Five Mistakes to Avoid in the Summer Sun
The weather is changing, and with warmer temperatures comes the desire to lie out in the sun and catch a few rays.
For many people living in the Northern part of the country, this is one of the most anticipated times of the year: When the snow flurries seem to vanish, and the sun starts shining bright.
The excitement of a new summer season can bring joy to many, but there are mistakes we make when soaking in the sun that affects our health in many different ways, including how we diet.
“Many people get so excited about soaking in the sun during the summer that they totally neglect their nutrition, and don’t acknowledge the health risks that come with over exposure to the sun,” says Tessa Prior-Pullins, one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD.
“People have cookouts with high-fattening foods, and neglect to use sunscreen because they want a hue of color.”
One of our expert dietitians sheds light on some of people’s biggest mistakes when it comes to soaking in the summer sun. She shows you what you can do to avoid these mistakes, and how you can keep your head above water when it comes to your health.
5. Drinking Alcohol Before You Eat
Most people want to reach for a cold one when they soak in the sun, but this can have a negative impact on your diet, and on your health, if you aren’t careful.
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea, especially if you are going to be in the sun for more than a couple of hours.
“If you are going to spend a lot of time in the sun this summer, make sure you don’t skip out on meals if you are going to drink alcohol,” says Tessa. “Without essential nutrition from proper meals, your body will just take in empty calories, which get converted directly into fat."
If you drink too much alcohol in the sun this summer, anticipate on working a little harder during the week to get rid of those extra calories.
4. Eating Too Much High-Fattening Foods
As mentioned above, it’s important to not skip out on meals, but it’s also important to make sure you eat enough of the “right” foods.
“The problem with going to the beach or lounging by the pool this summer is that most of us want to tote those favorite summer staples along with us: chips and dip, soda pop, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.” says Tessa.
Most of these foods are high in fat and calories, and with the heat of the summer sun, your body will have to work overtime in order to supply you with needed energy.
If you eat a ton of junk food in the summer sun, your body will literally feed off itself for needed energy. This is why athletes get sick if they do a lot of strenuous physical activity in the sun without getting essential nutrition from food. Your body becomes weak, and it’s one of the reasons why many of us find ourselves drained when we come back indoors.
If you go to the beach or pool before noon, make sure you have a hearty breakfast, like eggs and fruit with whole wheat toast. You can even add a cup of low-fat yogurt to your meal for extra protein and fiber. This will keep you fuller longer, and your body won’t have to look elsewhere for needed energy.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Just because you may be swimming in water all summer, doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water.
“If you are out in the summer sun for more than a couple of hours, you will sweat and lose essential fluids, so it’s important they get replenished,” says Tessa. “If you lose too much water, without replenishing it, you could suffer from heat exhaustion. With your body lacking the ability to cool itself off, this can lead to more serious health problems, like heat stroke."
For every hour you are out in the sun, especially during the summer months, you should drink at least one 16 ounce bottle of water.
Water can be bland for some, but you can spruce up your water with a little summer flavor by adding a touch of lemon, lime, or fruit mixer. Just make sure the mixer is low in calories, and doesn’t contain a ton of sugar.
2. Overstaying Your Welcome
You may be overly excited about lounging out in the sun this summer, but it’s important that you don’t overstay your welcome.
“The sun’s rays are usually strongest between 10am and 4pm,” says Tessa. “This doesn’t mean, however, that you should stay out in the sun for six hours."
At the most, 3-4 hours is plenty of time for you to catch an adequate amount of rays, and two hours or less is more than enough time for young children.
Even if you do take frequent breaks, or hop in the water to cool down, the strength of the sun’s rays during the summer are quite powerful, and can make you feel sick, if you aren’t careful.
If your family wants to spend all day grilling on the beach, or wants to throw a party by the pool, make sure you take frequent breaks in the shade, every hour, for at least 15-20 minutes. And, always make sure you drink plenty of water, and take the time to eat proper meals.
1. Neglecting the Importance of Sunscreen
According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with 60,000 cases reported last year alone.
It’s no coincidence that a majority of the patients diagnosed with skin cancer are citizens of Southern states where the sun shines brightest all year round.
“People underestimate the power of sunscreen,” says Tessa. “No matter how long you are going to be out in the sun, you should rigorously apply sunscreen all over your body. Adults should wear a sunscreen with no less than 15 SPF, and children, no less than 30 SPF. It’s also best to buy waterproof sunscreen, especially if you are going to take a dip in the water.
Sunscreen has been shown to block out ultraviolet rays from the sun that can cause the development of cancerous tumors. So, even if you are only going to be in the sun for a little while, just remember that sunscreen could help you have more healthy happy summers down the road.
To see how BistroMD can help you stay healthy this summer, check out our full menu here.
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