Summer health and nutrition: Here’s what you need to know

Keeping fit in summers should be a part of our personal and professional lives, and nutrition is an integral part of that goal. Health experts usually stay on top of food-related queries during the season.

But, is the summer of 2022 any different? Certainly. Having spent two years in a pandemic, people are planning vacations, social gatherings, and weekend dinners. As a result of this relaxed attitude, they are losing sight of the importance of nutrition. This article will provide easy-to-follow tips to help you keep your health and nutrition in check during summers.

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Impact of summer on our eating habits

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Are our dietary patterns impacted by changing seasons? The answer is yes. As season changes, we also tend to change our levels of physical activity and eating habits. There is usually a thermic nature to summer appetites. The hotter the weather, the more we want to cool off. During summer, the body craves more water, liquid, and lightly-cooked foods to cope with water loss through sweat and to maintain healthy digestive functions. Psychologist C Peter Herman from the University of Toronto supported this assertion and mentioned that in hot climates, people tend to eat less and prefer ‘cooler’ foods.

This summer, in India, milk-based ice creams and dairy-based beverages registered a growth of over 50 per cent, according to a report published on May 2, 2022. As a result of lockdowns, the closure of local markets, and myths linking ‘cold’ with Covid-19 infections, these beverages and ice cream saw a slump in sales in the past two seasons.

Summer nutrition, however, is more than just ice cream, fruit juices and cool drinks. A significant amount of refined white sugar is also present in these foods and beverages, which is harmful for health if consumed for extended periods.

Summer nutrition is more than just ice cream, fruit juices and cool drinks. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Top five nutrition tips for summer

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet during summer, as there are many temptations. Regardless of whether it is lip-smacking food on the beach, sugary ice cream, or processed foods, they all save time in the kitchen. Eating well in summer, however, doesn’t mean sacrificing tasty foods or avoiding stress.

Water, infused water, and watery foods

Drinking enough water is important. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, dry skin, lips, and mouth. Drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. Use a reminder app if need be. Drink a cold soda with lots of ice and a slice of lemon to avoid monotony. Consider drinking water that are infused with herbs and fruits such as mint, basil, cucumber, pineapple, nectarine, citrus fruit, and berries. Even freezing some fruits, breaking them into pieces, and using them as ice can be considered. These are great alternatives to sugary cold drinks or ice cream.

Include foods with 95 per cent in-built water such as cucumbers, watermelon, celery, lettuce, spinach, muskmelon, tomato, etc. in your diet.

Eating light, frequent meals

Indigestion and loss of appetite are common symptoms of hot weather. On a hot day, people often complain about abdominal discomfort after a large meal. To prevent stomach aches, eat light, less-spicy meals. In social gatherings, choose healthier foods. While preparing salads, include plenty of raw fruit and vegetables that are in season. If you have kids at home, keep pre-cut fruit in the refrigerator to encourage them to eat healthier snacks.

While preparing salads, include plenty of raw fruit and vegetables that are in season. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Eat variety from all food groups

During summer, eat balanced, versatile meals. Choose easy-to-digest foods from each food group. For example, choose lean meat over red meat, fish with no skin over fatty fish, and low-fat dairy over full-fat milk products. Eat colourful seasonal vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains for optimum fibre and micronutrients.

Enjoy refreshing delicacies at home

Summertime is perfect for ice cream, but not all ice creams are good choices. A typical serving of milk and chocolate ice cream contains a great deal of calories and fat and is low in other essential nutrients. It can be avoided by making your own mashed fruit and yoghurt ice cream using suitable freezer shapes. A homemade fruit ice cream is not only healthy, but also a fun activity to do with family, particularly with young kids.

Shop smart, dine smart

Remember the balanced plate guidelines when dining out. Choose meals that are baked, grilled, or sautéed. While shopping at the grocery store, be sure to read nutrition labels carefully before purchasing a packaged food product. Note the ingredient list, calorie per serving, presence of trans fat, and amount of salt in each product.

Summer is the ideal time to enjoy a variety of meals. Be mindful of your diet. The above guidelines will help you get the most out of the season.

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