(ARA) – Living healthy is an important goal for many of us. Adults strive to implement healthy habits in their daily lives and parents try to pass these on to their children. It’s no wonder then that health is becoming increasingly important in all aspects of life, including when planning a vacation.

“The travel industry is embracing this trend and programs are being developed that combine healthy values with lots of family fun,” says Colleen Hodson of The Dude Ranchers’ Association, an organization that represents over 100 ranches in the western United States and Canada. “People and families of all ages now have options that incorporate health so you can have the vacation fun and feel good about it as well.”

Here are some tips to help you plan a fun, healthy vacation:

1. Indulge with delicious foods that are healthy.
When you’re on vacation, you want to enjoy yourself, and there’s nothing better than sitting down to a delicious meal. But who says that taste and health can’t go hand in hand?

Top chefs often use the freshest and healthiest ingredients possible to create dishes that tempt the palette and are good for the body. When you vacation, choose meals that use fresh, local ingredients. This will help you get a sense of the local fare and also indulge in a nutritious meal.

At Rancho De La Osa in Sasabe, Ariz., the chefs specialize in creating healthy dishes that are a delicious indulgence. “Our chefs use very little salt and use the fresh herbs we grow on the ranch,” comments Veronica Schultz, proprietress at the ranch. Rosemary, basil, mint, tarragon and Mexican oregano are all grown on-site. During the summer, the ranch grows tomatoes and peppers as well.

The ranch only uses extra virgin olive oil and makes all of their own lighter salad dressings. Sauces are fruit-based instead of cream-based to cut calories and increase flavor. “There’s no pre-made anything,” adds Schultz. “We make everything from scratch ... guests love it."

2. Spend quality time together and apart.
Health isn’t just about eating well and exercising, it’s about having positive relationships in your life. When planning a family vacation, choose activities the family can do together, working toward a common goal. Trying something new could bring you closer.

Jeanne Ross of Colorado Trails Ranch, a popular family vacation destination in Durango, Colo., says that families visiting the ranch split their time between activities together and activities with their peer groups. She notes that dude ranches provide a backdrop for families to focus on traditional values and spend quality time together.

“Our values are for families to have a good time, learn something new and be safe. People make friends that last forever, and that’s really a value of health,” comments Ross.

At the ranch, activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, rafting, trap shooting and more. Ross says these activities even help stubborn teens break out of their shell. “When they first come, teens are skeptical, but after a couple days, they really enjoy themselves. When it’s time to leave Sunday morning, the ones that have the longest tears are the teenagers.”

3. Relax and spend some time learning more about yourself.
Self reflection and relaxation are important aspects of a healthy vacation. After all, when you return back to the “real world” you want to feel positive and refreshed. Vacations are the perfect time to look for activities that help you learn a little more about yourself. Perhaps spend some time journaling, or try a new artistic activity like pottery or painting.

At Homeplace Ranch in Alberta, Canada, women visitors have a special opportunity to learn more about themselves through an interpretation of their interactions with the horses. Horses don’t understand words, but they react to body language and tone of the voice. Specialist Nancy Lowery spends time with visitors explaining how their interactions with horses can give them insight into how they act and might therefore be perceived in other aspects of their lives.

“The women get together and really bond,” says Mac Makenny, owner and operator of Homeplace Ranch. “They ask questions like ‘why do you think the horse pulled away from you?’ Some of the women who did this had such a profound experience they were on the verge of tears. It’s very personal, insightful and cleansing. They really learn a lot about themselves.”

For more information visit www.guestranch.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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