Outdoor summer lounging is a beloved Canadian pastime. But with all those brunches and happy hours to savour, it's easy to get carried away. "We want to have fun and make our summer months count, but that sense of celebration can lead to a sense of abandon," says Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian and the president of 80 Twenty Nutrition in Toronto. That carefree attitude can lead to sunburn, dehydration and overindulging. But not to worry: These tips will help you make the most of patio season while keeping your health top of mind.
Drink (water) like a fish
Time flies when you're relaxing on a patio with your squad. But "too much heat can be harmful to your health," warns Natasha Quiding, a public health nurse in Castlegar, B.C. "Getting overheated and dehydrated can lead to severe heatstroke." Look out for dry mouth and eyes, fatigue, irritability and dizziness, all signs of dehydration, and drink plenty of water, even if you don't feel thirsty.
Unwind with a drink, but don't unravel
Not only does alcohol up your caloric intake, but it also has a diuretic effect. Plus, it lowers inhibitions and weakens willpower! "You hit the patio with the best of intentions," says Brissette, "and next thing you know, you've had a couple of drinks and you're diving into the appetizers." Temper the effect by limiting yourself to one or two cocktails, and make them the "skinny" version. "I like to ask for a raspberry mojito without the syrup or sugar," she says.
Eat, but be mindful about it
Some restaurant appetizers (pulled-pork nachos, anyone?) can ring in at a whopping 2,500 calories. But when temptation strikes, you don't have to avoid the appetizer menu altogether. Instead, choose a healthful option such as edamame, chicken skewers or fresh salad rolls. And think before you nosh. "Research has shown that mindless eating occurs when food is around you," says Brissette. "So if a plate is placed in front of you, just pass it down the table."
Prepare for the sun
"One of the biggest problems with Canadian patio season is that our weather patterns are so variable," says Dr. Shannon Humphrey, a Vancouver-based dermatologist. So make like a scout and be prepared for anything. Get into the habit of applying SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every morning, rain or shine, and make sure you're reapplying every 1 1/2 to two hours while in the sun. A self-dispensing powder sunscreen makes it easy to top up your coverage on the go.
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