Category Archives: Nutrition and Fitness Tips

Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Summer HarvestMarch is National Nutrition Month. It’s a time to re-assess our eating habits and re-focus our attention on nutrition. Are you living a healthy, energetic and fulfilling lifestyle? Spring forward and start today!

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Here are some bite-size changes to get you started towards a healthier you.

Make Water Your Drink of Choice

What you drink is as important as what you eat. Many drinks have added sugars and little to no nutrients. Your body needs pure water to hydrate cells, so you feel healthy and energetic. Your brain alone uses two cups of water a day! Try aiming for 32 ounces of water daily, plus an additional 32 oz of water or other beverages. If you drink sugary juices or soda each day, start by replacing one of these with a glass of water and try this for a few weeks. Once you’ve made this switch, try swopping out another serving, replacing it with water. Add a slice of lemon, lime or orange to make it more flavorful. You’ll find kicking this habit is easier than you think.

Try New Foods

It’s an exciting time to explore healthy and delicious foods you might not already know. The Internet and social media have made so many great recipes available at our fingertips. Vow to try a new fruit, vegetable or whole grain each week. Pick out a different variety of apple, a different kind of leafy green, a new color of bell pepper and a new “ancient grain” (popular are amaranth, kamut and millet). And in the kitchen, you can even refresh your go-to dishes by using new cooking techniques. Try grilling instead of baking or sautéing instead of frying. Bring new life into mildly flavored foods with a pinch of different herbs and spices or the new “smoked” seasonings like smoked paprika and smoked pepper. 

Go Low on Sugar

The U.S. Nutrition Advisory Panel’s recently released recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines made one thing loud and clear – Americans need to reduce sugar intake. And that’s not just the extra spoonful of sugar you put in your coffee or cereal. It’s important to be aware of the amounts of “hidden” sugar you eat each day that are added to foods and drinks by manufacturers. The FDA and American Heart Association recommend cutting down sugar intake to less than 10 percent of your daily calories, meaning 150-200 sugar calories a day. A 12-oz soda has 150 calories of sugar alone. By limiting added sugars in drinks and sweets, avoiding excessive snacking of processed foods (typically high in added sugar) and reading food labels carefully, you can make better and more informed choices on your sugar consumption.1

Eat More Fiber

Research has found eating a fiber-rich diet can lead to reducing your risk of chronic health diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. Studies have also shown that consuming fiber-rich foods can boost weight loss by helping you feel fuller after you eat. The reality is most Americans aren’t consuming nearly enough fiber. In fact, nutrition guidelines recommend 25 to 38 grams per day, but the average American only consumes only about 10-14 grams. Simple ways to boost your fiber intake? Try eating more fruits and vegetables (including their fiber-rich skins and peels) and add more beans, peas and lentils to your diet. Get creative and add beans to salads, soups, rice, chili, tacos, side dishes, and snacks (think edamame pods and hummus). Be sure to compare nutrition labels to discover more fiber-rich food choices to up your fiber intake.2

Connect with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Registered dietitian nutritionists are experts in developing a personalized nutrition plan for you. RDNs help you translate nutritional science into ideas and tips you can use to keep you on track to a healthier life. By consulting with an RDN you can learn to “eat healthy”, dispel food and diet myths, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, feel better and reduce your lifetime risk of chronic disease that impacts your heart, cancer, muscle and bones. To find an RDN near year, go to www.scandpg.org or www.eatright.org , click on “find a dietitian”, and insert your zip code. Remember, all RDN’s are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are RDN’s. RDN’s have met all the national educational, traineeship, and continuing education requirements by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to safely practice nutritional guidance with expert advice you can trust.

1 Source: Health.gov, 2 Source: Annals.org

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the websites or any association with their operators.                                                        

 

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Falling for Apples

Apples

Fresh and cooked apples, apple butter and apple pie are favorites this time of year. The good news: apples are as healthy for you as they are delicious.

An apple a day does keep the doctor away. In fact, this everyday fruit is packed full of key nutrients, including fiber, potassium, folic acid, Vitamin C, flavonoids and disease-fighting antioxidants. Research shows that the phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer1, hypertension2, diabetes3 and heart disease4. An apple peel ingredient slows down cancer cell growth while quercetin reduces blood pressure, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation and heart disease. As an added bonus, the quercetin in apples also has antihistamine properties that may help reduce allergy symptoms4. The slow-digesting pectin fiber in apples also helps with blood sugar control and the high boron content supports strong bones and a healthy brain5.

