Being too hot is the ultimate appetite killer.
When temperatures rise, full meals can become less appealing than lying in front of a fan and surviving on ice lollies.
However, your body needs food, too – to keep functioning to the best of its ability.
Since you sweat more when it’s hot, it’s really easy to dehydrate during heatwaves – which can make you very unwell.
Being dehydrated will make working, and daily activities in general, more difficult.
Farren Morgan, the head coach at Tactical Trainer, explains that water has a significant influence on the health of your brain, heart, and muscles – it also regulates your body temperature and transports vital nutrients within your body.
He adds: ‘The importance of remaining hydrated has become greater because we lose fluids and important nutrients like glucose, potassium, and sodium from sweating excessively.
‘This leads to the depletion of energy throughout the day and if they aren’t replenished by staying hydrated, your ability to regulate your body temperature will become impaired, your heart rate will increase, your mental function and cognitive abilities will decline, and your likelihood of suffering a heatstroke will increase.’
Make hydration a priority
It’s important to drink more water than we do on cold days.
But focusing on drinking water isn’t enough – you can ramp up your water intake further by picking specific foods to snack on.
In fact, the average person gets about 20% of water each day from food.
Health expert Lujain Alhassan, from health and wellbeing brand Exante, recommends snacking on fruit with high water content – including watermelon, cucumbers, peaches, cherries and berries.
She adds: ‘Ensure you drink lots of water frequently as well, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
‘If you are going to sit outside or travel to work, make sure to bring a water bottle with you, wear a hat or sit in the shade, and use sunscreen.
‘People with chronic conditions – such as diabetes, heart problems and Alzheimer’s – should be extra cautious as they are at higher risks of dehydration and heat exhaustion and heatstroke.’
Lujain also warns that fasting during a heatwave can be dangerous.
She adds: ‘Your body is already working extra hard to maintain internal temperature and sweat out the excess heat.’
‘Fasting can deprive your body of the essential nutrients it needs to help maintain body temperature and can increase your risk of dehydration, heatstroke and heat exhaustion.’
To kill two birds with one stone, Pauline Cox, a functional nutritionist to Wiley’s Finest supplements, suggests slicing up refreshing cucumber, mint leaves, basil leaves, pomegranate seeds and/or fresh berries such as strawberries and blueberries to add to water.
She says: ‘A few extras to your water not only makes it taste better, but also adds extra nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium and magnesium.’
Eat little – but often
Lillie Farrow, a chef, adds that it is ‘important to try and eat little and often to keep hydration levels up.’
Therefore, if you’re pushed for time, keep yourself going by grazing on fruit, vegetables, homemade dips like humous or pesto to add to salads or wraps.
‘Make sure you have things in that you enjoy. I personally love watermelon,’ Lillie says.
‘I buy some at the start of the week and cut it up, leaving it on a plate in the fridge for me to eat as and when I want.’
Nutrition expert Penny Weston, who runs the Made Wellness Centre in Staffordshire, also wants you to munch on these water-dense fruits and veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, watercress, apples, (which have 85.56g of water per 100g), celery, raw lettuce, courgettes, which are 90% water too.
She adds: ‘A surprising one is carrots, which although dense, are 90% water too. I also love strawberries, which are 91% water.
‘They have lots of fibre and antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, folate and manganese.
‘Eating strawberries regularly has been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce the risk against heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and some types of cancer.
‘Drinking coconut water is also helpful for hydration because it’s rich in water and electrolytes.’
Upgrade your salads
Salads are a staple on hot summer days, but avoid boring yourself with bog-standard lettuce, cucumber and tomato.
Instead, throw in nuts, seeds and carbs – like quinoa, rice or pasta to get enough carbs and fats.
Lillie also suggests roasting or chargrilling vegetables and throwing some fruit in there.
She says: ‘I recently made some lamb koftas with watermelon, mint and feta salad on the side.
‘There are some great alternative options to still intake all the goodness and nutritions you need with cold over cooked foods.’
She adds: ‘One of my favourite salads is a chicken salad. I roast the chicken on top of ciabatta torn up to create incredible croutons, it’s always a hit in our house with family and friends.’
For the veggies out there, try swapping out the meat in salad recipes for a soy, tofu or lentil meat alternatives.
There’s no need to spend all day making salad either.
‘You can chop a big salad to last a couple of days, just take out the portion you want and dress the dish as you and when you are eating it,’ Lillie says.
As a bonus, make fresh fruit and juice or yoghurt lollies with the kids to keep in the freezer.
