Easy eating in summer. When a heat wave has descended, especially one that causes high levels of humidity, you and your family may find that your usual fare has little appeal.

Heavy, hot, greasy food when the thermometer goes through the ceiling can make you feel dull and sluggish, and that bowl of soup that was so tempting when it was cool, now makes you turn away in disgust.

Adjusting your eating habits to the hot weather can make meals not only more enjoyable, but also healthier overall, especially if you are active outdoors.

Staying Well Hydrated and Cool

It’s no secret that summer encourages outdoor activity. Whether you’re heading to the beach, bicycling, running, or playing tennis, it’s likely that you will be much more active now than you were when rain and chilly temperatures kept you inside.

However, summer, and especially a summer heat wave, can cause problems with dehydration.

You will lose more water during hot weather simply because you sweat more. Sweating is the body’s cooling mechanism, and it works well as long as you provide a replacement for the water that has been lost.

Drinking fruit or energy drinks can help to maintain the proper electrolyte balance, but there are also foods that will help to prevent dehydration.

  • Fresh fruits are not only light and delicious to eat when it’s hot, but they also contain plenty of water as well as vitamins and minerals. Melons, berries, and other summer fruit offer a sweet treat on a muggy day, and children enjoy these as much as they do candy or cake.
  • Salads made from fresh summer vegetables not only cool you down, but they supply you with good nutrition and fiber. You can even make a salad a more complete meal by adding chunks of cheese or cold chicken or ham. Stay away from the heavier creamy dressings and stick with simpler ones based on olive oil, vinegar, and spices.
  • Soups don’t have to be hot, there are also cold soups that make a delicious addition to your evening meal. Cold soups can be based on vegetables such as a gazpacho made with tomatoes or a white gazpacho made with cauliflower and cucumber. Fruit soups can include a soup made with melon or a fancy strawberry and orange soup topped with yoghurt.
  • Fish often makes a much lighter food to enjoy during hot weather than roast meats. However, you can easily do the cooking in the evening when the temperature outside is falling a bit and then serve cold meat the next day. Cold roast beef or chicken makes an excellent lunch or dinner item.
  • And, although iced beverages will cool you down quickly, the acute temperature differential can result in sweating soon afterwards. Drinks served at room temperature will actually help to keep you cooler than very cold ones.

Food Safety During Summer

Cookouts, barbecues and picnics all add to the fun of summer eating, but it’s wise to make sure that your summer food is safe to eat. Setting a potato salad out on a table for hours will result in a high bacterial count that could cause someone to become ill.

A good rule of thumb to follow is: Keep cold foods cold and keep hot foods hot. Bacteria count doubles in as little as 20 minutes for food that is left out, and any food that has been sitting on a table for an hour in the heat should be discarded (don’t give it to the dog, he or she can become sick, too).

Eat light and eat safe and you’ll get more enjoyment out of summer, even during a heat wave.