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Don't take a vacation from eating healthy this summer

Summer vacation is a time to have fun, relax and have a change of pace from your normal lifestyle. Being away from home doesn't mean that you should take a vacation from healthy eating habits and being physically active. Along with all the sight seeing, you also need to plan to eat some healthy food and fit a little physical activity into your day.

When you are not preparing your own food, healthy eating can be a challenge. The National Diabetes Education Program recommends that you take time to review restaurant menus before you order so you can make the healthiest choices. If you will be eating at chain restaurants, you may even be able to check out nutrition information on their Web sites before you leave home so you will know the better options on their menus.

To make healthier choices, know what you will order before you enter the restaurant. Then order first so you will be less influenced by the choices of others. Order small, junior or half-size portions instead of the larger sizes; order a salad and share a main dish.

Choose steamed, grilled or broiled foods over fried or sauteed items. Order sauces, gravies and salad dressing on the side. Then dip your fork into them before picking up a bite of food. Choose fruit for dessert or frozen yogurt. Fruit is also easy to have for snacks in your car or hotel room.

Enjoy a higher calorie dessert occasionally, but share if possible. Drink water or skim or low fat milk instead of sugary drinks. Because of the high sugar content, limit 100 percent fruit juice to only 4-6 oz. per day.

Keep alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day or less. Have 5 oz. of wine or a 12-oz. light beer. Avoid mixed drinks made with sugary soda or fruit juice. Drink tea or coffee either unsweetened or with sugar substitute. Skip the fancy coffee and tea drinks that can have lots of added fat and sugar.

Each day on the road, pack a cooler if possible with fresh fruit, raw vegetables and light yogurt for snacking. Also add some bottled water. Even if you cannot carry a cooler, pack some small packages of nuts or seeds and dried fruits to eat. Again the key word is small. These are calorie dense so keep portions to 1/4 cup or less per serving.

While driving, stop at least every two hours to walk around in the towns you pass through or at parks along the way. You will see a lot more and be less stressed and tired at the end of the day. When you arrive, swim, canoe, take long walks, ride bikes and dance in the evening. Even playing games like tennis or beach volleyball. Do something for at least 30 minutes a day. Just walking to the restaurant instead of driving will burn calories.

You want to come back from your vacation feeling great, not guilty! Your vacation may even be the start of a new way of life if you have not been as careful about food and physical activity previously because you were either too stressed or too busy.

Web posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007

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