With warmer weather comes the perfect chance to start new healthy routines. Check out some of my tips and recommendations for the healthiest summer ever!
1. Disconnect: Cutting down on screen time is something many of us struggle with. Nicer weather means more chances to get out. Create opportunities to spend time connecting with people instead. Some studies seem to correlate social media time with higher levels of depression and anxiety. Help kids disconnect too, by planning an afternoon doing something special with them. Perhaps take them to a tea shop and enjoy some great conversation together.
2. Drink green tea: When you’re at the tea shop order green tea. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) green tea has cooling properties, meaning it’s an excellent choice in the summer. In fact, many Beijingers will never drink green tea in the winter. Green tea contains antioxidants that can help counteract the effect of pollution, because unfortunately in the summer we can still get smoggy days.
3. Outdoor activities: That being said, it’s still important to take advantage of the hotter temperatures and go outside. Sunshine is important for Vitamin D production and it’s produced naturally in our bodies when skin is exposed to the light of the sun. Of course, we need to be careful not to burn, as that will seriously increase our risk of skin cancer. While being outdoors, wear hats and try to stay in the shade during peak hours (around 10am-2pm). If you will be in a pool or won’t have access to shade, use sunscreen that’s safe.
4. Safe Sun Protection: In general avoid oxybenzone and choose mineral based products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These don’t get absorbed into the bloodstream, unlike oxybenzone which is a hormone disruptor.
5. Hydration: In Beijing summers are hot and humid, causing us to lose water through sweat. People always want to know how much water they need to drink, but it’s a difficult question to answer because it depends on so many factors. The best way to estimate whether you’re hydrated is to make sure your urine is a faint, pale yellow color. Some people like to use the 2L mark, but I find in Beijing sometimes that’s actually not enough. One word of caution though, if you find you have excessive thirst even after drinking 5L of water a day, if you have to go to the bathroom every hour and it disrupts your sleep, you may be suffering from diabetes insipidus. See your doctor and let them know what you’re experiencing.
6. Bring on the veg: Summer is the perfect time to increase your vegetable intake and thankfully there are many seasonal options to choose from. In Beijing, we can find familiar staples like cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, but there are also more exotic finds like water spinach, known as kōngxīncài (왕懃꽉), Indian lettuce or yóumàicài (答찝꽉) and Chinese spinach or hàncài (볶꽉). If you’re feeling very adventurous try some bitter melon or kŭguā (욈믿), a summer must since it’s also cool in nature.
7. Eat more raw foods: Eating in season is important for maximum nutrient content, and raw fruits and vegetables take that nutrition to the next level. Since there’s no heating involved vitamin content is generally higher, and beneficial enzymes are also preserved. That’s why summer is the perfect time for salads and fresh fruits.
8. Pack safe picnics: Beijing has many great parks to enjoy in the summer, but when you pack a picnic try to avoid foods with meat or eggs (mayo included). Boiled eggs are less of a concern, and if you must take meat products, be sure they’re packed on ice. Hot foods are more challenging to keep safe, unless you eat them right away. Food that stays out in the heat can spell tummy t-r-o-u-b-l-e. Don’t leave food out for more than two hours, less in extreme temperatures.
9. Stress less: Summer is the perfect time to adopt a more easy-going attitude. Take some time for self-care and do things that bring you joy. Arrange for a regular massage or a nightly walk with a friend. Call a loved one from overseas or a friend you’ve been missing. Try adopting meditation as a regular practice. There are many meditation apps out there. Try one for 10 minutes a day for seven consecutive days and see how you feel.