The UK is notorious for its early meal times (just try mentioning when you have dinner to someone in Spain – they’ll laugh), but having a big meal at 5pm while it’s nearing 30 degrees outside sounds like a bad idea.
While sitting by the freezer eating an ice lolly may sound like a more appealing option, eating proper meals is obviously important to give us the correct energy our bodies need to function.
But why exactly does the hot weather make it harder to eat, and what can we do about it?
Natasha Evans, a registered nutritional therapist, specialising in digestion and fertility, explains that our bodies work to maintain balance, otherwise known as ‘homeostasis’.
‘With regards to temperature, this is referred to as thermoregulation,’ she explains.
‘Our bodies are much hotter during a heatwave, and they work hard to keep us cool, with sweating and decreased movement.’
Why your appetite decreases in hot weather
‘Eating and digesting food increases our body temperature, so our bodies normally want less food when it’s hot,’ Natasha explains.
‘Think about a time when you’ve eaten a meal in the heat, and you suddenly feel even hotter, start flushing and sweating. This is due to the thermic effect of food and our bodies subsequently trying to cool us down.
‘Essentially, our hunger tends to decrease, as our bodies natural way of keeping our body temperature in check.’
Natasha also notes that research suggests our insulin sensitivity also improves during the warmer months, ‘which means more balanced blood sugar, less snacking and fewer cravings’.
‘Our bodies naturally crave hot food during the colder months and cooler, fresher, lighter food during the summer months,’ she adds.
‘But this isn’t actually true for everyone,’ explains BANT registered nutritional therapist Eva Humphries. ‘A study completed in Tel Aviv noted that men exposed to sunlight experienced increases in food-seeking behaviour, including greater appetite.’
What time of day should we be eating?
While Eva states that ‘the best time to eat is when you are hungry’. Makes sense.
She does acknowledge that eating at cooler times of the day, such as the morning and evening or grazing through the day rather than eating larger meals, may help to ‘mitigate the thermogenic effects of food’.
However, our experts warn against eating late into the evening.
‘Fats and proteins digest at a slower rate than carbohydrates,’ explains Eva. ‘So if you happen to be eating late at night and it’s a protein-heavy meal, it may disrupt your sleep.
‘As such, if you prefer to eat later, meals with more carbs and less protein may help.’
Natasha also explains that eating a very big dinner close to bedtime can increase body temperature.
Natasha also warns that dehydration can also affect our digestion, ‘by slowing down bowel movements, so remember – hydration is key.’
‘Aim for 2L a day (more if you exercise),’ she says. ‘We’ll be losing extra water through sweat, so it’s important to stay as hydrated as possible.
Keep some water close to your bed in case you get thirsty at night. It might be worth adding some extra electrolytes to your water as well to improve hydration.
‘We also get 20-20% of our fluid intake from food, particularly fruits & vegetables, which can be particularly hydrating, so make sure you’re still packing those into your meals,’ she adds.
‘Finally, there is such a thing as too much water – drinking too much can flush out nutrients and be bad for the kidneys. So, drink when you’re thirsty but don’t overdo it!’
Sipping water throughout the day, particularly at meal times, will help our hydration and digestion. It will also help keep us cool and allow us to get our water intake safely.
Best products to help you beat the heat
Shopping: This factbox contains affiliate links. We will earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.
Please note that prices were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed.
Dr Sam’s Flawless Daily Sunscreen
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Portable air conditioner
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Pro Breeze Oscillating 40-inch Tower Fan
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Elegear Cooling Blanket for Night Sweats
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Ergoflex 5G mattress
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Black and Decker Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, and Cooling Fan
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RATEL USB Table Fan
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Self-cooling mat for pets
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Jumbo inflatable pool
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Get a set of six towels for £20.99 at Amazon.
However, when the rising mercury becomes more irritating than enjoyable, reach for these items for some sweet relief.
Pro Breeze Turbo Desk Fan
Get it for £59.99 at Amazon.
Misting sports bottle
Get it for £16.37 at Amazon.
Retro Pineapple Ice Bucket
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Chillmax Pillow cooling gel insert
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Duronic ice cream maker
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onaEz Cooling Sleep Mask
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