Apples are also a good source of vitamin C. In a medium-size apple you will find about 10 percent of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to our health. It helps repair collagen and tissue, maintains bone health and provides antioxidants to lower your risk of acquiring chronic diseases.

 With less than 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber in a medium-size apple, apples make a low-calorie, healthy, crunchy and portable snack. Apples can be incorporated into many recipes and used as a healthy baking substitute, too. This fall, here are some delicious ways to enjoy apples and eat an apple a day:

  • Add sliced apples to your oatmeal at breakfast time.
  • Use chopped apples to add color and crunch to salads, coleslaw, and tuna salad.
  • When baking desserts or holiday treats, swap in applesauce as a healthier baking alternative to oils, butter and eggs. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter or oil, swap in 1/2 cup of applesauce. For eggs, swap in 1/4 cup of applesauce per egg.
  • Enjoy honey-crisp apple slices topped with peanut butter.
  • Try replacing jam or jelly on a peanut butter sandwich with apple slices dipped in orange or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Pair cheese with apples for a healthy snack.
  • Cook apples in a little sugar or stevia and cinnamon for a sweet treat, side dish or oatmeal topping.
  • Use apple butter in place of jam on toast as it contains no butter, just cooked apples that soften and thicken like butter.
  • Zap an apple in the microwave with cinnamon and stevia in the cored out center, as a sweet dessert.
  • Have applesauce as a snack.
  • Add apple chunks to stews, roasts, chicken or turkey dishes, spaghetti or tomato sauces, to add flavor and a natural sweetener.
  • Puree a cooked apple and add to a soup to thicken it (e.g. butternut squash soup).

You can even let apples help you with weight control. To avoid overeating, try eating an apple before a large meal. It is filling, curbs your appetite and satisfies a sweet tooth. Crunching and chewing an apple even reduces your day’s stress level.

Enjoy an apple today, sweet or tart, and add to your health!

For more ideas on how to feel satisfied and not overeat, as well as how to enjoy a healthy diet and succeed with weight loss, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

 1 Nutrition and Cancer. http://bit.ly/1uXsRr6

2 The Journal of Nutrition. http://bit.ly/1uUGAya

3 British Medical Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5001

4 British Medical Journal. http://bit.ly/1gFBONG

5 Journal of Investigational Allergology. http://1.usa.gov/1swOyaO

6 Environmental Health Perspectives. http://1.usa.gov/1tzLbPF

 

Unearthing the Hype Behind Greek Yogurt

Chobani Greek YogurtYogurt has long been celebrated as a healthy snack and nutritious breakfast item, but in recent years it’s Greek yogurt that is making nutrition headlines. So what’s behind this supposed “super” yogurt and is it worth all the hype? Let’s take a deeper dive.

What Makes It Greek

Yogurt is made from adding healthy bacteria to milk, which then causes the milk to ferment. As the milk ferments, it becomes thicker and yogurt forms. The yogurt is then strained using a cheesecloth to remove the milky liquid (known as whey) and drained. For regular yogurt, the straining process is done twice, but for Greek yogurt straining is done three times, removing more liquid and creating a thicker consistency.

Health Benefits

Greek yogurt has a wide range of health benefits. The process of removing more liquid to make the yogurt results in a healthier yogurt with more concentrated protein and calcium and no added sugar. In fact, a six-ounce serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt can contain between 15 to 20 grams of protein, nearly two times what you see in regular yogurt. An eight-ounce serving (about one cup) contains 23 grams of protein.

Yogurt’s high calcium content is also a big bonus for yogurt fans. Helping you build strong bones, one six-ounce serving of yogurt provides around 20 percent of daily-recommended values and an eight-ounce serving contains up to 30 percent, nearly the same amount of calcium you find in a glass of milk.1

In addition to its rich protein and calcium content, Greek yogurt also helps keep your intestinal tract healthy. The probiotics in the yogurt improve digestion and promote the good bacteria that fight off harmful bacteria.1

Baking and Cooking Substitute

Want to indulge in creamy dips and sweets without all the guilt and fat? Greek yogurt to the rescue! Greek yogurt, with its thick, creamy consistency, is a wonderful cooking and baking substitute. When recipes call for Greek yogurt’s high-fat look alikes, sour cream or mayonnaise, you can go Greek to reduce the fat and not sacrifice taste.

Following are some quick tips for cooking with Greek yogurt.

