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  • Writer's pictureJane Webber Nutrition

Summertime and why your eating habits change

I don’t know about you, but I start to crave certain foods in the summer. Yes I don’t crave a warming soup and prefer lighter salads, but also I fancy cold fizzy drinks (which I don’t normally want), plus the lure of ice cream is often one I can’t ignore

It seems common knowledge that hot weather is a time for lighter food – nobody fancies a heavy stew during soaring temperatures.

But why exactly do we lean towards eating certain things we would never dream of having in colder months?

Is it out of habit or are our food fancies dictated to us by our cravings?

There is a scientific reason why our eating habits change with the seasons.

When the weather is hot, we naturally want foods and drinks that will cool us down and hydrate us.

The hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating our temperature and hunger, is very busy in the summer months.

When the weather is warm, the hypothalamus is busy helping to keep us cool.

As we digest food, it generates heat, so the hypothalamus suppresses our appetite to prevent more heat from building up in our bodies.

It replaces hunger with thirst to protect us from dehydration. That’s why we reach for something cold rather than a large snack or meal. Plus, we are more active in the warmer months, so we tend not to be weighted down with heavy meals.

Lighter foods are more appealing to us as they won’t generate the extra heat to digest them. Plus, they are more likely to hydrate us.

Healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein in salads, smoothies and infused waters are a great way to keep hydrated.

But be aware of choosing less healthy options too many times, such as ice cream, sugary drinks, fast foods, and other ultra-processed snacks.

Should we follow our cravings or not?

Well depriving yourself of the occasional ice cream or fizzy drink isn’t sustainable in the long run, but wise swaps will also help our bodies' cravings.

Swap the fizzy drink with infused water.

Brightly coloured salads with fish or chicken rather than a chicken burger.

First and foremost, nothing should ruin the joy of having an ice cream in the sunshine, but we should also be mindful that our body's getting what it needs in the hot weather.

What else prompts the brain to want different foods during the year?

Well, it is rare to hear the ice cream van in the middle of December, so our brain links ice cream with warmer weather.

Alternatively, a cold beer in the pub garden in the middle of Winter is a rare occurrence, so you associate cold beer with being out in the sunshine.

So that’s the reason why the seasons like Summer and Winter influence our eating habits.

Have a lovely summer to you all.

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