How to enjoy a holistic-style summer in Toronto

Toronto comes alive in the summer. I scarcely leave the confines of my house during the colder months save to hit the studio or to do a grocery haul, but during the warmer months I try to spend as little time indoors as possible. Patios, dinners al fresco, outdoor movies, beach days, afternoons at Centre Island, pic-nics, Shakespeare in the park, waterfront bike rides, bonfires, or just hanging out in my backyard reading - my heart be still. At the same time, it's easy to get carried away. Here's some of my strategies for staying healthy during your summertime socializing.

1. Kombucha. During the warmer months I generally abstain from buying alcohol, since chances are good I'll find myself on a patio fairly often. Instead of carting liquor to house parties, I bring one or several bottles of kombucha and go sober. Drinking kombucha feels celebratory since it's naturally effervescent like sparkling wine, and comes in an assortment of flavours. My favourite storebought brand is GTs, which has about 4g of sugar and 60 calories per 500ml. Kombucha also naturally relaxes the body and supports good digestion and immune function.

2. A refillable water bottle. Hydration is always important, but especially so during the warmer months. I like Swell bottles, but any stainless steel bottle will work. You can fill it with plain filtered water, unsweetened herbal ice tea (I love rooibos during the summertime) or try my recipe for Inflamade. Keep it at your desk and bring it with you.

3. A high-quality sunscreen. I avoid commercial sunscreens because they are so toxic. Avobenzone is typically included to protect the skin from UVA rays, except it breaks down in the sunlight and has been linked to cancer. Other chemicals are then added to stabilize avobenzone, like oxybenzone, which behaves like estrogen, may alter sperm count, and has been linked to endometriosis. Other chemicals to watch out for include homosalate (endocrine disruptor), octocrylene (linked to skin allergies), and octisalate. This one, locally produced by Graydon, is available for purchase at the Health Hut.

4. Nutritious snacks. Friends often stop by unexpectedly during the summer, so I like to keep some healthy snacks on hand. Raw vegetables with a favourite dip (I like guacamole, baba ganoush, and homemade hummus), fruit kabobs or cubed fruit, spiced and roasted chickpeas, homemade popsicles (green smoothie, herbal tea with fruit, coconut water with fruit), air-popped popcorn drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with nutritional yeast and Himalayan pink sea salt, and seeds and nuts are all personal favourites. Others include Living Intentions (activated and seasoned nuts and seeds), Live Organics (crackers, kale chips, etc.), and Nud Fud crackers.

5. Ramp up produce intake. We're so fortunate in Toronto to have access to so many amazing markets and an abundance of affordable and high-quality produce. I do my best to eat well and exercise regularly all year long, but the summer months make it easier than ever to get moving and to choose fresh food. I naturally switch out heavier ingredients for lighter fare. Try exchanging your morning bowl of oatmeal for a vegetable-packed smoothie, having a big salad for lunch, and loading up on the vegetables at dinner.

Sarah Berneche

Sarah Berneche, 14 Denison Square, Toronto, ON, M5T 1K8