As I’m writing this, we are just coming off our first summer heat wave. For most of us, hazy, hot and humid is a combination that triggers another three factors when it comes to food…lazy, tired and disinterested in cooking.
Everything feels “off” when the temperatures rise. As someone that pays a lot of attention to how and why people eat, I understand that cravings dictate and meals are greatly affected by the weather. I even notice how shopping habits change. (Now you know how obsessed with food I really am!) Since I see everything through a food lens, it won’t surprise you that I have a plan for summer eating and ideas to make it easier.
First off, frequent eating is essential for sustaining energy whenever you are enduring any kind of stress (an important thing to keep in mind when work gets tough, sleep gets lost or the weather tries to break you down). Start with small, frequent meals and hydration—especially for small children, pregnant women, seniors and anyone else that is more vulnerable to hot summer conditions.
The key component to perfectly planned mini summer meals like these is in the combination of nutrients. Each time you eat, it is important to include a little carbohydrate (starch, fruit or milk/yogurt) and/or some protein and fat. I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but it is truly one of the most important components to sustaining energy. This combination may make this seem more than your typical snack (think fruit with 1-2 ounces of cheese instead of just fruit), but it actually helps you eat less each time. For example, if you aim for 1800 calories daily, you would break it down into 5-6 eating occasions. Not only will you not gain weight…you may actually lose.
During the hot summer weather, these little meals should satisfy, hydrate and hopefully even cool you down. I recommend a non-fat, plain Greek yogurt topped with one tablespoon of chopped nuts and ¼ cup fresh berries as a fine example of a highly satiating snack. Or try a plate of fresh greens topped with colorful chopped juicy vegetables, grilled chicken and ½ cup of beans; this also provides a variety of nutrients and both are three Guiding Stars combinations. Further enhance this mini meal by topping it with sliced cucumbers and three Guiding Stars hummus or two Guiding Stars guacamole. Or how about wrapping sandwiches in iceberg lettuce rather than bread (iceberg lettuce, while not rich in color, does have high water content) for a refreshing meal?
Satisfying Guiding Stars smoothies not only hydrate, but will sustain you too. Use frozen berries, non-fat milk or yogurt and add a bit of ground flax or natural nut butter. Lastly, a cold soup fills you up and adds to your fluid intake for the day. Try a spicy Gazpacho or refreshing fruit-based soup and round it out with cheese and crackers to complete your meal.
I know rising summer temperatures can be exhausting and uncomfortable. Give these tips a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with their refreshing results. One other thing: on those hottest days of summer, I try to remember our long winter. Remember how cold it was? And all those snow storms!
About our Consulting Dietitian
Allison Stowell MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and a working mom of two. Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight.
She also runs a successful private practice with offices in Danbury, CT, Bedford Hills, NY and Mahopac, NY. Since 2007, Allison has also worked with the grocer, Hannaford Brothers Corporation, as a Nutrition Coordinator. She provides complementary nutrition classes and tours, community workshops and one-on-one shopping experiences at their Carmel, NY location.
She joins the Guiding Stars team to help people in a number of sectors (grocery, hospitals, schools and universities) to understand how to use the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program to make healthier food choices.
Allison lives in Connecticut with her husband, two small children and her dog, Chase.