WFAEats: When It's Too Hot To Eat

Jun 22, 2018

When the temp in my car reached 104 this week, I got a little queasy. My friend Karin asked me about the effect of hot weather on our appetites, so I set out to learn more.

Obviously, we crave cool foods and drinks when it’s hot outside because our biology instructs us to thermoregulate our body temperatures. But something interesting happens to our desire for food as well.

First, the perception of heat varies from person to person. That’s why some people can exercise outdoors in summer while others break a sweat just walking to the car. We generate different amounts of heat from activity. Even eating is thermogenic, meaning the act itself creates heat. (Remember when Joey on Friends got the “meat sweats?”)

Next, there’s a difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is a need that produces a desire for food. That desire is appetite, and it’s highly variable. That’s why some people don’t want to eat when they’re sick, stressed, distracted – or just plain hot.

Finally, there’s food intake. Our food intake is affected by both hunger and appetite. You can be hungry and have no appetite. You can have an appetite without actual hunger. Extremely hot weather diminishes all three: hunger, appetite, and intake.

Like hunger, our sense of thirst can fluctuate. While we rarely suffer from reducing our food intake, it’s crucial to increase fluid intake even in the absence of feeling thirsty. It’s smart to avoid or limit alcohol because its diuretic effects can make us lose fluids and become dehydrated.

Processed foods require more water to digest. Eating foods with a high percentage of water can help prevent fluid loss and make us feel a little more comfortable. Watermelons, cucumbers, and tomatoes all contain more than 90 percent water. Here’s a list of 19 Water-Based Foods from healthline.com that will help you replenish.

Eat peaches, salads, and slaw. Refill that water bottle. Don’t turn on the stove. That’s about all we can do when the temperature tops 100. And if all else fails, consider this: Autumn will arrive in just 92 days. 

Amy Rogers writes WFAEats, a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and tackle the meatier side of the food scene in and around Charlotte.