  • When baking, consider using yogurt instead of eggs, oil or sour cream.
  • For chicken or tuna salad, potato salad or coleslaw, use Greek yogurt to replace all or half of the mayonnaise.
  • For a tasty and healthy marinade for chicken or fish, combine yogurt with your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Add dill to plain yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and use as a sauce over salmon or chicken.
  • For brunch entertaining, forgo coffee cake and donuts and satisfy sweet cravings with a Greek yogurt and berry parfait.
  • Add Greek yogurt into your next smoothie to up your protein content.
  • Add half Greek yogurt to any dip, including guacamole or hummus, to half the calories and fat and double the protein and calcium.
  • §  Consider stirring in Greek yogurt to oatmeal or mashed potatoes and top potatoes and chili with a dollop.

Smart Shopping

Though Greek yogurt receives widespread praise among the nutrition community, it’s important to read nutrition labels and be mindful of your choices. Look for yogurt with low sugar (no sugar-added) and low in carbs and high protein content per serving. Choose a yogurt made with just milk and cultures and no additives. Avoid yogurt with added sugary fruit and opt for plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. If you find it’s a bit tart for your liking, try adding in some fresh or frozen berries, cooked fruit or honey for a natural sweet kick.

Check out Chobani.com for more yogurt recipes and inspiration.

For more ideas on healthy eating, healthy snacks and ways to reduce sugar and fat, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com. Contact me for nutrition coaching by phone to set up an in-person consultation.

 This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.  

Sources:

1. National Yogurt Association, AboutYogurt.com

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Tune Up Your Metabolism

WeightsRevamping your metabolism is more than just about exercise. Research suggests what and when you eat and how and when you exercise can play a role, too.

Here are some simple steps to take to rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight.

Don’t Forgo Your Morning Meal

You know the age-old saying: “Breakfast is the most important part of the day.” And well, it’s true. Research shows that breakfast plays an important role in jump-starting your metabolism. A healthy breakfast of fruit, yogurt and wholewheat toast or cereal is a great and healthy way to signal to your body that it’s time to start working. When you skip out on breakfast it’s often counter-productive as your body remains in rest mode and you may end up hungry and eating more throughout the day.

Add a Little Protein

Did you know eating protein can help crank up your metabolism? To step your metabolism up, try upping the amount of lean protein at breakfast and lunch and decreasing the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates and fats in your diet. Your body will work harder to break down and digest proteins, increasing your metabolic rate1. How much an increase? It is not clear. But even a slight increase adds up, day after day.

So how much protein do you need at breakfast and lunch? Studies indicate 25-30 grams boost calorie-burning, satiety and muscle growth. Here are some suggestions: 1 cup Greek yogurt = 23 g protein; 1 egg or egg white + 1 cup milk + toast + peanut butter = 25 g protein; 3 oz chicken = 28 g protein.

As an added bonus, studies show those who eat more protein at each meal typically feel fuller and are more likely to eat fewer calories daily2. Great protein sources include fish, lean red meat, chicken breast, turkey, nonfat Greek yogurt, eggs and egg whites, beans and lentils.

Spice it Up

Turning up the spice on your food has been found to speed up metabolic rates, according to recent studies. Spicy foods help to generate heat and raise body temperatures when consumed. The heat source can be attributed to capsaicin and is found in a wide variety of peppers and spices, including jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne and most other chili peppers. While how much spices increase metabolic rates is debatable, spices also can be responsible for suppressing your appetite and making you feel fuller….thereby boosting weight loss.

Drink More Water

Sipping water throughout the day is a quick and easy way to speed up your digestive tract, burn more calories and eat less. Research suggests your body’s ability to burn calories relies heavily on having enough water to work effectively. When you drink more water ( 2 liters daily), there is actually an increase in the efficiency of your cells, speeding up metabolic rates. Water also helps you feel full, cutting appetite.

True thirst disguises itself as hunger. Drink water first. Hunger may disappear. Try drinking a glass or two of water before and after each meal.

Pump Iron

The more muscle you have the higher your resting metabolic rate. This means that even when you are sitting, you are actually burning more calories than those with more body fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. Toning up your body and increasing the amount of muscle mass through exercises such as weight lifting, Pilates, yoga, bands, can help give your body a big metabolic boost.

Pump the Heart and Lungs

Aerobic activity, including fast walking, biking, jogging, swimming and tennis, for 40 minutes or more boosts your calorie burn for the moment and several hours later. High intensity interval training – alternating fast and slower-paced activity every 1-2 minutes – for 40 minutes has been shown to speed up weight loss and fat loss.

