Eat Right and Stay Energized to Beat the Summertime Heat
By EvergeenHealth Dietitian Joanna Swain, RD, CDCES
Although temperatures across the Puget Sound region are moderate most of the year, periods of extensive heat in the summer are also becoming more common. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to stay healthy, comfortable and productive.
While we can't really control our body temperatures through the foods we eat, staying hydrated is the most important way to not overheat. We've all heard about the importance of adequate hydration in general, but during hot weather it affects how hot you feel. If you're ever in doubt, check out our guide to see how much water you should be drinking.
Hydrating foods like cucumbers, watermelons, radishes, celery, lettuce and tomatoes have high water content and can go a long way when paired with other fluids to keep you hydrated.
If you have trouble drinking plain water, you can add fresh lemon or lime to your water to give it some more flavor without adding any sugar. Carbonated water can also be a great way to add variety, and some fizz!
Summertime heat can cause some people to have less of an appetite but remembering to eat often is a good way to keep yourself energized. If you're struggling to stay active because of low energy in the heat, consider taking a look at what you're eating.
When planning your meals and snacks, be sure to include a carbohydrate and protein component in each of them.
You may need to replenish your electrolytes as well if you're exercising for longer periods of time or at higher intensities. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are excreted in your sweat. Electrolyte tablets or powder are a good way to replenish these nutrients lost in sweat. Sports drinks can also contain electrolytes but be sure to check the ingredients as they often have a lot of sugar, too.
What to Avoid
When it's hot out, you'll probably automatically avoid consuming certain things, like hot soups and hot drinks. You could also try limiting foods with high fat content such as fried or greasy foods. High fat meals tend to slow digestion and can make you feel sluggish.
Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, especially when it is hot outside, can also be helpful. These are both diuretics and increase the amount of fluid your body excretes.
If you can't cook without turning your apartment into a sauna, try cooking with smaller kitchen appliances like an instant pot, air fryer or cooking sous vide, which is when you vacuum seal your food and cook at a precisely regulated low temperature.
Grilling is also a great way to cook without heating your home. Expand your grilling repertoire beyond the classic hamburgers and hotdogs to include things like seafood, chicken and even vegetables. For dessert, you can grill your fruits until they're a nice golden color and top them with low-fat Greek yogurt.
Consider connecting with a dietitian as well. They can be a helpful next step for you or a loved one, offering individualized support and meal planning.
Looking for a cool, healthy snack? Try this simple Watermelon-Cucumber Salad recipe from the Food Network:
- Half of a red onion, sliced
- 4 cups watermelon, diced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- Handful of mint, thinly sliced
- Cashews, chopped
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Goat cheese
Soak 1/2 thinly sliced red onion in cold water. Pat dry 4 cups diced watermelon and 1 seeded and sliced cucumber; toss with a handful of thinly sliced mint. Drain the onion, squeeze dry and add to the salad along with some chopped cashews. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon; season with salt and toss. Top with crumbled goat cheese.