The weather is warming and spring is finally here. This means one thing: Cottage season is upon us.

Getting away for the weekend is a great way to unwind from a full work week, but many of us may find it challenging to balance a healthy lifestyle with an indulging cottage getaway. What you choose to pack for the weekend can make or break your healthy routine. Michelle W. Book, in-house holistic nutritionist at the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), has a few simple tips to help keep you naturally healthy this weekend.

Indulge smartly

At the cottage it can be hard to stick to your regular routine, especially during happy hour on the dock. The good news is that there are lots of healthier snacking options. Trade in the potato chips for dehydrated or baked kale chips which deliver a salty crunch without the extra calories. At your local natural health retailer, you can also find chips made from beans, root veggies and even lentils or coconut.

Relaxing on the dock or around the campfire wouldn’t be the same without a drink to match the scene. Unfortunately, this indulgence is quite taxing on your liver. “The process by which your body breaks down alcohol uses up B vitamins,” says Book. “Try to keep your body well stocked with these through either a high-quality multi-vitamin or a B-complex supplement.”

Safe fun in the sun

A quality sunscreen is one of the most important things to pack when heading outdoors. “Always choose a natural sunscreen that contains zinc-oxide and titanium-dioxide, especially when selecting a product for your kids,” says Book. Sunscreens containing these ingredients stay on the surface of the skin without being absorbed, allowing them to actually reflect the potentially damaging UVA and UVB rays.

After a day in the sun, moisturizing is essential to soothe and heal the skin. Fortunately, there are a slew of options for effective, natural moisturizing oils. “I love to use coconut oil as a moisturizer,” says Book. “It’s rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that complement the skin’s protective barrier.”

A less familiar but equally excellent option is sea buckthorn oil, which is rich in nutrients and phytonutrients that have been shown to improve skin hydration and even promote healing. “There’s a wide selection of these products to explore, from the familiar aloe vera to the exotic argan oil,” says Book. “I recommend you try a few and see which one works best for you and your family.”

Cottage country has a great array of locally owned and family-run grocers and natural health food stores. Visit to find a local CHFA Member health food store near you and make your next cottage getaway a healthy one.

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