Use any or all of these ideas, to help keep your weight in check.

For more ideas on healthy eating, calcium and fiber sources, and anti-osteoporosis exercises, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

1. “Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. January 2012.

2. Leidy, HJ. “Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese.” The American Journal of Nutrition 97(4):677-688. 2013.

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Top Tips for Staying Committed to Fitness this Summer

Shoes

The heat is on and summer is in full swing. As your calendar fills up with happy hours alfresco and weekends spent grazing at neighborhood block parties and barbecue buffets, don’t let go of your summer health and fitness routine.

To keep yourself on track both at home and while traveling these summer months, here are my top tips for staying committed to a healthier, happier you this summer.

Keep a Food Log

Research shows that recording what you eat is one of the best ways to stay on track and achieve your diet and fitness goals. With so many helpful mobile apps and online trackers, that food log is always in reach and it’s now easier than ever. I’m a fan of the USDA’s SuperTracker, which provides customized nutrition guidance to help people make smarter choices. MyFitnessPal is another favorite.  Keep track of your daily intake no matter where you are this summer.

Make the Time

Though we are typically more active in the summertime don’t confuse activity with exercise. Carve out time in your busy summer schedule to schedule a workout. Even 20-30 minutes a day can make a huge impact – increasing your overall productivity and energy levels. Plus, making exercise a daily part of your daily routine reduces stress and keeps you relaxed.

Think Ahead

Commit to your exercise routine ahead of time and opt to get out there early when it’s cooler…or late. Try to avoid getting out in the middle of the day – between 11 am and 4 pm when the sun is pounding the pavement, too. And on these days when it’s too hot to be exercise outdoors, don’t just forgo your day’s exercise routine. Rather, hit the pool or plan to work out indoors. Staying on a schedule will also give you a chance to evaluate what is working and what is not in your fitness routine.  Summer is a fun time to try to a boot camp, water exercise class, water-walking or biking in your neighborhood or a new bike trail. Family or neighborhood volleyball or badminton games, bowling and hikes also add summer fun.

Indulge in Summer Veggies and Fruits of the Season

Throughout the year it’s easy to fall back on a few key fruits and vegetables, but summertime brings fresh choices. Give your body a nutritious kick by incorporating summer’s bounty of in-season, colorful fruits and vegetables. From red tomatoes and yellow sweet corn to dark green kale, there are so many options to choose from. Indulge in chilled watermelon, sweet cantaloupe, juicy grapes, refreshing pineapple and plump cherries this season. These also make perfectly sweet desserts. Use summer fruits and vegetables for snacks – keep them sliced up and ready to go in the refrigerator.  Smoothies are great snacks and desserts, too.

Find a Buddy

Being accountable makes all the difference. Find a partner that keeps you committed – and that also makes plotting out your diet and fitness goals more fun. Plan morning exercises together – running, walking, biking or hitting the gym – and swap healthy recipes. Buddying up is a great way to stay accountable and also celebrate your achievements when you hit your goals.

For more ideas on healthy eating, calcium and fiber sources, and anti-osteoporosis exercises, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

*Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com.

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Earth Day – Five Easy Ways to Eat Greener

Green Salad

Eating green is not only good for you, but good for the planet. It’s important we understand how our food is grown, processed, packaged and transported to us to make the best decisions for our health and the environment.

Make a pledge to give your eating habits a green makeover by following these simple steps. This Earth Day, there’s no better time to start.

Get real. Real foods in their most basic form are as “green” and unadulterated as you can go. The only processing and energy utilized is your own – in preparing them at home. We are talking about fresh vegetables, fruit and beans and remember, fresh is best; frozen next best. Steer away from foods processed with extra salt, sugar or fats. Stick with the basics. These more “basic” the food, the more nutrition is preserved, and the more likely your appetite to be satisfied. There’s nothing like fresh and crunchy to satisfy hunger and when it comes to snack time, nuts are an excellent  “green” go-to. Pistachios, walnuts, almonds and peanuts are all-packed with disease-fighting nutrients and can add crunch and flavor to nearly any recipe.

Above all, be sure to read food labels carefully and select foods with the shortest and most basic, understandable list of ingredients.

Veggie up. All vegetables start out green, literally and you can’t overestimate the power of adding more greens to your diet. They are chock-full of antioxidants, phyto-nutrient, vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, folic acid, copper and zinc and Vitamins A and C. This wealth of nutrients protect the heart, blood vessels, bones, immune system and muscles and prevent heart disease, cancer, hypertension and bone loss. Talk about a great dollar value per nutrient value!

