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10 Tips for a Healthy Memorial Day Weekend
This weekend is all about fun in the sun. Whether you’re heading to the beach, a lake or a backyard picnic, be sure to cover up to protect your skin against sunburn and pesky bug bites.
As your first line of defense, shirts, hats, shorts and pants provide the best protection from both UVA rays and insect bites. Your arsenal should include a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt, long pants, a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses to block UVA radiation (which causes cataracts) and – don’t forget your lips – SPF lip balm.
Before you head to the store, download EWG’s convenient Skin Deep and Food Scores apps to your smartphone. These easy-to-use interactive tools highlight the best and worst products and offer a host of tips to help you find better options.
As a rule of thumb, avoid the sun when ultraviolet radiation peaks between 10 am and 4 pm – and seek shade whenever possible.
Here are more EWG tips for a healthy Memorial Day Weekend:
To avoid sunburn and skin damage, picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella and take a canopy to the beach. If you’re going to apply sunscreen, use EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens to find one that’s right for you and your family. My colleagues and I scrutinized 1,700 products, including sunscreens, SPF-rated moisturizers and lip balms, and showed that they’re not all created equal. Look for products that:
- protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
- don’t contain Vitamin A.
- have an SPF greater than 15 but less than 50.
This weekend, many families and friends will gather around a table or blanket to enjoy a feast. Everyone wants to eat healthier, but it’s not always easy to know how. That’s where EWG’s Food Scores: Rate Your Plate database comes in. As you walk the store aisles or compile your shopping list, Food Scores will guide you to greener, cleaner food choices. Keep in mind – less is more: the lower the score, the healthier the food.
- As you write down your shopping list, check out EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The Dirty Dozen are apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. In government testing, the results were positive for at least one pesticide residue for 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines.
- Also whip out EWG’s Clean Fifteen. This list includes produce least likely to have pesticide residues, including avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
- Eat more whole fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists recommend that adults and children consume at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables daily. Be sure to load up on early-season corn and fresh pineapple.
Bug bites can be serious business. In 2013, West Nile virus – carried by mosquitoes – infected more than 5,674 Americans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme disease, spread by ticks, has more than doubled over the last 15 years, with 27,203 confirmed cases in 2013. These illnesses and other pest-borne diseases can have serious and occasionally life-altering consequences. Your first line of defense is to avoid areas where these bugs are prevalent. Your second line is to cover up. If you’re going to use an insect repellent, visit EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents before you buy. Also:
- Wash your hands after applying repellent and be sure to wash repellent-coated skin and clothes at the end of the day.
- Use nets and fans over outdoor eating areas.
- Don’t use bug repellent on infants younger than 6 months. Instead, cover strollers and baby carriers with fine netting.
- Check your kids thoroughly for ticks every night and remove them properly.
This is the perfect time to stock up for a skin-safe summer of outdoor fun. What are some of your healthy tips for a safe Memorial Day weekend?