Published June 19, 2013
Summer conjures images of barbecues and pool parties but too many charred burgers may leave you feeling drowsy and sweaty. Lightening up your diet can make extreme heat more bearable. Eating the wrong foods during the summer can make you feel run down, tired and sluggish, while eating seasonally can have a cooling effect on the body, which is ideal during scorching temperatures.
We are instinctively drawn to different foods during the cold and warm months. The draw of the different foods has little to do with calories and a lot to do with the warming or cooling effect they have on the body when we eat them.
A diet full of large quantities of meat and moderate sodium will have a warming effect on the body which is great during the cold winter months but not great during the summer.
Foods that need a lot of sunshine to grow typically contain high levels of potassium which, when eaten, can have a naturally cooling effect on the body, keeping you feeling light and airy instead of hot and sticky.
With such an incredible variety of food available, many of us have lost touch with the seasonality of food. The easiest way to avoid confusion about what’s in season during the summer is to visit your local farmer’s market. Traditional farmers can only grow what’s compatible with their environment, so this ensures you’ll be making the right, cooling, summer choices.
Salads, tomatoes, cucumbers and delicious summer fruits such as watermelons and berries are all great cornerstones to your summer diet. Switch warming meat dishes for cooling seafood choices and accompany them with seaweed products since they also have cooling properties.
If you’re looking for more substance, amaranth, barley and millet are the best summer grain choices and navy, kidney and lima beans all make great cooling salads.
Summer foods don’t have to be boring; fresh ginger, cilantro, marjoram, peppermint and even white peppercorn are cooling spices that add delicious flavor to summer dishes.
When it comes to cooling your insides, the lighter and quicker you cook your food the better. Try lightly steaming, quickly sautéing or sticking with raw vegetable dishes drizzled with olive oil. Cold soups such as gazpacho or cucumber soup can be an elegant treat on a hot summer night, and using yogurt as a base for cold cream sauces can easily add richness and depth of flavor to any dish.
Although ice-cold drinks sound refreshing during the summer, they will have you sweating again in no time. While they will provide a temporary cooling effect, sticking with room temperature beverages is ideal.
Instead of switching to an iced coffee, try kissing your coffee habit goodbye altogether. Instead, opt for herbal teas that have cooling properties even when warm or fresh fruit and vegetable juices at room temperature.