Feeling hot, hot, hot, but not hungry? We tell you why

When even mummy’s special paneer curry feels icky

Ah, summer the season of mangoes, ice lollies and endless sunscreen reapplications. But amidst the sun-kissed vibes, summer dresses and trying to keep the kids occupied through the holidays, many of us encounter an unexpected summer bummer: a dwindling appetite.

When it feels like you’re living inside a tandoor, the last thing you want placed in front of you is a steaming plate of rajma chawal. Summer appetite loss is real and can leave us feeling a bit off-kilter.

Why does our enthusiasm for food take a nosedive when the mercury soars? More importantly, how can we ensure we’re still getting the nutrition we need without forcing ourselves to eat when we’d rather not?

We asked these questions to nutritionist Kavya Rajagopal, and integrative gut microbiome health coach and functional medicine nutritionist Janvi Chitalia. Here’s what they said.

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The science behind summer appetite loss

Digestion is a thermogenic process, says Chitalia, meaning that it creates heat in the body. “When the weather is hot outside, the hypothalamus in the brain, which regulates body temperature, notifies the body to reduce any act which creates heat, including digestion and, by doing so, reduces appetite.”

Rajagopal and Chitalia add that the weather can mess with your appetite because your body is constantly trying to keep itself at a comfortable temperature. When it’s hot outside, your body doesn’t need to generate as much heat to stay warm. This means it doesn’t have to work as hard, even during activities like exercise or digestion. Because of this, your brain and body may send fewer signals that you’re hungry. Essentially, your body’s need to stay cool can override your hunger cues, making the foodie in you retreat into hibernation during scorching summer days.

In short, when it’s hot, your body focuses more on cooling down than on digesting a big meal, leading to that common summer appetite loss.

What the summer heat does to our gut

During the summer, your gut is more susceptible to two major issues. The first is diarrhoea. Foods not stored properly can dehydrate quickly and become a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi. Vegetables or foods cooked earlier in the day can lose cellular water and spoil faster in the heat. As a result, diarrhoea, stomach pain and colitis become more common in summer, often accompanied by moderate to severe dehydration. “This condition needs to be treated with oral electrolytes and replenishment of B vitamins, which take a hit during such times,” adds Rajagopal.

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Chitalia says another major issue during these months is acidity. The excessive heat from the environment raises your body temperature, leading to problems like heartburn, hot flushes and troubled breathing. Dehydration can also cause constipation, which further exacerbates acidity when your bowels don’t open regularly. This combination makes managing hydration and diet crucial during the summer months to prevent these ailments.

Foods to avoid and what to really eat

So, what do you eat when your stomach feels like a desert mirage? Don’t worry. You can still have a healthy summer diet that keeps you energised without feeling heavy.

Don’t: Deep-fried delights and rich curries may seem tempting, but they’ll leave you feeling sluggish.

Do: “Protein is thermogenic in nature and burns more calories to digest, causing heat-related symptoms such as acidity and gas,” says Chitalia. However, protein is necessary in our daily diet. Rajagopal recommends opting for lighter proteins such as white-fleshed fish, like pomfret, greek yoghurt, beans, lentils, chickpeas and skinless chicken breast.

Don’t: Sodas, sports drinks and boxed juices can be high in sugar, which can dehydrate you and lead to blood sugar spikes.

: Instead, opt for cooling drinks like coconut water, chilled buttermilk-based drinks and cold soups like gazpacho. Water will always be your BFF, but be mindful of the growing heat as you may need additional electrolytes to stay hydrated.

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Don’t: Dry fruits may be your favourite healthy snack, but you may need to step away from the kishmish for a few months. Chitalia says that dry fruits are among those foods that generate heat by nature — others include mango, papaya, methi and red meat.

Do: If you aren’t ready to break up with dry fruit, Chitalia suggests soaking dry fruits (or any fruits) for 10-12 hours in water before consuming them to naturally reduce their heat-generating properties.

Don’t: Skipping meals is not a good option, says Rajagopal. Though summer appetite loss can make you start sweating at the mere thought of eating, skipping meals altogether can make you feel sluggish and tired in the heat, when your body needs the extra energy to stay cool. When you don’t eat, you’re not consuming fluids that come with the food. Not to mention nutrient deficiencies and possible digestive issues like bloating and constipation.

Do: When you’re facing summer appetite loss, you can start having smaller, more frequent meals. Stick to foods and snacks with high water content, like cucumber and watermelon. Go for yoghurt, and add saunf (fennel seeds), sabja (basil seeds), gulkand (rose petal preserve) and kokum (garcinia indica fruit, also known as Malabar tamarind) to your diet, as Chitalia says they’re great coolants that can be consumed daily.

Reminiscing about childhood summer treats like ice golas, banta soda, and chilled kakdi with kala namak is a delight. But if you want to stay cool, full and energised to enjoy all your holiday reads, balancing your diet with the right nutrients is your best bet. Because, let’s face it, you can’t run on nostalgia and street snacks alone, right?

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Modified by Maaaty at Cheap Generic Pharmacy

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