10:43 AM

Be Picky at the Picnic

The choices you make will help keep your summer diet on track

Just the smell alone is tough to resist. So, how do you survive the diet-spoiling parade of picnics and barbeques that tempt you all summer long? 

The biggest key, says Nathan Hamman, Manager of Wellness and Weight Management at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center, is planning ahead. That includes taking food with you to a picnic that you know will be better for you than many of the other items on the menu.  

"Have something that will be a safe or healthy food to choose from," says Hamman. "Try to make your plate have fruits and vegetables. So, summertime is the best time to get fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. So, now's the time to eat them, while they're good - especially if you can get stuff that's locally grown."

Hamman summer diet 1

Of course, that grilled meat is really hard to ignore. Hamman advises choosing the chicken or lean beef. He also strongly urges small portions of those dressing-laden salads, like potato, macaroni and cole slaw.  

"If you do things like hamburgers, brats and hot dogs, they have light buns now," says Hamman. "They don't have the calories of like a traditional hamburger or hot dog bun. So, you're cutting down some of your calories that way." 

Hamman summer diet 2

Alcohol can also quickly add to the calorie count, warns Hamman, especially those fruity summer drinks. Choose low-calorie or diet mixes. 

Perhaps it's not the family or neighborhood picnic that has you concerned. It's that long summer road trip and making sure those occasional stops for food are at the right places.    

"Pick the restaurants you might have the best luck with and, again try to stay away from things like the french fries," says Hamman. "Most fast food restaurant have a side salad as an option, a yogurt or fruit. And that would be a better option than getting that high fat, high calorie fried foods."

Hamman summer diet 3

Hamman knows proper dieting can take some of the fun out of summer picnic season, and he understands that you may indulge once or twice. If that happens, he just encourages you to get back on track and don't let the detour spoil the progress you've made in your wellness program.