Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian at WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, on a recent vacation in Prague. She enjoys seeing a city on foot. It’s a great way to explore a city and exercise. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

6 ways to avoid weight gain on your summer vacation

Whether you are going to the beach, taking a cruise or sightseeing in San Francisco, summertime vacations offer a chance to vacate your normal routines and stresses of life. Part of the fun of vacation, of course, is eating — whether it’s local cuisine, a basket of fries or a fruity umbrella drink.

What’s not so fun: returning home 5 pounds heavier.

But here’s the good news: You can fully enjoy your vacation and indulge (in moderation) and avoid weight gain on vacations.

Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of CruiseCritic.com, an online cruise resource, also happens to be a fitness enthusiast, so she is always on the lookout for ways to stay active and keep her calorie intake in check while traveling. She turned to her Fitbit to help track her steps while recently on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Harmony of the Seas, and she managed to log at least 6 miles a day.

McDaniel’s top tip: choose your splurges carefully. Ask yourself: Do you want the decadent dessert or a fancy mixed drink? And if you are really looking forward to indulging at dinner or an evening dessert, keep breakfast and lunch light. Another tip from McDaniel: At dinner, skip the bread basket, which can stimulate overeating. Save those calories for something you really want.

Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian at WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, offers the following six tips for avoiding weight gain on a summer vacation.

1. Don’t leave your healthy lifestyle habits at home. Try to avoid the mentality that vacation means all your meals should be unbalanced and full of higher-calorie options. With a little planning and balance, it is possible to include some of your favorite foods while on vacation while not going overboard.

2. Explore a new city on foot. Skip riding in a car or taking public transportation and set a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps throughout the day. During a recent visit to New York City, Smith spent a full day exploring many of her favorite bakeries and restaurants, but only allowing herself to do this if she walked to each place. By the end of the day, she had reached nearly 20,000 steps.

3. Stick to your normal meal schedule. Pack nonperishable snacks like nuts, dried fruit, or protein bars. Eating every three to four hours will help to keep control of your appetite and lessen the possibility of eating higher-calorie and unbalanced meals. Smith always packs a few pieces of fresh fruit and protein bars when she travels.

4. Stay in a location where you have access to a fridge and limit your meals eating out. Most hotels readily have refrigerators or can provide one upon request. Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt, and sliced deli meat for breakfast and lunch. Then, go ahead and allow yourself to eat dinner out.

5. Choose your alcoholic drinks carefully. Some oversized sugar-sweetened alcoholic beverages will have upward of 350-500 calories, which is the amount most people should consume for an entire meal. Consider choosing a white wine spritzer or vodka soda and limit yourself to one or two drinks to keep the calories in check.

6. Split dessert with one or two people. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite dessert; just split it with a few travel companions to reduce the calories and sugar consumed.

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