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Q: I’m outside a lot during the summer and have trouble tolerating the heat. I tend to get fatigued, irritable, and dizzy, and I often get headaches or become sick to my stomach. Are there any ways I can summerize my diet to help my body better tolerate the heat?
A: Most definitely! During the frigid temperatures of winter, it’s natural to want to eat hearty foods such as beef stew or roasted vegetables to keep the body warm and sustained. During the sweltering days of summer, on the other hand, it’s helpful to follow the cycles of nature and substantially lighten up what you eat and add more easy-to-absorb electrolytes and antioxidants to your diet.
Here are my top 5 tips to summerize your diet to better enjoy the warm weather:
1. Make main-dish salads a mainstay
Packing a bunch of seasonal produce into a salad is the easiest way to summerize your diet. Top a variety of different greens with a protein of your choice (e.g., hard-boiled egg, cooked chicken breast meat, or canned tuna, salmon, or beans) and assorted vegetables (e.g., red onion, cucumber, tomato, peppers, carrots, celery, and mushrooms) to quickly make the ultimate go-to, no-cook, light-yet-balanced meal.
Vary the salads you prepare by using different greens such as arugula; adding bits of fresh summer fruit, nuts, or seeds; and changing the flavor of your salad dressing. You can create an almost endless variety of flavorful—and nutritious—food combinations.
2. Eat more raw vegetables
There’s more to fresh, raw produce than just lettuce. Try shredding cabbage to make coleslaw—a great side dish for a 4th of July celebration. Or eat veggies such as carrots, celery, and red pepper strips; jicama sticks; or sliced cucumber as simple, no-fuss side dishes with a grilled, grass-fed burger. You can also try using in-season zucchini to make raw spiralized zucchini noodles to pair with tomatoes and pesto sauce.
3. Bite into juicy seasonal fruits
In her infinite wisdom, Mother Nature provides an abundance of seasonal fresh fruits that supply moisture, natural sweetness, and antioxidants. Even if you don’t eat much fruit during the rest of the year, it’s a treat to relish the flavors of the season and enjoy a nature-provided “dessert” of fresh watermelon, Bing cherries, grapes, mangoes, peaches, or assorted berries.
Eating any of these summer fruits is a great way to get extra moisture in your diet along with potassium, folic acid, and a variety of antioxidants that may help protect the skin against damage from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Studies suggest that watermelon, cherries, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are especially noteworthy foods for offering natural sun protection for the skin.
4. Try eating more in-season fish
During the summer, people are more apt to gravitate to fish as a light, easy-to-digest protein source—and a nice change of pace from the heavier meats of winter. Fish also doesn’t take long to cook, which is an added benefit when the temperatures soar and you don’t want to spend too much time in front of a hot stove.
The best fish to eat in the summer are those that are in season, such as mahi-mahi and yellowtail snapper on the East Coast, and Pacific cod, king salmon, wild Alaska salmon, Pacific halibut, albacore tuna, and yellowfin tuna on the West Coast. It’s also easy to use canned fish to make a tuna or salmon salad.
5. Get your electrolytes
When you’re outside on hot summer days, you’re more at risk of becoming dehydrated and depleted of electrolytes—minerals that assist in proper muscle function, fluid balance, and nerve activity. To prevent both dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that can lead to fatigue and the other symptoms, increase your intake of these important minerals during the summer, especially if you’re outside.
During the dog days of summer, I and many of my clients who live in hot climates have found that we don’t feel tired, worn out, or lightheaded after we make the simple switch to drinking more low-sugar, electrolyte-rich beverages such as cactus water or coconut water. You also can mix a powdered electrolyte supplement into water.
Here are a few favorite electrolyte replacers:
Vega Sport Hydrator in Lemon Lime and Berry
Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration Powder in Blue Raspberry, Lemonade, Raspberry, Grape, Orange, Cherry Pomegranate, Pink Lemonade, and Watermelon flavors
- 6 Must-Know Benefits of Eating Seasonally
- Salads: The Go-To Meal for Summer
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