It’s no longer true that summer means more exercise and healthier eating. One study found that kids gain weight three times faster over summer than they do the rest of the school year, thanks to a steady diet of junk food and video games. As you try to watch the weight and beat the heat, certain foods can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I’ve sorted them out below, starting with the bad guys.
Watch Out for These
Ice Cream Products: Whether it’s ice cream sandwiches, cones, sundaes or banana splits, you would be surprised at the toxic ingredients in a typical ice cream product, not to mention the calories. Ingredients in a typical hot fudge sundae include corn syrup solids, mono- and diglycerides, dextrose, sodium citrate, artificial vanilla flavor, sodium phosphate, disodium phosphate, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil (trans fat!), potassium sorbate (preservative), artificial flavor, and polyglycerol esters – and this is without whipped cream! If you can’t resist, go for the organic ice cream.
Funnel Cakes: This summer carnival favorite, comprised of deep-fried flour, butter, shortening and sugar, is among the worst sources of trans fat. And that pile of powdered sugar on top is linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.
Corn Dogs: A favorite among kids, this deep-fried snack is extremely high in sodium, and the nitrates used as preservatives are linked to colon cancer.
Mayonnaise: Using it on a sandwich or in a potato salad, mayonnaise may taste good, but be careful – one cup can contain up to 1440 calories!
Snow Cones and Slushies: They may appear light and refreshing, but most are loaded with high fructose corn syrup. A Princeton University study found that rats given high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those given table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
Summer’s Best Foods
These next five foods are perfect for summer. They hydrate, help you lose weight and supply the vitamins and minerals your body needs for warm-weather activity.
Watermelon: Not only is watermelon a summer favorite, it’s 90% water. At just 44 calories a cup, it’s also a better source of lycopene than raw tomatoes. Studies show lycopene may play a role in preventing prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. With lots of vitamin C and A, watermelon also helps boost the immune system.
Green Salads: Lettuce is 95 percent water so it keeps you both cool and hydrated. Add as many fresh fruit and vegetable toppings as you like. Cucumbers – which are 96 percent water – tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries and carrots all provide your body with rich nutrients to keep you healthy. Be sure to make your own dressing using extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sea salt for the ideal summer treat.
Fruit Salads: Summer is peak season for colorful berries and fruit. It’s interesting that fruit eaters tend to weigh less than people who aren’t. Not only are these red, purple and blue fruits potent sources of antioxidants and vitamins, some berries pack up to one-third of your daily fiber needs per serving.
Homemade Popsicles: A refreshing and super-healthy ice cream alternative, homemade popsicles can be fun for kids to make. Use 100% fruit juice or use your blender to mix fresh fruit and water. Don’t be afraid to add spinach!
Grilled Kabobs: Easy to throw on the grill, kabobs can be a great source of protein and vegetables. Add zucchini, bell peppers and squash to your skewer for lots of antioxidants and flavor. Always use hormone-free chicken or grass-fed beef.