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Extreme heat can wreak havoc on the body, making it hard to do simple things like sleep and eat a normal diet. For many of us, a loss of appetite is one of the most frustrating effects of the balmy summer weather, though snacking on quick and perhaps unhealthy foods can also be problematic when the sun comes out. Eating a healthy diet is essential no matter what the weather is doing, but which meals should you be opting for during a heatwave? These are the best things to dine on when it feels ‘too hot’ outside.
What to eat during a heatwave
Staying cool and hydrated is a top priority in the heat, but it’s not just water that plays a part in keeping your body at a safe temperature.
According to qualified nutritionist, Kerry Torrens, foods account for around 20 to 30 percent of our fluid intake, so eating more hydrating produce is a great way to “up to H20”.
While Ice-cold lollies, slushies and ice cream might seem like appealing choices when you want to cool off, they may actually do more harm than good.
Instead, Kerry recommended loading up on naturally water-rich fruits and vegetables.
The best fluid-rich varieties include:
Stews, soups and porridge
Of course, it’s not just fresh produce that can be hydrating. Full recipes like stews and porridge are an excellent choice during a heatwave.
Soups and stews may sound like an odd meal to tuck into when it’s hot, but they can quickly be made to suit the summer by swapping out hearty ingredients for seasonal items.
For a light, hydrating dinner, switch beef and lamb for fresh fish to create the ultimate warm-weather stew.
Celery and fresh herbs like basil and parsley work well in place of winter greens.
Other hydrating heatwave meals include:
- Porridge with berry compote
- Porridge with fresh peaches
- Smoothie bowls – use spinach or berries as a base for extra water intake
- Braised chicken with tomatoes
- Summer minestrone soup – use any seasonal vegetables and your favourite pasta pieces
- Chicken and vegetable soup – stick to spinach, corn and courgettes for summer flavours
A hot meal can often feel too much in the heat, so it may sound even crazier to add spice too.
While it isn’t the obvious choice to stay cool in summer, Kerry explained that certain foods which ‘feel’ hot can actually make you feel more comfortable in a heatwave.
She said: “Thermogenic’ foods like spices and chilli increase body temperature as they kick-start our metabolism. This promotes sweating, which has a cooling effect.”
For a lighter take on the classic curry, opt for Thai-style flavours which are more fragrant than some creamy recipes.
Thai green curry paste can be easily mixed into coconut milk and loaded up with seasonal vegetables for a flavoursome summer dinner.
Use onions, lentils, peas, peppers, chillies and spinach in your homemade curries to stay cool while getting a good dose of your five a day.
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Eating a fresh salad is one of the obvious meal ideas when it’s hot outside, and there’s a good reason for it.
Not only are salads incredibly versatile, but they are also a great food to snack on if you have a smaller appetite in the heat.
Make up a large salad packed with lettuce, spinach, cucumber, celery, tomatoes and your favourite fruits to dive into throughout the day.
Whether you choose to eat it on its own or add it to pasta, meat or fish, there are so many benefits to dining on a bowl of fresh produce in the heat.
What’s more, salad items are ‘power packed’ with nutrients and are considered thermogenic too – perfect for staying cool and improving your metabolism.
To make your salad more interesting, why not try adding:
- Seeds – sunflower, flax or chia seeds work particularly well
- Low-fact cheese
- Herbs – lemon, garlic, ginger and basil complement salads well
- Sprouts for added crunch
The creamy milk taken from the coconut provides important minerals needed to maintain blood volume, regulate heart health, and prevent dehydration all of which are at risk in extreme heat.
Whether you enjoy coconut milk or water, adding this refreshing ingredient to your heatwave meal plan can really help.
You can use it in:
- Smoothies – just blend your favourite fruits with coconut milk or water for a refreshing and filling drink
- Porridge – switch your normal milk choice for a coconut alternative
- Curries – creamy curries can be made using coconut milk instead for a lighter taste
- Soups – sweet potato and coconut soup is a great choice for the summer
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