Whether you’re going to Coachella, Osheaga or The Governor’s Ball—among SO many more—you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the best time. But if you’re health-conscious, partying 24/7 can be a bit anxiety inducing. Sure, drinking lots of beer and eating all shades of beige sounds fun at first, but not when it comes time to hit the Porta-Potty or even your tent. You’re probably not thinking about how to feel good and stay healthy now, because who remembers the bad times? Let us remind you, gently, of all of this with our festival season health guide so you can stop tummy rumbles, headaches, food-comas and hangovers before they even have a chance to ruin your weekend.
Plan a routine and stick to it
If you plan on partying all weekend, you need the fuel to do so—and a can of cider doesn’t count (sorry). “Have regular balanced meals and some strategies around eating while you’re there,” says Casey Berglund, registered dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada, and founder of worthyandwell.com. “This can help reduce symptoms of hangovers or some of the other more dangerous side effects of binge drinking.” A lot of people consider calories to be calories—if you’re drinking lots of carb-heavy beverages, surely that’s enough for fuel, you may think. Not so much. Because there’s no protein or fibre in a drink, your blood sugar will spike and then dip, which means those happy vibes won’t last as long as you’d like. “Be mindful not to go more than three to five hours without eating, and try to keep as much routine in your eating pattern as possible, so you don’t wind up feeling sick.”
Choose your foods wisely
So we generally gravitate to the greasiest foods after a night of partying (post-party pizza is the best part of going out, isn’t it?). This pattern is magnified at festivals. “Look up what food vendors are there before you even go,” says Berglund. “If you go without any sort of plan, you’re just going to be making reactive decisions. It’s really easy to go to some of these events and not have any vegetables. But look for the places that will offer vegetables on the plate, good sources of lean protein and some whole-grain starches.” This could actually be as simple as having a salad with your burger, a green smoothie for breakfast or even some fresh fruit as a snack. “If you’re more mindful of the other choices, then you can have one meal or one treat food that’s less healthy, then that’s better than just saying the weekend’s a write-off and not bothering with anything healthful,” adds Berglund. Also take advantage of the convenient amenities provided at your festival. For example, Coachella offers a free supermarket shuttle bus from its campgrounds. Genius.
Hydration is key
Real talk: We complain of having to pee a lot when we start drinking alcohol. And when a trip to the bathroom can mean hearing your fave song from the Porta-Potty, it’s no wonder we shun that extra bottle of water. You may want to suck it up, though: “Aim to get at least a couple litres during the day, because it could be warm and you could be losing fluid,” says Berglund. “A good way to think about it is if you’re going to be drinking, alternate an alcoholic beverage with water. For every alcohol beverage, have a bottle of water or at least a big glass of water.” Coconut water is a good option to replace your electrolytes. Oh, and bring a plastic bottle (many festivals won’t allow metal or glass) and know where the water stations are ahead of time. Hydration packs (like Camelbaks) are allowed at Coachella, for instance, so if you’re not opposed to wearing a backpack, this could be your best option.
Don’t forget to pack this
Depending on which festival you go to, and whether you’re camping onsite or staying at a hotel, you could bring some healthy food options along to help keep you on track and save money. “When it comes to treating your digestion, somebody could bring ground flaxseeds or chia seeds and mix it with water,” says Berglund. “Or bring dried prunes or psyllium fibre, which is effective for both diarrhea and constipation.” And if you’re staying in a hotel or can bring along a cooler, your snack and meal options abound.
You can totally prevent heatstroke
The downside to spending all day outside is the risk of heatstroke, which causes your body to overheat and become unable to cool itself down, which is serious and requires immediate medical attention. Wear a hat, stay hydrated, use SPF and seek shade as often as possible. Also, know the signs of heatstroke: headache, nausea, vomiting, high temperature and confusion. “Regularly check in with yourself and your friends and look for cues: Are you hungry, thirsty or overwhelmed by the crowd?” says Berglund. “Know where the closest medical tent is.” Follow our festival season health guide tips, and you’re off to a good start.