Hectic summer schedules can distract even the most dedicated exerciser, while backyard barbeques tempt Americans with high-calorie foods and snacks. Since it’s the time of year to start trading winter wraps for warm-weather clothes, many are trying to slim down for summer and find healthy ways to improve their lifestyles.

According to a recent survey by Wrigley, nearly 85 percent of Americans believe a key to losing weight is to consume fewer calories. Most experts agree that combining physical activity while watching calorie intake is important in the quest for weight management and a healthier lifestyle.

“There is no need for a total diet makeover; taking small steps to enjoy a variety of foods and being more active can go a long way for Americans trying to lose some weight for the summer,” says Molly Gee, registered dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine.

One easy way to control calories is to reduce high-calorie snacks or choose low-calorie alternatives. Chewing gum works well as a low-calorie snack substitute at an average of five to 10 calories a piece, and may be able to help Americans cut some excess calories during the days before summer. In fact, a recent study out of the University of Liverpool, conducted by Dr. Marion Hetherington, shows that chewing gum before snacking can help reduce hunger, diminish cravings for sweets and decrease snack intake by 36 calories.

Gee offers these additional tips to help people manage their weight for the summer months:

• Steer clear of temptation-have conversations far from the picnic table where the food rests;

• Party hearty, not hungry-don’t skip meals-“saving yourself” for parties or barbeques can lead to binging;

• Move more-take advantage of the warm weather by taking walks around the neighborhood or through the park;

• Stay active-fill your days with warm-weather activities that don’t emphasize food, including a trip to the zoo, gardening or window shopping;

• Chews wisely-replace high-calorie snacks with a piece of chewing gum (average of five to 10 calories). Chew gum when preparing meals to avoid nibbling and pack it when you travel to divert attention from high-calorie snacking.