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Make Summer get-togethers fun and healthy

Adventist Health Health and Wellness, Fitness

Deborah RupaeAh, summer! It’s time to kick back and get together during Portland's beautiful, hot summer, whether that's at backyard bashes, picnics in the park or parades on the Fourth of July. In all the excitement, it's easy to become complacent about basic summer health and safety, says Deb Rupae, a family nurse practitioner at Adventist Health Medical Group's Parkrose clinic. Here are some tips on how to keep those sunny celebrations as healthy as they are fun.

Get everybody moving. Organize gatherings around activities that get your family and guests on their feet. Explore a new trail together or, if kids are attending, head out to one of Portland's parks or splash parks. Play active games–maybe soccer in a nearby field or croquet or volleyball in your backyard.

Serve thirst-quenching, crowd-pleasing drinks. Beat summer heat by rethinking drinks. Skip sugary sodas and offer pitchers of ice-cold water instead. If water feels too plain for your get together, try adding thinly sliced lemons, limes, watermelon or strawberries for flavor. And watch out for signs of dehydration or heat stroke during that pickup game of volleyball or that hot hike.

See more tips for beating Portland’s hottest days

Farmers Market StrawberriesPile on fresh produce. Serve family and friends just-picked summer fruits and vegetables. Fresh, in-season produce is at its peak in flavor and nutrition, so be ready for requests for seconds. Think veggie kebabs, leafy green salads and big bowls of cut-up fruit. For the Fourth of July, serve up a red, white and blue dessert: a no-bake watermelon cake. It’s topped with white, yogurt-based frosting and mouth-watering blueberries. This sweet treat is packed with nutrients and low in calories. For the recipe, go to

Keep uninvited guests away. Don’t let disease-causing bacteria contaminate your food at outdoor gatherings. Place perishable foods-such as burgers, deviled eggs and potato salad-in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. Even fruits, veggies and fresh salads should stay on ice. And keep the cooler in the shade. Bacteria multiply rapidly in warm temperatures.

Don't let the sunshine in. Oregonians often forget to wear sunscreen after months of dreary weather, exposing their skin to dangerous sunlight that can lead to melanoma. If you're planning for a sunny day by the pool or on the golf course, protect you and your loved ones from dangerous sun exposure by regularly applying sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Wearing a hat and sunglasses will help protect your face, ears, neck and eyes, which are all extremely sensitive to sun damage.

Finally, be a cheerleader for healthy habits. Keep in mind that children of all ages copy what adults around them do-whether that’s eating well or moving more, even at parties.

Sources: American Institute for Cancer Research; U.S. Department of Agriculture

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