Focus on Heart-Healthy

How to eat on the go during summer vacation

By: Erin Wilder

It’s summertime, and no matter where you are and what your summer trips entail, remember there are great ways to make sure you and your kids eat heart-healthy on the go during this sunny season! Exercising and eating healthy on road trips are optimal summer ways to boost your health all year long!

Eating less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars (as recommended by federal dietary guidelines) can help keep your heart, weight and long-term health in check. Choosing foods that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fish gives you a daily serving of good health.

If you’re eating away from home, one of the best resources is the American Heart Association’s Heart Check program, which helps you find better options when eating away from home with the Heart-Check mark certification for heart-healthy meals.

On summer vacation, no matter where you stop on the road for a bite to eat, look for the Heart-Check mark on the menu – it’s similar to the one you may recognize from heart-healthy foods in the grocery store. Then you’ll know right away that the meal has been certified to meet the American Heart Association’s nutritional standards.

Keep in mind: When you’re on summer vacation, if you find yourself driving through for fast food, avoid super-sizing your order to help cut down on fat, salt and sugar. The words, “fast food,” may conjure images of greasy burgers, salty fries and frosty shakes brimming with fat and sugar. The truth is that fast food doesn’t always mean “bad for you,” according to Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.

“You just have to be selective, both about the choice of restaurant and the choices you make when you get there,” Van Horn said. “Some, but not all, fast food restaurants have grilled chicken, salads, low-fat milk, fruit and even oatmeal choices for breakfast. Figure out which restaurants offer such options, and try to frequent those more often.”

For road trips, focus on packing customized travel lunches for each traveler from your local grocery store. “It’s often cheaper and just as easy to run into a grocery store and buy more nutritious food, like a freshly made sandwich on whole-grain bread using fresh turkey or chicken and a piece of fruit,” Van Horn said.

Remember, when it comes to choosing a quick meal, you can think inside or outside the fast-food box. Keeping your summer bright and your focus on clean eating will help you travel the road of life with a strong heart and healthy body!

Erin Wilder is the executive director of the American Heart Association – Corpus Christi. For more information, visit You can also find daily resources for living healthy for good at