Summer is the easiest time to improve your diet.
It's too hot to cook, so this is a great time to cut back on fried foods.
And with local produce spilling from roadside stands, it's the perfect time to cut down on meats, sweets and salty snacks, and fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
A 1/4 -pound hamburger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo will cost you about 500 calories and contains 30 grams of greasy fat. If you split your burger with a buddy, you could eliminate half the fat, and have 2 1/2 cups of watermelon, five luscious local peaches or 3/4 of a cantaloupe for the other 250 calories.
Or you could trade 10 salty chips for 25 sweet dark cherries.
The benefits of fresh fruit, whether local or imported, are enormous.
Besides being delicious, fragrant and refreshing, all are fat-free and naturally low in sodium. They are potassium-rich and fruit-juicy, to replace elements lost in sweat. Their fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene help reduce cancer risks while promoting better vowel function and overall good health. What a treat!
At your next cookout, do a friend a favor and share your burger, then enjoy some of these 250 calorie bargains.
* 3 Granny Smith apples, high in fiber and cholesterol-lowering pectin.
*3 cups of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or boysenberries, high in fiber.
*2 1/2 cups seedless grapes, a good source of fluid, fiber, pectin and iron.
*An entire honeydew melon, high in fluid and a good source of vitamin C.
*5 kiwi fruits, a good source of fiber, and each provides more than a full day's supply of vitamin C.
*2 mangoes, each outstanding in vitamin C and beta carotene.
*3 nectarines, a good source of beta carotene.
*2 papayas, high in vitamin C and beta carotene.
*3 cups of fresh pineapple, high in fiber, fluid and some vitamin C.
*5 big black plums, a good source of fiber, fluid and pectin.
*5 cups of strawberries, a good source of fiber and very high in vitamin C.
*5 huge Maryland tomatoes, a good source of fiber, fluid, vitamin C, beta carotene and taste unmatched in the United States.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.