Vacation and Weight Loss: Diet Danger (cont.)

The appetizers don't help, especially when they come in the form of baskets brimming with bread (with butter on the side, of course).

''What happens is you're so hungry when you get there, that when the waiter brings out the bread, you fill up on it,'' says Hall, who lectures on nutrition issues at Arizona State University. ''But then you still eat a full meal.''

Coping Strategies: ''First and foremost, skip the bread,'' says Hall. ''In fact, ask the waiter not even to bring it out to the table.''

Next, ask the waiter how generous the portion sizes are. If they're big enough to feed a small army, share the wealth.

''Ask the server what the portion sizes are, and if you can share -- most places these days will let you do that,'' says Hall. ''And the good news is that if you share your main course, you can share a dessert as well.'' (Of course, if your dining companions aren't into sharing, there's always the doggie bag.)

Whether you're eating out or in, eating slowly is another tool for portion control.

''It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so eat slowly,'' says Hall. ''Otherwise, you just keep eating when really you should be done. And even though it seems simple, when you are full, stop eating.'' And if your favorite restaurant is the dreaded all-you-can-eat buffet? It's time to find a new haunt.

''Avoid the all-you-can-eat places like the plague,'' says Hall. ''It's just illogical to eat that much food.''

Travel Troubles

The Disaster Area: Vacations, which for many people are all about eating, drinking, and relaxing.

''People tend to lose sight of what their dieting goals are on vacation,'' says Hall. ''Health and nutrition are not really top of mind.''

Mix that with little to no exercise and you have a recipe for dieting disaster: ''The other problem is that most people are not very active on vacation,'' says Hall.

Coping Strategies: ''First, decide what the vacation is all about for you,'' says Susan Mitchell, a registered dietitian and author of Fat is Not Your Fate. ''Is it OK for you to overeat and scrap your diet, or are you going to be careful?'' The important thing is to balance out your indulgences with healthy choices.

''Many hotels have small refrigerators in the rooms,'' says Mitchell. ''So if you know you want to go out for dinner and maybe splurge on a few extra calories, keep some healthy food stocked in your room for breakfast and lunch.''

And while exercise may not be your primary concern while on vacation, it's not too difficult to work some in here and there.

''You don't have the use the gym while on vacation, but you can go for walks and try to balance sitting on the beach with exploring and walking around,'' says Hall.

For Linda Neuman, who lost 53 pounds and has kept it off for more than a year, vacations are challenging, but not impossible.

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