Hot fest (not mess)

Photo: Michael Lehet

The true beginning of summer in Chicago is when the festivals start. This weekend’s Midsommarfest is a perfect example of sun and fun and food and drink, but is there a healthy way to go about your festival frolicking? Luckily, there is.

Now indulgence is fine from time to time, but why not go into the parties with the focus of maintaining the health goals you hold dear the rest of the year?

Here are some simple tips to ensure that your busy summer festival schedule leaves your spirit high and your body fit.

Sensible shoes. Now don’t get us started on those ladies (and fair enough, sometimes men) who try to rock the heels or super high wedges during these street parties. With the amount of boozing and packed crowds this seems like an accident waiting to happen, no matter how fierce your gams may look.

Now on to the worst offender, flip flops. Not only do these flimsy choice for foot wear offend a large population (especially with pants, UGH!), but they may lead to major foot problems like overpronation. Overpronation is a condition where the arch of a person’s foot flattens when they step down on their foot. This causes the foot to roll inward (toward the center of the body). Everyone’s feet pronate naturally; however, because flip-flops are made of spongy foam, they allow your feet to pronate more than normal. Over time, overpronation can cause pain in your feet, legs and back. Your favorite gym shoes or even some comfortable slips are going to offer you better support and leave your whole body feeling better at the end of a long day dancing and schlepping on the pavement.

Booze/H2O … Booze/H2O. Of course the festivals go hand in hand with putting back a few adult beverages, but alternating every drink with water is very important. Everyone knows that alcohol, in any form, tends to dehydrate the body. Couple that with extreme heat and you have a potential disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, Chicago has yet to make water filling stations mandatory at street festivals, but hopefully this will change soon. So, to lessen the cost of buying water at festivals, bring your own water bottle (BPA free) and pop into one of the many restaurants or bars and politely ask to have your bottle filled. Most times they will be happy to oblige.

Healthy food, healthy mood. The best solution to eating healthy during these festive times is to not go to the festival already hungry.  While demand for healthier options is higher and many vendors are noticing this trend by offering healthier fare, the best way to ensure that you are eating healthy is to fill your body with a nutritious meal before you go. This will also help your wallet as the prices for festival food is often much higher then eating before you go. Now, indulgence is often the name of the game at street festivals, so if you are going to dine at the event make sure you do not buy the first thing that you see. Peruse the whole festival before you make your decision and eating local and organic should be the first thing on your mind. Plant-based options are probably going to be the healthiest, and please do not opt for the double dip of butter on that already delicious and nutritious ear of corn.

Concern for the Burn. In an installment of Ask-Doctor-Keith, our Doctor Keith addressed sun safety tips for summer, so refresh your memories with a quick read about sunscreen. As the temperatures rise, the clothing tends to shed, so limiting your time in the sun can be as important as keeping yourself hydrated. Visit the many local restaurants and bars lining the streets and enjoy their air conditioning and find some respite from the party storm looming outside. A hat and sunglasses are always a good idea, too.

The point of these festivals is to release, reconnect with your friends and community and get your dance on to some awesome bands like Sixteen Candles. Take some time to think about how you can make these summer parties just a little more healthful and you will have even better memories stored-up for the long and cold winter … yeah, I said it.

Chip Allman, CHHC

About Chip Allman, CHHC

Chip is a healthy lifestyle coach and owner of health and wellness company Naturally Fortified. He's a nutrition nerd at heart and plans to save the world one kale "chip" at a time!