We’ve collected a few tips and reminders to help make your celebrations during treatment and recovery happy and healthy.
Holidays, like the 4th of July, are a reminder of the great things worth celebrating in life. Family, friends, BBQ—there are lots of things to look forward to on Independence Day.
Letting loose during the holidays doesn’t have to derail your healthy habits. You don’t have to sacrifice your health to enjoy all of the spectacular 4th of July events. Plan ahead with our healthy tips to feel great while you celebrate the nation’s birthday.
Protect Your Skin
Cancer treatments can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays and increase dryness. Applying sunscreen will help protect your skin from these skin sensitivities.
Each year, there are more skin cancer cases than any other type of cancer, so it’s important to protect your skin during the summer months. No one knows more about avoiding sun damage than the Skin Cancer Foundation. During summer holiday celebrations, the foundation’s experts stress that you:
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Make sure your sunscreen is 30 SPF or higher.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Opt for water-resistant sunscreen, especially if you plan to swim.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen over all areas of the body exposed to the sun.
- Put sunscreen on 20-30 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
It’s also a good idea to avoid outdoor activity between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most intense.
Bring Games to a Backyard BBQ
Exercise is an integral part of the treatment and recovery process, but that doesn’t mean you have to log time at the gym. Being physically active in general is more important than counting gym visits.
A fun way to get exercise on the 4th of July is with a few backyard BBQ games. These games will get you moving without being too intense. Plus, they’re entertaining for both adults and kids.
Swimming is another fun physical activity. Just make sure you apply waterproof sunscreen 30 minutes before taking a dip, and reapply immediately after you're done.
Drink Plenty of Water
Independence Day is one of the hottest holidays of the year. Pair that with the fact that 75 percent of U.S. adults don’t drink enough water daily, and you’ve got the perfect scenario for dehydration—or worse, a heat stroke.
If you’re feeling thirsty, that’s a sign your body is already dehydrated. The second you start to sweat, you’ll lose even more fluids.
Before heading to the party, hydrate yourself by drinking a few glasses of water. It’s also a good idea to bring a water bottle with you, so you can keep drinking while you’re there. Eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day can also help, since they have high water content.
Eat Before You Go If You Have Limitations
During treatment, you may experience a number of side effects that affect eating habits and food option For instance, if you have mouth sores or a lack of appetite, social gatherings don't always offer the best food selections.
The simplest solution is to have a meal before you head to the party. This gives you full control over what you eat and helps ensure you’ll get the nutrition you need. Going to a party on a full stomach also helps you resist the urge to indulge in unhealthy meats and sweets.
Bring Healthy Food Options to the Party
Nutrition is critical for cancer survivors. Luckily, summer is the season for a variety of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. During the grill-friendly 4th of July holiday, it’s easy to work healthy options into the menu. Consider the tasty and healthy options below. Be sure to talk with your doctor first, in case you have any nutritional requirements or limitations.
- Make kabobs with loads of cherry tomatoes, red onions, whole mushrooms and bell peppers.
- Substitute beef with buffalo, turkey or salmon burgers.
- Pile veggies onto burgers and limit the cheese, bacon, mayo, etc.
- Keep burgers to a quarter pound for a healthier portion size.
- Cook corn in the husk on the grill. It’s delicious and amazingly easy.
- Use skinless chicken—half the fat is in the skin. If you prefer to use a marinade, remove the skin first to allow the flavor to soak into the meat.
- Try to avoid eating processed meats (like hot dogs) and red meats, which have been linked to colorectal cancer.
- Eat a salad before filling up on meats and desserts.
Eat lots of watermelon as well. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to protect against sun damage and cancer. This summer staple is also refreshing and hydrating since it's 91.5 percent water.
Make sure all fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly, and avoid food that’s been sitting out for more than an hour or two. Taking both of these precautions will help you avoid foodborne illnesses.
Reduce Cancer Risks Associated With Grilling
You may have heard about studies from The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) that have connected grilling to cancer. Two carcinogens from grilling meat at high temperatures could potentially increase cancer risks:
- PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These chemicals come from smoke absorbed by food.
- HCAs (heterocyclic amines). The mutagenic chemical compounds known as HCAs are produced during the cooking process. The formation of HCA can be decreased by using low-fat marinades.
The charring on grilled meat is evidence of these carcinogens, which can potentially alter DNA and increase the risk of cancer. The best way to prevent this is to cook meat slowly over a low flame. You can also precook meats in the microwave or on the stovetop to minimize time on the grill.
You can decrease the amount of smoke generated by trimming the fat off of meats before grilling them. Another way to protect food from PAHs and HCAs is to lay ventilated aluminum foil over the grill grates. No matter what meat and vegetables you grill, flip them often to minimize carcinogen formation.
Live in the Moment
The 4th of July is a time to reflect on the history of our country. It can also be an event that makes us think of the future. For many cancer survivors, thoughts of what’s down the road can be a source of stress.
This year, do your best to live in the present. Focus on the conversations you’re having, the interactions with loved ones and the enjoyment you’re feeling in that moment. The relaxation and happiness will reduce stress levels, which can actually boost your white blood cell count. Both of these physical reactions to having a good time are a huge benefit for your health.
Have a happy and healthy 4th of July!