Originally Published: June 11, 2011 10 p.m.
I know, you've heard it a million times: Fad diets don't work - if you want to lose weight, you have to eat healthy. Take in fewer calories than you burn and you'll drop the pounds.
You've heard it before because it is true. Luckily, summer is the perfect time to start eating right.
What's the easiest way to take advantage of the season? Registered dietician Vicki Elliott at Yavapai Regional Medical Center said, "Savor the flavor of seasonal fruits and vegetables at farmer's markets." It's tough to find a high-calorie fruit or veggie, and produce comes with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber - things you're probably taking supplements to get. "And it's an activity for the whole family," she said.
"Eat more vegetables," she said. "They are nutrient-dense. Something calorically dense like a donut or a burger or fried foods has additional calories and lower nutrients."
Start with watermelon: It's sweet and it is literally half water. That's hydration and weight loss all in one.
If you've never tried a chilled soup, this summer is the time to give it a shot. Gazpacho or cucumber-dill soups have a lot of chunky vegetables in them, and if you eat soup before a meal, you'll eat less of the heavy stuff afterwards.
Try grilling vegetables. If you haven't done much of it, you'll be surprised. The key, of course, is to keep the veggies ready to go; have grilled onions, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, asparagus and garlic standing by.
You can make grilled vegetable salads, pitas, and pasta with these staples.
Always a summer favorite: salads. Lettuce alone does not a salad make, though. Add low-fat cheese, fruits, veggies, toasted nuts (I like pine nuts), and a light raspberry or ginger vinaigrette dressing.
Don't go overboard on the dressing, by the way, and try to avoid the usual ranch or French - they are heavy and full of fat and calories. If you add meats to your salad, treat them as accessories.
If you're thinking light for summer, you need to consider your beverage of choice. Don't blow the advantages of light foods by drinking a beer, even if it's a holiday weekend. Sweet tea and sodas are equally bad.
Here, from WebMD, are a few ideas:
Root beer or orange dream float - 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt in 12 ounces of diet root beer or orange soda (100 calories).
Tart lemon pom spritzer - 12 ounces of lemon sparkling water mixed with the juice of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, served over ice (35 calories).
Large ice skim latte from Starbucks (130 calories).
White wine spritzer - 5 ounces white wine mixed with 3 ounces lemon/lime seltzer water (120 calories)
You'll no doubt want to grill this summer. When you do, pick lean meats for the grill, such as skinless poultry over a hamburger (180 calories versus 304 calories in a 4-ounce serving).
But remember, "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables," Elliott said.
Fish is great on the grill and always better for you than red meat. All you need to do when it comes to seasoning for the grill is brush with olive oil, then add sea salt and black pepper.
When you go to the fair, get corn-on-the-cob, not fried foods such as funnel cakes. And at picnics, grabbing veggies instead of potato salad will save you more than 300 calories per serving.