Top tips for a healthy summer

Jul 17, 2017, 09:21 AM by Blair H. Brown, registered dietitian nutritionist, UTMB Health Texas Transplant Center

SunfaceSummer is officially here! For many, the summer months mean vacations, swimming pools and outdoor barbecues. Below are some helpful tips to keep your health in mind while having fun in the sun:

  1. Stay hydrated. Water is key! The general rule is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Not a water drinker? Try flavoring water with lemon, cucumber, mint or your favorite flavor pairings. Avoid sugary drinks such as concentrated fruit juices and sodas.
  2. Wash your hands often. Avoid catching the dreaded summer cold. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to eliminate the spread of germs. Pack disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer for easy on-the-go hygiene.
  3. Step it up. While on vacation, plan a hike or bike ride. Park further out from the pool entrance. Run through the sprinkler with the kids. Wash your own car. These activities keep you moving and keep your heart rate up. However, exercise with caution in extreme heat. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke to keep you and your family safe.
  4. Pack your own cooler. Instead of being tempted by fast food or unhealthy grab-and-go snacks, pack your own cooler with finger foods that travel well such as berries, popcorn, cheese sticks or veggies and hummus.
  5. Eat outdoors safely. Melted ice is a sign that your food is no longer safe. Keep your cold foods at 40 degrees or cooler. Don’t let foods sit out for longer than two hours to reduce your risk of foodborne illness, and wash your hands before and after handling meat or other raw products.
  6. Monitor alcohol intake. High in empty calories and low nutritional value, alcoholic beverages can lead to dehydration and overeating. If you do plan on enjoying an adult beverage or two, make sure you drink responsibly and have a designated driver. Consider drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to help space out intake.
  7. Visit a local farmer’s market. Many communities now hold regularly scheduled farmer’s markets where local vendors sell their homegrown fruits, vegetables, jams and crafts. These events are an excellent way to pick up some healthy summer bounty, support your local small businesses and provide learning experiences for children and teens in your family.
  8. Fire up the grill. Instead of heading to the fryer, light up the backyard grill for a lower calorie meal preparation technique. Think outside the box—you can grill just about anything! Fish, pineapple, potatoes, peaches and squash are just a few tasty and nutritious ideas.