4 Ways to Actually Stick to Your Diet This Summer

4 Ways to Actually Stick to Your Diet This Summer

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By Jordan Lawson

Summer is here at last—and with it comes a full calendar of events, many of which center around food. If you want to stay svelte for swimsuit season, we can help you make smart choices and still enjoy yourself. “Whenever you’re at a party where there is a lot of food, always do a walkthrough,” says psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD. “Maybe you eat that famous mac and cheese but you forego the burger,” she says.

Charting a smart course on the buffet table isn’t all you can do. Try our tips to keep your weight in check at all of your summer gatherings, family reunions and pool parties. 

Family Reunions

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Seeing relatives for the first time in years? Don’t feel like you have to eat every bite of the dish they want you to try. “If these are people you don’t see very often and you don’t want to hurt feelings, go ahead and take food,” says Durvasula, “[But] taking Uncle John’s ribs doesn’t mean taking six of them.” Keep in mind that a family gathering isn’t really the time to make a stand for your diet. “Get along with other people using your own form of portion control,” says Durvasula. “Cut a portion they give you into pieces you can share or eat later.” If you’re nervous about disappointing anyone, go ahead and fill a plate with healthy choices, so you can’t accept any more food.

Kids’ Birthday Parties

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Beyond the balloons and presents a birthday party sits your food foe—birthday cake—and it’s stressing you out. But it doesn’t have to. “There’s no reason you can’t share your piece [of cake] or eat your favorite part,” says Durvasula. Like the icing? Eat that part slowly and really savor it instead of finishing it and going back for more.

Want a healthier chocolate cake for your next party? Try this recipe.

Pool Parties

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Summer pool parties aren’t just about the kids and grandkids—there are often adult beverages, too, which can be deceptively high in calories. Two Coronas have about 296 calories, or roughly the same number of calories in three and a half wedges of watermelon. Going the cocktail route? One margarita can have 153 calories, which is about the same number of calories in three cups (5.9 ounces) of strawberry slices. So, what can you sip on without blowing your diet? “A vodka soda is one of the lowest calorie drinks out there,” she says. Check out these other low-cal cocktails.


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Barbecues, especially around the Fourth of July, are summer’s Thanksgiving. Huge spreads of grilled hamburgers, macaroni salad, desserts and more are tempting, but should you give in? “It’s all about balance,” says Durvasula, “so if you’re going to go with the big meaty burger, then watch your sides.” Another food you should watch out for? That hamburger bun. Skip it to save about 120 calories.

Don’t be too stringent with your food rules: Summer fun is supposed to be just that. “What you don’t want to do is make all these rules and take the pleasure out of life and the pleasure out of summer,” Durvasula says. “I think in its own way that helps you be more mindful.”