Try lighter foods to help with appetite
A healthy rule of thumb is to eat when you are hungry, but heatwaves can mess with our appetites.
‘When you are feeling hot, your body is sweating out the heat and your brain pays less attention to your hunger, which can cause a dip in appetite,’ says Lujain.
It’s important we get our appetite going again, as we need food to lower the risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Eating light foods, like salads and fruits, can help pick your appetite back up so you can move onto denser dishes, Lujain says.
Cooling yourself down will allow you to identify your hunger cues quickly during a heatwave.
She continues: ‘Drinking water frequently will also help identify when you’re hungry as your body sometimes mistakes thirst for hunger. It is important you eat even when you are not feeling hungry to ensure you are getting enough nutrients and avoid dehydration.’
A tasty way to do that is to freeze your smoothies, Pauline says. They are a great way of getting nutrients into your diet when you don’t fancy eating.
She adds: ‘A chilled soup is a refreshing way of getting the goodness in without leaving us feeling hot under the collar.
‘Fresh, crisp salads are the perfect accompaniment to a simple summer lunch. Prioritising protein and accompanying vegetables and healthy fats from olives, olive oil, avocados and eggs is a simple way of making sure your body is getting the essential nutrients it needs.’
If in doubt, Pauline has one recommendation: add sauerkraut to your salads. The pickled cabbage dish is an ‘easy and affordable way to make sure you’re getting fibre, beneficial gut bacteria and vitamin C.’
Five top tips from registered dietitian Sarah Almond-Bushell:
1. It’s a myth that you must drink water to prevent dehydration – squash, juices, herbal drinks are all perfect hydrators.
2. Avoid too many caffeinated drinks. Caffeine acts as a diuretic meaning it makes you pee, so can actually dehydrate.
3. It’s thought that some foods can actually make you feel hotter. Those that take a lot of effort to digest like meat (meat sweats) give off more heat in the digestive process.
4. Likewise very cold foods like ice cream or lollies can make your body feel cooler in the short term but within a few minutes, you’ll produce more heat to warm you back up.
5. Eating foods containing chilli can cool you down. Chilli contains capsaicin which makes your brain send a message to your body saying you are overheating, causing you to sweat and cool down.
6. Menthol commonly found in peppermint tea, makes us feel cooler by increasing blood flow.
Load up on micronutrients and macronutients
Speaking of vitamins, Farren recommends choosing foods which contain high amounts of micronutrients and macronutients.
Macronutrient-rich foods – like fish, chicken, meat, and eggs – are rich in protein. Oats, bread, and rice are high in carbohydrates, and unsaturated oils like olive or canola, nuts, and avocados are good fats that contribute to a healthy diet.
Avocados are good for micronutrients too, as they have high levels of fibre, magnesium, Vitamin C, E, and B6.
Lentils provide protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and are slow-digesting carbohydrates capable of providing you energy over an extended period of time.
Finally, sweet potatoes are filled with Vitamin A, C, B6, magnesium, fibre, and provide sufficient amounts of energy seeing as they’re rich in carbohydrates.
Heatwave recipes to try:
Very berry smoothie recipe:
This smoothie recipe, from Pauline Cox, can be used in the morning, or frozen to make refreshing lollies – packed with fibre, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants.
- 300ml unsweetened nut milk of choice
- Small ripe avocado
- 1 teaspoon of tahini (sesame paste)
- A handful of fresh or frozen berries of choice (choose form raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and/or blackberries)
- 1 x heap tablespoon of collagen (optional for extra protein)
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Juice of 1 lime
- For additional sweetness, optional 1 tsp of raw honey
1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into lolly molds and freeze until firm and ready to eat.
Watermelon and feta salad recipe
Recipe from Lujain Alhassan.
- 1 large watermelon, chopped into cubes
- 1 block of feta cheese, chopped into cubes
- 1 red onion, sliced
- Mint leaves
1. Combine ingredients into a bowl and mix well. For the dressing mix in some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice for a simple vinegrette.
Easy smoothie bowl recipe
Recipe by Lujain Alhassan.
- 1 Handful spinach
- 1 small mango
- 1 tbsp protein powder
- ½ cup milk of choice (Reduce the amount for a thicker consistency)
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 banana
- ½ cup frozen berries
- 1 tbsp honey/agave syrup
1. Combine ingredients in a blender and mix till smooth, for extra sweetness top with your favourite granola or trail mix and some extra honey.
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