Summer. For the dieter, it is the best of times... and it is the worst of times.
So, what do you want first - the good news or the bad news?
The bad news is you need to be fearful of these five summer treats (and a bonus) that are just waiting to melt your weight loss resolve.
Don't despair: We follow up with a six-pack of the best summer treats for the health-minded dieter.
Bad to the Bone
Summer is grillin' season and backyard barbecues. Barbecue means meat... and lots of it. A 20-ounce T-bone can wreck your day with 1,540 calories and 124 grams of fat! Crave a cheeseburger? Add in another 750 calories and 45 grams of fat. Then there's those yummy pork or beef ribs that come from the fattiest part of the pig or cow.
Frank Talk about Fat
What's a ballgame or backyard barbecue without a hot dog or sausages? Many brands are high in fat and calories. But even if you try to choose wisely and go for the lower-fat varieties you can get whacked with a lot of extra salt. Hot dogs, bratwursts and sausages are soaked in sodium.
The Other Salads
Think salad and you can't help but think healthy. Potato, egg and macaroni salads are anything but! A half-cup of typical potato salad has 180 calories and 12 grams of fat; the same amount of coleslaw has about 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. To cut calories, try light mayo or mix mayo with low-fat yogurt, light sour cream, or chicken stock.
Hard to Swallow
What's a festive summer fiesta without fancy umbrella-topped drinks? A good thing! Sweet 'n fruity alcoholic drinks go down easy while the calories add up fast! A piña colada can range from 245-490 calories, a daiquiri from 300-800 calories, and a Long Island iced tea can set you back 520 calories or more -- with much of it from sugar.
I Scream for Ice Cream
If you want to watch your summertime calorie intake, our best advice is to give premium ice cream the cold shoulder. A cup of soft-serve ice cream can have 380 calories and 22 grams of fat. Opt for a tempting ice cream and candy concoction like a Blizzard or McFlurry and the calories can soar upwards to the 1,000 mark!
BONUS: Chicken Out
Sorry Colonel, but your famous fried chicken has kicked the bucket for the serious dieter. We're far better off to forgo fried and enjoy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill. A 3.5 oz. skinless chicken breast has only 167 calories and 7 grams of fat, compared to a KFC fried chicken breast and its 360 calories and 21 grams of fat.
Quick... before we start yearning for cold weather let's turn our attention to the best food picks of summer!
Chill Out with Soup!
Filling chilled soups like gazpacho or cucumber-dill contain lots of chunky vegetables and are low in fat and calories. They're a great way to start a meal.
A Slice of Heaven
Dive into a slice of crisp, juicy watermelon. Half of the watermelon comes from water so it's a wonderful way to satisfy thirst and a craving for sweets at the same time.
Keep a plate of grilled onions, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, asparagus and garlic in your fridge. They're a great low-cal, low-fat addition to almost any recipe!
Veggie-based salads are the way to go for filling up without filling out! Slice and dice then add fruits, low-fat cheese, toasted nuts and a light vinaigrette. Mmmmmm.
Make it water, water everywhere... and all the time! Need flavor? Squeeze in a little lemon or lime or opt for the occasional sugar-free tea or diet soda.
BONUS: Sweet Dreams!
Opt for naturally sweet treats that can tame the most ferocious sweet tooth. A few yummy ideas: Frozen dark sweet cherries, frozen grapes, or a chocolate-covered frozen banana.