“If summer is such a great time to lose weight, why did I gain 10 pounds?”
I get this question all the time and often the person asking it has an answer.
“It’s because all my favorite summer foods are so fattening.”
Then I say my standard line about fattening foods.
“Food isn’t fattening. We gain weight because of a complicated set of choices we make. If we’re not paying attention to what and how much we are eating we will consume too many calories. If we are inactive all of those calories don’t get burned. That’s what’s fattening.”
Our environment influences these choices unconsciously. Some of us are more sensitive to our environmental cues. If you happen to be one of those people and you’re goal is to manage your weight, you’ll need strategies to enjoy summer and summertime food favorites while losing or maintaining your weight.
Here is a list of the summer foods that are most likely to give us trouble:
1. Fatty meats cooked on the grill
There is something about firing up the grill that fires up the appetite too. Big, thick, juicy steaks marbled throughout with fat are a summertime favorite. Calories from a 4oz serving won’t be too hard to fit into our weight loss plan. The problem is the portions.The bigger the portion, the more the calories.
Barbecue ribs are another example of too much meat and fat, plus the sauces add a lot of calories too.
Chicken is generally considered to be a better choice than beef or pork, but don’t fool yourself, if it’s got the skin and it’s covered in barbecue sauce, there isn’t a significant decrease in fat to lower the calories.
And eating great tasting food outdoors with a hearty chef who wants everybody to have a good time, just might serve and encourage you to eat more than you really wanted or certainly needed.
Grilled meats, whatever the chef is cooking, is okay but keep in mind that a serving is about the size of the palm of your hand and sauces are better on the side than slathered all over.
2. Mayonnaise Salads
It’s common to serve up big bowls of potato salad and macaroni salad at barbecues. Potatoes and macaroni aren’t so much the problem as the generous amounts of mayonnaise used to make these salads creamy and delicious.
And it’s easy for servings to be big because it tastes good and your host made a lot and is encouraging you to “eat up.” A half cup serving is doable. That’s enough to have a taste but a small enough serving to keep the calories under control. It would be about as much as would fit into the top of an aerosol spray can.
3. Chips and Dips
What’s a summer cookout without some chips and dips. Again we’re dealing with food with a lot of fat. Considering every gram of fat has 9 calories (compared to protein and carbs which only have 4 calories per gram) it’s easy to consume a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
Chips and dips can be particularly hard to manage because we don’t put a portion on our plate; we just eat from the serving bowl. This is a dangerous way to eat for those of us who must monitor our food to keep our weight under control. It’s easy to eat more than we realized.
Put a few chips on your plate and a dollop of dip and move away from the table!
4. Frozen Alcoholic Beverages
If you’re of age to drink alcohol then you might know how frozen, fruity or creamy drinks make the party. These things go down easier than soda pop and they pack a lot more calories.
Besides the calories, these drinks can raise your feelings of well-being. In other words “everything is just fine – no worries here.” So just like alcohol has been known to erase inhibitions that later lead to regrettable actions in other areas of human behavior, that holds true with eating too much too.
So what do you do? Do you refuse every barbecue invitation you get so that you don’t gain weight over the summer? Absolutely not.
Barbecues are part of summer fun and weight management doesn’t have to ruin your fun. It can enhance it. You’ll feel better and you’ll like how you look by sticking to your program. That supports your weight-related goals and helps you to do it without depriving yourself. You don’t have to give up summer food favorites or schlep your own “diet foods” to the parties. You can eat what everybody else is having just by paying attention to balance and moderation.
Balance and moderation, by the way, can be achieved over the course of several days which I strongly recommend because it’s a balanced and moderate approach to balance and moderation.
It’s a matter of being picky. You won’t want to indulge at every summer gathering that includes food, especially if there’s a lot of them in your lifestyle. Be conservative most of the time and save the splurges for the really special occasions when the food is the most delicious.
You can also reduce the calories in a lot of your favorite summer meals and boost flavor at the same time. If you have some great reduced-calorie recipes why not make a dish to share when you go to a party?
Don’t rely on willpower to stop you from indulging in your summertime food fun. Find strength and success in wantpower! No foods have to be fattening, you have the ability to enjoy favorite foods and manage your weight.