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3 Dangerous Mistakes You're Making While Dining Outside

Here's exactly how you can stay healthy and safe this summer while eating outdoors.
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Outdoor dining is happening pretty much everywhere in the U.S. right now, considering it's one of the only ways for restaurants and bars to operate safely during the pandemic. However, with the option of heading indoors for a meal disappearing in many states, the weather has become even more of a make-or-break factor when it comes to having an enjoyable experience.

Rain, for instance, can cause a restaurant to close down for several hours or even the whole day, and extreme heat this summer is also causing problems for both restaurant staff and customers. For example, servers are required to wear masks, which can make working long shifts in the heat even tougher.

Diners are also at risk of suffering from heat exhaustion or dehydration while sitting outside and should take precautions accordingly. Here are three mistakes that you may be making while dining outdoors right now that could be putting you at risk of other ailments outside of coronavirus.

1

You're ordering a lot of alcohol.

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As heat waves continue to plague the country, it's important to remember that while dining outside is safer than dining indoors during a pandemic, it also means you're spending more time in above-average temperatures. This can especially become an issue if you're ordering round after round of cocktails before your meal even arrives. Drinking on an empty stomach can dehydrate you much quicker than if you've recently eaten. This is because around a majority of the alcohol is absorbed by the small intestine and then transferred directly into your bloodstream, meaning you'll feel the loopy, dehydrating effects much faster.

According to the University of California, Santa Cruz, peak blood alcohol content could be as much as three times higher in someone who was drinking on an empty stomach in comparison to someone who drank water or ate a meal before or while drinking alcohol. The last thing you want to do is become dehydrated during a heat advisory, so make sure to limit the number of drinks you have, and eat something while drinking.

2

You're not drinking enough water.

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Regardless of whether you're drinking alcohol or not, you should be regularly drinking water during your meal, especially when it's above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, the minimum amount of water women should drink in a day is eight cups of water or 64 fluid ounces, and for men, it's 12.5 cups or 100 fluid ounces of water. However, when it's hot outside, that amount should increase. There are several side effects of not drinking enough water, the most common of which include nausea, muscle cramping, and constipation. Remember to routinely drink water as you're dining outdoors this summer!

3

You're not wearing a mask while speaking with a server.

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One of the biggest mistakes you can make while dining at a restaurant is not wearing a mask when you're not eating or drinking. The most important time to wear a mask while dining outside, however, is when conversing with a server. Remember, restaurant staff are putting their lives on the line so they can continue to make an income and serve you a meal. And, they don't have a choice on whether or not they want to be wearing it.

"Imagine being stuck in a forced interaction with a stranger where you cannot use your given industry talent of facial expression, charm, wit, or any other trick to communicate with an already irritated, inconvenienced customer," Candis Larsen, general manager at Steamers Seafood Cafe in Tacoma, Washington told Restaurant Business. "Then add heat, sweat, humidity, and the 20 extra steps of service involved to stay within the COVID guidelines for restaurants. Oh, and don't forget, literally drinking your own lip sweat."

For more, check out 15 Health Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make at Restaurants.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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