Happy Summer Solstice!……Maximize Your Health This Summer!

by Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB & Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, CDE

Our patients constantly remind us that Summer is one long vacation!  It is a play season for children and adults alike.   June 21st , summer solstice day, heralds the start of summer.   Soon to be followed by traditional 4th of July cook-outs, parades and fireworks.  (July is actually the official “anti-boredom” month for kids!)

For some, this season also includes overeating, overspending, overindulgence, and overconsumption in general.

Summer is known for cook-outs, barbecues, traveling, quick foods, summer reunions, eating out and ice cream.  Burgers, hot dogs, chips and dips, potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, fried foods, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, wine coolers, more beer, strawberry daiquiries, frozen mudslides, and your aunt’s favorite dessert.  Tons more fats and sugars abounding……

NOTE on binge drinking:  Not only is binge drinking high in calories, it can also increase heart attack risk, stroke risk, certain cancers, accidents, violence, suicide and dying prematurely.  According to The National Institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as  a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (bac) level to 0.08% or more.  This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within 2 hours.  ADVICE: If alcohol is not contraindicated, limit alcohol consumption in 1 day to 2-3 drinks for men and 1-2 drinks for women. Have a glass of water between each drink.  1 alcoholic beverage = 1  12 oz beer OR a 5 oz glass of wine OR 1 shot (1.5 oz) of pure liquor like vodka, or Scotch. 

In addition to food and drink, the Summer season also includes a variety of water activities, hiking, camping, and for some: high risk activities like para-sailing, extreme rock climbing, parachuting from planes, even wild roller coaster thrill rides at your local fair. (This is not an all-inclusive list!)

Summer is also the season for increased emergency room visits due to increased accidents and mishaps, insect bites, increased food poisoning events, increased alcohol poisoning, and flare-ups of some chronic diseases.  There are certain increased health risks in the summer: particularly for Gastro-Intestinal issues (food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, and diverticulitis), Auto-Immune diseases (Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and Sjogren’s), Skin Flare-ups (heat rash, poison ivy and poison oak, rosacea, psoriasis, sunburn), Breathing Issues (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, allergies),  Foot Flare-ups (plantar warts, plantar fasciitis, blisters, fungal infections.) Bug and Spider Bites.  Summer is a well known season for tick bites which can cause Lyme Disease.

For those with chronic disease situations, it is important to give extra attention to management of these medical issues in Summer.

For those who enjoy risky high intensity sports and activities, it is important that you stay mindful and focused.   Wear recommended safety gear. Stay well hydrated and have some nutritional energy on board for physical activity.  Experts recommend waiting 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating, prior to exercising. (A solid meal can take 1-4 hours to digest.)  If you didn’t get a chance to eat a solid meal, you can eat something easy to digest 20-30 minutes prior to exercising: e.g.: fresh fruits and protein drinks.    For post exercise eating: wait 30 minutes, which will help the blood move from the exercised muscles to the digestive system.

NOTE on Water and Hydration: Fluids need to be replaced daily.  The recommended amount by The National Research Council is 1 quart (4 cups) for every 1000 calories expended.  That = ~12 cups for a man and ~9 cups for a woman.  You need more fluids if you spend time out in the sun, or are very active, because you can lose fluids.  One indication of adequate hydration is the color of the urine.  If it is pale yellow, this is good. If concentrated or dark yellow, try to drink more water.



  • See June 7, 2011 BLOG re: sunscreen usage.  If you use bug sprays, apply before applying sunscreen.
  • Limit dehydrating beverages such as wine coolers, mudslides, margaritas, high sugar sodas, fruit juices and frozen lattes.
  • Choose healthy foods as much as possible. For example, grow some of your own vegetables or shop at local farm stands for vegetables and fruits.
  • Instead of sitting and chatting over a high caloric drink, go for a walk with a buddy.
  • If your errand is close by–walk or go by bike.  If you take your bike, wear a helmet no matter how dorky it makes you feel!!!
  • Cook-outs:  in addition to bringing the dish everyone expects from you (e.g. frosted fudge brownies) also bring a tossed vegetable salad, raw vegetables, or cut up fruit.  Low carb veggies include: salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, summer squash green beans, cauliflower, collard greens, cabbage.  A good summer offering is a cold fruit soup before beginning to indulge.
  • Eat breakfast even if you expect to be attending a food oriented gathering. You may do better controlling food choices because you ate breakfasat.
  • Healthy grilling.  Grill vegetables brushed lightly with olive oil or light marinades. Not only is this a healthy choice, marinating also decreases exposure to HCAs by 96%.   (HCAs—heterocyclic amines—-are thought be be cancer causing agents.)  
  • Avoid direct exposure to open flames. 
  • Eat less—and donate a meal to the homeless!
  • Wear a seatbelt, drive defensively and don’t drive while drunk or drowsy.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • Don’t leave children unattended by a swimming pool or pond.
  • If you are hiking or working in tall grass, wear protective clothing.
  • On days over 90 degrees, spend as much time in air conditioning as possible.  Take cool dips or showers and drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t wear shoes that are worn out. 
  • If wearing flip flops, choose a flip flop with heel and arch supports.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for each specific activity.
  • Don’t walk long distances in non-supportive shoes.  Keep shoes and socks dry.
  • Include a minimum of 30 minutes per day for relaxation, quiet time, and inactivity.  This will allow you to “power down” and re-charge your batteries.
  • In order to fully appreciate this Summer, GET ENOUGH SLEEP!!!!   The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep/day for adults.   


The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!
Deb and Wendy

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