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Wellness Wednesday

Tips for a Lighter Cookout

Since I’ve started consistently tracking my food, I’m constantly amazed by how quickly calories can add up, particularly in social situations. Take your average cookout, for example. One 4-ounce cheeseburger with a bun can be around 500 calories. Add dessert, a beer or cocktail, and a few handfuls of chips while chatting with friends and you’re easily over 1,000 calories! Before heading to your next cookout, plan ahead and choose mindfully with these tips.

  • If you plan to enjoy treats like brownies or potato chips, skip the bun for your burger. A hamburger bun generally has 120-150 calories.
  • Fill your plate with veggies and fruit first. Fresh watermelon on a bed of greens makes for a healthy and colorful start.
  • Portion size matters: 1 cup of mayonnaise-based potato salad has more than 350 calories. Aim for ½ cup, which is about the same size as ½ of an apple.
  • Try grilling pineapple, peaches or even watermelon as a sweet and tasty treat.
  • Kick back and chill out with chilled summer soups. The June/July issue of TOPS News magazine will keep you cool with recipes for melon soup and green gazpacho.
  • If you’re going to have a beer or cocktail, keep in mind that alcohol affects metabolism and may cause you to burn calories more slowly. Opt for unsweetened iced tea or water with cucumber slices and basil instead.
  • Keeping in mind that many people tend to eat a little more during special gatherings, plan to balance your calories for the rest of the day (by eating a lighter breakfast, for instance).

Do you have any tips for making healthy choices at a cookout? Share them in the comments section below!

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