Are your summer vacations making you fat?

WASHINGTON — You wait all year for that week or two of escape and relaxation. But is your summer vacation time making you fat?

A recent study by researchers at the University of Georgia and Texas Tech looked at people who went on vacation for one to three weeks and found that the vacationers gained about a pound. The problem is that six weeks later, they still hadn’t shed that added weight.

When combined with other periods of added weight usually not shed (such as the holidays), these become pounds people keep.

Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires said researchers have concluded that vacation weight gain could be fueling obesity. What’s more, the pattern extends to children who tend to gain weight during the summer months when they are not in school.

Squires said even on vacation, people need to plan their meals. “Pace yourself!” she urged. “No one wants to take the fun out of vacation … but only splurge on the foods that will make the vacation memorable. Something that’s special from that area or a special cocktail, for example. But don’t waste your calories on something you can get anywhere, any time.”

Squires recommended eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, having a lighter breakfast and lunch, eating a first course such as a cold soup for dinner and finding healthy snacks.

“The weight gain among kids during summer vacations is especially concerning now because there was a time when kids were very active during the summer — they either lost weight or stayed at the same weight,” Squires said. “But now, there’s a fair number of weeks with a lot of down time. There may be more screen time, playing video games, watching television and that means that they are not burning calories. Plus, they may have more access to food at home for chronic snacking.”

Squires recommended using vacation time to try a new exercise or a new sport, or taking a new class. Do something that involves extra activity, she said.

“Don’t give in to the temptation of spending all your time by the pool and don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can eat as much as you want because it’s vacation time. Do some extra walking, biking or hiking because most people overestimate the amount of calories that are burned during exercise and they underestimate what they’ve consumed,” Squires said.

When you return home from vacation, it is recommended that you make an assessment of where you stand. And yes, that means getting on the scale.

“Give yourself a day or two once you get back … to kind of let things recalibrate. But then you need to know where you are, just like you would do with your bank account. You’ll want to know if you put on some weight,” she said.

If you did gain weight on vacation, Squires advised against panicking. She suggested getting back on track with your regular eating and exercise habits — but scaling back on calories for a while and boosting physical activity. That combination should help you to lose those extra vacation pounds.

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