What do you think of when you think of picnics? Fried chicken, mayonnaise-y salads and sandwiches, sweetened lemonade...right? But it doesn't have to be that way. A picnic is simply a meal you eat outdoors. You choose what to bring, and you choose whether to make it healthy or not. So get out your wicker basket, ice up your cooler, pick a great companion, and look for a sunny afternoon. Then follow these five tips from the American Dietetic Association for your healthiest picnic ever:

Start the meal off on the right foot. Little nibbles will whet your appetite for the spread to come. Just make sure your appetizers are good for you. What to bring? Sliced peppers, celery and carrot sticks make perfect dippers—way better than greasy chips. And whole-grain crackers and tiny cheese cubes will tide you over until you're ready to break out the main meal.

Keep it lean. You don't have to forego sandwiches—after all, hand-held food and picnics were made for each other—but skip the fatty tuna and chicken salads and go for sliced turkey or chicken-breast sandwiches and wraps. Add mustard and relish for flavor, and pile high with lettuce, tomatoes and grilled vegetables. Alternatively, hummus in whole-wheat pita bread makes a filling entree.

Pour it on. Hot days call for cool drinks. Along with plenty of water, why not indulge in a little flavored seltzer? A splash of juice in your cup adds taste without too many calories. A small glass of wine is nice, too. What to pass up: Calorie-heavy mixed drinks such as margaritas, sugary sodas.

Don't skip the sweets. What's a picnic without dessert? No fun at all! Just ditch the oversized brownies, blondies and pies and go for a lighter ending such as angel food cake. Cut-up fruit is great, too—make it festive by dicing it and putting it on skewers.

Take a hike. There's no better way to end your meal than with an energetic walk. Or grab a frisbee or softball and toss it around. You can also bring bikes and cycle around the park where you're picnicking. Whatever you do, just get moving. It'll help your digestion and ward off the afternoon sleepies.