Enjoy Festival Season with These Helpful Tips

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness July 29, 2018

Festival season is underway in the Chicagoland area, with over 150 opportunities for people of all ages to have some fun outdoors. Between the heat, long hours and abundance of food, it’s hard to stay healthy while attending these events. Matthew Pirotte, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Audra Wilson, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian with the Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center with Northwestern Medicine at Delnor Hospital weighed in with some tips for staying healthy while enjoying all that summer in Chicago and the suburbs have to offer.

1) Don’t try to beat the heat. Since most of these festivals are held outdoors, it’s important to be conscious of the temperature and how much time you’re spending in the heat. While most people don’t equate hot weather with Chicago, but summer temperatures regularly reach the 80s and even the 90s. Heat exhaustion is one of the main dangers of summer festivals, and it can occur simply from trying to do too much. Dr. Pirotte urges those who may be at a higher risk, such as the elderly or people with chronic medical conditions, to be conscious of the temperature and humidity. “For people who are more vulnerable to the heat, like the very old and very young, it’s important to break up those really fun experiences into manageable periods of time,” Dr. Pirotte said.

2) Stay hydrated. With heat, often comes dehydration, so it’s crucial to make sure you’re drinking enough water. This is especially true if you plan on drinking alcohol. “When you combine heat with alcohol, it starts to get really bad,” Dr. Pirotte said, “Alcohol is a diuretic that makes us lose fluids and become dehydrated. It also impairs our judgment.” Wilson recommends drinking water in between every alcoholic drink to help re-hydrate and get your body in good shape. 

3) Eat your fruits and vegetables. However, drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated; eating fruits and vegetables can help too. Most fruits and vegetables have water contents well over 80 percent, with some, like watermelon and cucumber, consisting of over 90 percent water.  Eating fruits and vegetables not only helps you stay hydrated, but also gives some healthy balance to all the not-so-healthy food options that are often found at summer festivals.

4) Pass on the funnel cake. It can be tempting to indulge every time you pass one of those specialty food stands, but Wilson encourages you to limit yourself to a few favorites, and then try to choose healthier options for your other meals. If there’s something you really want to try, consider splitting it with a friend or two. “The first taste is always the best,” Wilson said, “Satisfaction decreases after the first couple of bites so a small portion should satisfy your craving.”  

5) Eat, but eat safely. Make sure you eat every four to five hours, and try to get protein dense meals that will keep you full longer. After you have indulged in your craving, try to stick to grilled options. Mediterranean and Greek style foods often have grilled vegetables too, so those are good things to look out for. Finally, always remember not to eat anything that has been sitting out in the sun and may have spoiled. Your nose is a good indicator of food safety, so don’t forget to use it!

It’s definitely possible to have a good time while staying safe and healthy during festival season, but you have to stay aware of yourself and your surroundings. Enjoy some good food, make sure to stay hydrated and try not to spend too long in the sun.

To learn more about health and wellness, please visit https://www.nm.org/conditions-and-care-areas/health-and-wellness.

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