Foods to eat (and avoid) when temperatures rise…

Summer 2013 has certainly been a memorable one; long, hot, sunny days, punctuated by dramatic thunderstorms and tropical downpours. Whether you’ve been enjoying the sporadic sunshine in the UK, or have jetted off somewhere exotic with family or friends, you’ve no doubt heard a fair bit of grumbling about the weather in true British style. So before you get all hot and bothered, be sure to check out these chilled-out foods, which will help to lower your temperature so you can enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

Chill Out

Melon
If you’re looking longingly at that ice cream on a hot summer’s day – well, stop. Sorry. Ice cream is only cool initially and will actually warm you up (more on that later). Plus, we all know it is not one of the most nutritional options out there. Melon, on the other hand, will leave your sweet tooth satisfied and your body refreshed, as its high water content means it will replenish your water levels and leave you feeling hydrated and healthy.

Try: Melon Soup
This is one of the easiest soups you will ever make. Just cut up a sweet Honeydew melon and blitz it in a blender with a few ice cubes. It’s a delicious starter or palate-cleanser if you’re having a garden party; a sprig of mint will complete the dish and provide added zing.

Nettles
In the summer heat, many offices are cooled to a bearable level using air-con. However, air-conditioning units can make you feel run-down as they put stress on your immune system.

Nettles are one of nature’s best when it comes to boosting your immune system, and have been linked to improvements in digestion, as well as being a possible beneficial aid for allergies. So, a simple cup of nettle tea in the morning can help to tackle pretty much all the discomforts hot weather brings, from irritating hayfever to feeling less-than-lively after a day spent in an air-conditioned office.

Try: Picking your own
Pick your own nettles (with a pair of gloves on, of course) to make some nettle tea. All it takes is a handful of nettles steeped in boiling water and then strained. Don’t worry – as soon as the water hits the leaves, it will remove the sting. Alternatively, you can pick up some nettle teabags if you don’t fancy foraging.

Salad
Green leaves and vegetables contain lots of water to keep us hydrated, and are packed with plenty of nutrients to keep you feeling tip-top too – including calcium, which is proven to help regulate body temperature. Salads are also easy to digest as they are mainly water and fibre; and the easier food is to digest, the more stable your body temperature will remain.

Try: Growing your own
Whether you have a little window ledge or a huge greenhouse, it’s so easy (not to mention much cheaper) to grow your own salad. Some of the easiest fruit and veg to grow in the UK are tomatoes, onions, peas and kale – sounds like a good salad to me.

Spices and Peppers
It might sound mad, but hot, spicy food can actually keep you cool. There’s no fancy reason behind this, just the simple fact that spicy chillies and peppers will make you perspire, thus cooling the skin – which makes sense when you think about it. In fact, some of the spiciest cuisine originates from the hottest climates on the globe. Doesn’t seem quite so crazy now, does it?

Try: Eating curry in front of a fan*
If you can do this without getting in a right old mess, you’ll be thankful for it; the fan will evaporate your perspiration faster than the gentle English breeze and you will feel cooler quicker.

*Wearing white clothes not recommended.

Temptation

While you’re probably not craving a full roast dinner in this weather, there are also plenty of other foods to avoid too – although they may in fact be the first things you reach for when the sun comes out.

Alcohol
Sipping a cold beer at a barbecue or a lovely glass of white wine in the garden may seem like the perfect way to cool down, but alcohol is dehydrating and will raise your body temperature. You may have noticed feeling a little flushed when you drink. This is caused by a widening of the blood vessels, and results in a feeling of warmth flowing through your body – certainly not what you want on a hot day.

If you are going to enjoy a beverage in the heat, make sure you drink lots of water too, as you don’t want a dehydration-induced headache to put a dampener on a sunny day.

Ice Cream
I always head straight for the ice cream as soon as a glimmer of sun peeks through our grey skies, yet, strangely, eating this super-cold snack may not have the desired effect. Not initially, of course, and that’s what we crave – the instant cooling sensation as we take the first bite. But because ice cream contains quite a lot of fat, it takes more energy for our bodies to process, consequently causing a rise in body temperature. Melon it is, then.

Emma Cullen

Emma is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker that has been released into the wild

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