The humidity this summer has been brutal in Chicago. July and August are always hot around here, but with extra moisture in the air, I feel like I start sweating as soon as I step outside. Along with feeling extra sticky, taking twice as many showers as usual, and cranking the air conditioning, the heat has another effect on me…I tend to lose my appetite.
Years ago, I used to love this phenomenon. I was constantly trying to avoid food, and the appetite suppressing effect of high temperatures made it that much easier. However, just because my appetite was decreased for a day or two didn’t mean that my body didn’t feel the effects of food deprivation: after a few days of under-eating, my appetite would increase. Feeling totally out of control, I’d fight the hunger for as long as I could until I finally gave in and ate an extra snack. The unplanned calories would throw me for a loop, and I’d often end up binge eating later.
Nowadays, I know that even if my appetite is low, it’s probably not the best idea to skip meals or snacks. I also know that I’m usually more active in the summer months, so it’s not likely that my appetite is low because I don’t need the energy. Even after years of being an intuitive eater, the feeling of extreme and persistent hunger is still pretty unnerving, so I try to take steps to avoid it by feeding myself regularly. When I don’t have an appetite, this can be a little challenging. But I’ve found ways to sneak in extra energy in healthy ways to prevent compensatory episodes of overeating. Intuitive eating sometimes means eating when I’m not hungry, yet.
Eating in the Heat: Tips to Nourish
Smoothies! I don’t usually like to drink smoothies because they make me really cold. But on a hot summer day, there’s nothing more refreshing than a frozen drink! I usually make a fruit and yogurt smoothie with fruit juice and a handful of spinach. (Yes, it’s okay to use fruit juice. No, it’s not unhealthy!)
Juice! Vegetable juice tastes good and is easy to swallow. If my stomach doesn’t feel like it can handle a salad or steamed broccoli, I find that juice is a great way to get the nutrition I know I need without it feeling uncomfortable. It’s easy to make your own, but you can find pre-made blends at pretty much every grocery store.
Ice Cream! This might not seem like the most effective way to fuel our bodies, but it’s certainly delicious! Ice cream is also light on my stomach, and can often cool me off enough to where I’m able to feel hungry for a more balanced meal. I generally feel my best when I eat sweets after I have eaten something with protein. (Otherwise, I get a sugar crash). But if I’ve been struggling to eat all day, sometimes the sugar crash helps me feel hunger again!
Do you lose your appetite in the summer? How do you take care of yourself when you don’t feel like eating but you know you need to?