Healthy Essentials for Your Long-Weekend Getaway

Whether you’re planning a stay-cation or hitting the road for a cottage adventure, you can take a few easy steps to make it a healthier long weekend.

Embracing Sunshine, Before and After

One of the simplest joys of spring is feeling the warm rays of the sun on our winter-weary skin. However, it’s important to practise sun safety to protect your skin from the damaging UV rays that come along with more exposure in the warmer months, as unprotected skin can lead to more rapid aging and an increase in the risk of developing skin cancer.

Staying sun-smart naturally is easier than you’d think.

When it comes to sunscreens, there are natural products available on shelves of your local health food store. Many conventional sunscreens contain harmful ingredients that are absorbed by the skin, including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate and octocrylene, among others. These ingredients have been shown to be absorbed into the body and measured in blood, urine and even breastmilk. Oxybenzone, the most widespread, has also been linked to skin allergy symptoms and hormone disruption. This is why industry insiders emphasize the importance of choosing a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in the ingredients list, especially for your kids. When applied, these metals lie on the surface of the skin and reflect UVA and UVB rays without being absorbed.

Although we do our best to avoid sunburns, they sometimes do happen. Practising proper after-sun care can reduce the pain and irritation of sunburns, and help to heal the delicate layers of your skin. Coconut oil, for instance, is a pure and simple moisturizer that is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that complement the skin’s protective barrier, locking in moisture and preserving damaged skin.

The Flavour of Barbecue Without the Health Concerns

What better way to savour the warm weather than to cook and enjoy a meal outside? Few things beat the aroma and flavour of an outdoor barbecue, especially on a holiday weekend.

Unfortunately, research suggests that barbecuing foods — meat, in particular — can introduce potentially harmful carcinogens. When grilled at high temperatures, the fat in meat is the prime culprit in the association between barbecuing and health concerns. This is because it forms carcinogenic compounds that linger in the meat or, when melted off, deposit back into your food by way of the smoke rising from your barbecue.

Try this: Look for leaner cuts of quality meat and cook them at lower temperatures for longer. What little fat is present in your meat will only form dangerous compounds at high temperatures, so this method will still give you the delicious results without the worry. Keep in mind that larger portions will take longer to cook, so going for smaller cuts of meat and grilling more of them will reduce the cooking time of each piece.

Choosing a vegetarian menu will also reduce your exposure to the risky compounds, as the carcinogens formed in the fat of meats aren't present in veggies. To further reduce the risk associated with these compounds, grilling vegetables provides the many benefits you can expect from consuming quality produce.

As an extra health tip, choose organic vegetables whenever possible, which reduces your exposure to pesticides and other unwanted toxins. Make sure to keep your grill clean, too, because the charred residue from previous cookouts can deposit the dangerous compounds back into your veggies.

No matter what you’re doing to embrace the joys of the long weekend, it's easy to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Visit your local CHFA Member health food store for mineral-based sunscreens, and remember to balance your barbecuing with high-quality meats and organic vegetables.