Try cooking your veggies in simple ways – like steaming in your microwave or stovetop – or add a little excitement by roasting your veggies in the oven, sautéing them in a skillet or grilling them on the grill. Try simple olive oil, which encrusts over the vegetable when roasted or grilled, sealing juices. Try spicing them up! Add a little heat by tossing vegetables into a powdery mix of cayenne, curry, ginger or Serrano peppers. Milder flavoring agents like fresh lemon juice, oregano, basil or seasoning blends work wonderfully, too.

Keep it local. On average our produce travels around 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. Cut out the energy used to transport your food and grow your own plant foods or buy local produce at farmer’s markets. Some grocery stores also sell local produce, too, so be sure to ask. Look for “organic” or “sustainable” certifications (labeled). If you have any questions, you can always ask produce-growers at farmer’s markets how they raise what they sell.

Eat up. Most fruits and vegetables come with edible peels or stalks. Don’t toss them out – eat them! This is where most of the important vitamins and minerals are and of course, fiber, too. Making a point to eat all the edible parts of your produce will ensure you have less waste while getting the most nutritionally out of each meal.

Tap your water. Forgo plastic water bottles. They are often over-priced and certainly over-packaged especially when we have access to clean water. What’s more, municipal tap water is often times more strictly regulated (and safer) than bottled water, and contains fluoride, for cavity-resistant teeth. Save the waste and the planet by using a refillable water bottle you can carry with you at all times.

These tips will get you started on simplifying your diet, getting healthier and saving money while preserving and appreciating the earth.

For more ideas on healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

 

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Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road

Sticking to healthy eating while traveling is no easy task. Away from a regular cooking and exercise routine, temptation often sets in, putting a real dent in your diet. Rationalizing food choices, eating in excess and throwing moderation out the window, vacations are a quick way to pile on the pounds.

This summer vacation, don’t let your travel plans sabotage your health! Follow these tips to make the most of your summer vacation and ensure you stay healthy and energized all summer long.

Get packin’. Packing up for vacation isn’t just about picking out the right swimsuit and flip-flops. It’s the time to plan ahead for healthy food choices. Pack a small cooler with nutrient-rich snacks for the road. Choose ones that are easy transportable like bagged low-fat popcorn, sliced apples, fresh grapes and cherries, raisins and vegetable sticks with hummus. Keeping these healthy grab-n-go foods on hand will keep you satisfied while on the road.

Plan ahead. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to avoid sticking to any type of routine. Plan out a day ahead of time where and when you will eat your meals. This will ensure you aren’t skipping meals, which often increases the likelihood of overeating later in the day and choosing less nutritious foods.

Sip smartly. Vacation time often means extended coffee and cocktail hours, however, caffeine and alcohol are sure ways to leave you dehydrated and running on empty. Take along a refillable, aluminum bottle on road trips and be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a flight. When it comes to eating out, make water your primary beverage. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have added sugar, adding extra calories with no additional nutritional value. Water does a body good!

Stay in control. Traveling allows for less control over what and when you eat. Packing your hotel fridge or vacation home with nutritious foods, however, will increase your chances of eating healthy and prevent unplanned, unhealthy snacking. Make a trip to the grocery store on your first day of vacation and stock your pantry and fridge full of fresh produce and real foods. Stick to your typical eating habits as much as possible.

Go local. Forgo rest stop vending machines full of empty calorie snacks and opt for independent restaurants and cafes on the road. For a look at food stops with nutritious offerings, check out Healthy Highways: The Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating, which lists health food stores and vegetarian restaurants across the country. If fast food is your only option, check posted calories and opt for salads, grilled sandwiches, small burgers, yogurt and fresh fruit which are now showing up on menus at most of the fast food restaurants across the country. You may also choose Subway Fresh Fit meals, which feature a variety of 6-inch subs served with apple slices and water. These meals meet the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal certification for nutritional criteria for levels of sodium, calories, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fats.

Stay active. Use vacation as a positive excuse to expand your exercise horizons. Get active in ways you never have before. Grab a bike and hit up a mountain trail or test your skills on a paddleboard or kayak. Consider taking a new class at a local gym or yoga studio. After introducing yourselves to new exercises, you may decide to bring these activities home and make them part of your weekly routine.

No matter what your destination may be, remember to not use a vacation as an excuse to be lazy and indulgent, but as an opportunity to try new activities and have fun. Make fit resolutions before hitting the road and enjoy a healthy and fun-filled vacation!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.