Many people tend to miss out some meals because of the hot weather or even eat types of food that they think will help them cool down in the summer and be sated like fast food snacks or even sugary alternatives like ice cream or just eat fruit. However, not all of their nutritional choices are sound.
Marwa Nouh is a clinical nutrition consultant who gives a list of the types of unhealthy food to avoid in the summer. “Keep away from the types of food with a high amount of sugar, salt or fat,” she says adding that more vegetables and fruits should be eaten during the summer because they have a high percentage of water in them so they help hydrate the body and give it the vitamins and minerals it needs that it loses during perspiration and they help nuturalise the temperature of the body.
“Too much caffeine and too much salted food makes the body get rid of the water in it and this leads to dehydration. The same thing happens to people who drink dark coloured fizzy drinks that also contain a high percentage of caffeine which leads to a state of diuresis (excessive urination) and this causes a state of dehydration,” explains Nouh.
The food rich in vitamins and minerals are fruits in general and vegetables.
“The body loses a lot of minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These could be mostly found in fruits and vegetables,” she adds. Fruits that grow in the summer are usually full of water like watermelon and melon, these have a high percentage of water that the body needs during summer.
To overcome the hot weather first and foremost, it is important to drink water which is, unfortunately, mostly forgotten by many people unless they are thirsty. When the body reaches this point it means that it is on the verge of dehydration. It is a must that the body is supplied with 2 to 3 letres of water per day according to the weight of a body. This must be a routine whether a person feels thirsty or not, says Nouh. Not drinking enough water causes a headache and a state of fatigue.
Nouh acknowledges that there are some people who lead a fast lifestyle and are unable to take care of themselves and prepare healthy meals during the hot weather especially if they are on vacation. However, there is still an opportunity to eat healthy. “If you have no time to cook and you usually eat in a restaurant it is best to eat salads that are now sold in all restaurants, even the fast food restaurants. Eat one or two types of salads to help avoid the effects of the hot weather. As nutritionists we advise people to start their meals with salads even in the winter so they restore the vitamins, minerals, and fibers to their bodies,” she says. “Salads also help make you feel full so you do not eat too much unhealthy food like fatty foods or ice cream especially in the hot weather. It also helps prevent weight gain,” she adds.
“The best drinks to drink during the summer are water and sugar free fruit juice because sugar is not beneficial, not healthy, and causes weight gain. We should keep away from packed juices and fizzy drinks these cause unnecessary weight gain and cause diuresis and dehydration,” says Nouh. She advises people to resort to natural ingredients in their juices . “The drinks used in Ramadan that are made of natural ingredients like hibiscus, doum palm, and tamarind are good alternatives because they are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help cool down the body. We can also determine how much sugar we apply to it. We could also use a safe alternative to sugar,” she says.
Some people resort to eating fruits during the summer and stop eating any other types of food on the grounds that they can’t eat any cooked food in the hot weather. This is not a good idea according to Nouh. “ I am against eating one type of food because God created many types of food with many benefits in them. So eating one type of food would mean missing the benefits in the others. So just as the body needs the nutrients in fruits like dates it also needs the protein that is responsible for formation of hormones, enzymes, and renovation of the cells in poultry, meat, or even proteins from plants,” she says. In the case of people who are unable to eat conventional foods with proteins in the summer, they could make salads and add chick peas or pieces of chicken or meat or even shrimps to them that could be cooked but left to cool down so they can eat them.
“People tend to eat in restaurants or eat fast food and depend on carbohydrates and so miss the type of food that is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that is responsible for providing them with energy that is mostly found in fruits and vegetables,” she says. It is good for them to drink natural juice which will provide them with these nutritional needs as well as energy. Yoghurt is also good in the summer which is full of pro-biotics that decreases thirst and hydrates the body. It is also very important for gut health and general body health and immunity. Milk is also a good option during the summer.
Those with hypotension (low-blood pressure) should eat something high in sodium during breakfast like pickled olives which is rich in healthy fats and sodium. Most of those who suffer from hypotension do not drink enough water. So it is advisable for them to drink more water.
As for those suffering from anemia, they should not drink tea for two hours after each meal because the tartaric acid in the tea prevents the body from absorbing the iron in the food, says Nouh.
“Because our lifestyles are quick we usually depend on fast food that mostly has no nutrients Iron is mostly present in animal proteins as well and vegetables, fruits, and legumes. So if a person eats healthy for two days and eats unhealthy meals throughout the week then he will surely lose iron. So they have to be on the safe side and eat fruits, vegetables, meat, and legumes to ensure that the body gets its nutritional needs while decreasing the intake of carbohydrates,” comments Nouh. . The same goes for those who are on a diet. They should eat a healthy diet not just depend on one type of fruit or cut the carbohydrates altogether or eat less vegetables. The type of diets that cancel any group of food will cause a person to lose a lot of nutrients.
Nouh says that the most notorious bad habits of some people during meals is that they do not eat any fruits or vegetables, especially teenagers and children. Instead of vegetables they eat carbohydrates like spaghetti or French fries and eat sweets like donuts, cake and candy instead of fruits. The problems they face is that they will be subjected to diabetes disease or insulin resistance. This is caused by eating unhealthy food. Second is that most of them become anemic due to the lack of nutrients and are usually out of energy and are unable to focus at school and can not sleep well.
“Unfortunately, people do not understand the importance of eating healthy food until they become ill. We find people who look in good shape but are not lively,” she says.
Nouh gives some practical examples of healthy snacks that give more energy during the summer. “dried fruits and nuts are very handy snacks during the summer. So if, for example, a person can not eat a plate of watermelon during an outing, he can take a bag of dried fruits with him. This will give him energy and is a healthy snack. Nuts are full of healthy fats and are full of vitamins, minerals, and fibers and give us energy. We could carry them in our bags and they will not go bad because of the hot weather. In a correct nutritional plan we do not deprive patients of anything. We could allow them to eat ice cream but with a certain amount and in a certain frequency. “ she says.
Nouh gives some tips to enjoy a cool summer:
- Drink more water. Some people forget to drink water which is the worst thing you could do.
- Food with too much sugar, carbohydrates, or caffeine could cause dehydration so we must eat or drink them moderately.
- Summer is a good time to practice sports especially walking that increases the immunity of the body and improves it’s health. It preserves the muscle bulk of the body which preserves the skin temperature and increases fat burning.
- We must make sure that our body is getting the nutrients necessary for proper functioning and this will be through a balanced diet that includes salads, vegetables , fruits, and meat that should be eaten 3 to 4 times per week.
- Drink natural fresh juice instead of fizzy drinks. This way, you will have better health during and after the summer.