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Summer Can Mean Unhealthy Food and Drinks

Americans tend to drink more on vacation and while grilling outdoors. (V.Carter)
Americans tend to drink more on vacation and while grilling outdoors. (V.Carter)
July 5, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — There's still a lot more summer to go, and health experts have some tips for those who are going to spend time away from home: Don't stray too far away from healthy eating habits you may have developed.

Nutritionist Courtney McCormick with Nurtisystem said the majority of people who go on vacation gain weight by eating things we wouldn't normally eat, and drinking more alcohol.

"People who normally had about eight drinks a week actually doubled that when they were on vacation and had up to 16 alcoholic drinks,” McCormick said. "The reason that's kind of alarming is our bodies don't really recognize those liquid calories."

The average American gains seven tenths of a pound while on vacation, according to a 2016 study. And even if you don't travel far during the summer months, Obesity Research found adults eat 118 more calories a day on weekend days than they do during the week. Over the course of a year, that adds about 18,000 extra calories - about 5 pounds.

McCormick said if you can't plan ahead and take your own snacks for traveling, the good news is there are more healthy options being offered.

"When you go through that drive-through, do they offer a salad instead of a burger and fries? Thinking about when you're at the airport, could you get some trail mix or fresh fruit at the vendor instead of that candy bar that we may want to have,” she said.

Vacation often means throwing caution to the wind, but McCormick suggests keeping it to a minimum.

"So I encourage people to think about if you're going to kind of splurge, are you splurging on something that you maybe couldn't get at home?” she prompted. "If I'm in New Orleans, I'm probably going to order some jambalaya or gumbo. I'm probably not going to splurge on some Lasagna because I could get that at home."

If your summer plans include going to a lot of barbecues, McCormick suggests planning ahead. Don't show up super hungry, stick to grilled veggies and lean meat, and try watermelon for dessert instead of ice cream or cake.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD