw carries 260 calories, with a whopping 21 grams of fat. At Boston Market, the same serving of cole slaw carries a more modest 170 calories with 9 grams of fat.

Advice? Indulge in the mayo-laced salads of summer only occasionally, if you love them. "Have the potato salad," Nonas says, "but understand it isn't a cheap date."

Summer Diet Blunder 2: Festive Drinks

Poolside, or at happy hour, a party drink such as a giant margarita can seem like a fine way to celebrate summer. It's the sociable thing to do, right?

Beware, says Sandon. "That poolside, nice, frosty beverage could become a weight problem that could make you spill over your bikini," she says. A regular-sized margarita has about 170 calories. But that's for one that's barely 3 ounces. The giant margaritas, especially those designed to be shared by two or three people, can spell trouble, Sandon says.

Summer Diet Fix

"If you are going to put in a few laps at the pool, maybe you can have that margarita," Sandon says. "But most people I see at the pool aren't doing a lot of swimming." The rationalization goes like this:  "People think they are sitting in the sun, and so they need fluid," Sandon says. "But alcohol is not a good way to hydrate," she says. It actually dehydrates you. If you want an alcoholic drink, "going with a glass of wine might be a better bet," she says.  A 3.5-oz. glass of wine is about 80 calories. A 12-oz. beer has about 117 calories.

And if it's the festive flair of the drink -- like the umbrellas topping off tropical summer drinks -- you can customize a lower-cal option, Sandon says.  "They might put an umbrella in your beer if you ask them," she says. Other options: ask for lemon-flavored water with club soda for some pizzazz, Sandon says. Or alternate an alcoholic drink with plain water or a non-alcoholic beverage.

Start with a "virgin" drink, Nonas agrees, such as a Virgin Bloody Mary, to reduce calories. It doesn't always work, she concedes. "A margarita doesn't work without the liquor."

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