Healthy, Fun Campouts

Registered dietitian Melanie Douglass has some ideas to help you have fun and still stay fit.


If you love camping, you probably love that typical campout meal, right? You know, the hot dogs, the s’mores, the cold soda… and all the good stuff in between.

I know what you’re thinking: “she’s going to ruin this for me too?”

Not to worry. If you and your family only go camping once or twice a year, and you don’t have other special occasions (birthdays, vacations, parties, holidays) that cause you to eat too much on a regular basis (it seems like a weekly occurrence these days) then go ahead and enjoy your campout traditions without any stress.

On the other hand, if you fall into the category of having a big family meal on a regular basis, then take a few minutes to review some simple tips that will help you enjoy your campouts and other traditions in a sensible, healthful way.

First, let’s breakdown the typical campout meal:

melanie Douglass

Hot dog with
370 calories
Potato Chips (1
150 calories
Macaroni or
Potato Salad
150 calories
12-ounce can of
Soda (just one)
150 calories
2 Delicious
400 calories
TOTAL 1200
+82 grams of
sugar (20 teaspoons) and 62 grams of fat (5 Tbsp)

1200 calories, 20 teaspoons of sugar and 5 tablespoons of fat is too high—especially for the third meal of the day. Keep in mind that these are normal single-portion serving sizes. If you go back for seconds, the numbers only go up.

However, with just a few painless changes, you can still enjoy the traditional campout meal in a more healthful way.

5 Tips to Make it Healthier

o Skip the sugary beverages

— Use diet beverages or water

o Drop the cheese

— Every little slice of cheese add about 100 calories and 10 grams of fat

o Don’t offer too many choices

— Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, jello, fruit salad, rolls, licorice, candy, etc… the more choices you offer the more you (and the kids) eat

o Serve fruit or baked chips instead of traditional chips

— This will cut 8 grams a fat per serving (hey, that’s like 3/4 of a Tbsp of Crisco!)

o Eat one s’more and call it good

— You can even use 10 chocolate chips per s’more instead of 1/3 of a chocolate bar. That way you save about 100 calories and 2 teaspoons of sugar per s’more!

1 Tip to Make it Fun

o Hike!

— Every good campout needs a hike; you go out of your way to get away from the world and into nature… you at least need to get out and see it! Take the family for a walk and enjoy the nature you intended to see.


By Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM

Author: Tip-a-Day Guide to Healthy Living

(Deseret Book, 2007)

Have a health question for Melanie? Click here to submit your question and Melanie will answer your question on an upcoming Studio 5 segment!

© 2007 Melanie Douglass, Deseret Book

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