5 Ways to Beat The Heat-- With Food!

Conde Nast Digital StudioConde Nast Digital StudioSarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine

The heat is on! As the temperatures continue to climb this summer, staying cool because even more of a priority for all of us. But don't crank up the air conditioning to full blast just yet, what you are eating may make a difference in beating the heat. Here are 5 ways that you can stay cool with food.

Eat Light. You may find that you don't want to eat the same heavy meals in the summer that you crave in the winter. Listening to your body about this is important as sticking to several lighter meals throughout the day really can keep you cooler. After we eat, the thermic effect of food takes place, in which our body temperature rises as we digest the food- the larger the meal, the greater this effect. In addition, just say no to spicy food on hot days as the compound capsaicin (which gives spicy food its heat) can also raise body temperature and make you sweat!

Freeze Your Favorites. Something ice cold always sounds good on a hot day, but slushies and sno-cones can pack on the calories. Instead, try freezing your favorite fruits and veggies. I love freezing berries and snacking on them on hot afternoons for a nutritious way to cool down. And you can do the same with some veggies too! I have a friend who loves to freeze English peas and let them melt in her mouth!

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Eat Your Water. Did you know that 20-30% of your fluid needs should be met through high water foods like fruits and veggies? Eating plenty of these foods can help you stay hydrated and cool throughout the summer. Some produce is as much as 85% water, so shoot for those with highest water content. Best bets include: watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, grapefruit, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots.

Make a Cooling Mask. Food can cool you down in more ways than just eating it. Foods such as yogurt and cucumber have cooling properties that are great for the skin as well. On a hot day, when you are feeling flushed; try making this cooling yogurt and cucumber face mask. To make it, chop 1 peeled, medium cucumber and combine it with 6 ounces plain yogurt and 1 tsp. nonfat powdered milk in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined. Remove mixture from food processor and put into a container and set aside. Wash and dry your face. Using your fingertips, apply the mask all over your neck and face, avoiding the eye area. Keep the mask on for 10-15 minutes and then wipe off with a warm damp cloth. Finish the process by splashing your face with cold water and drying with a clean, soft towel. You should feel cool and refreshed!

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Eat Cooling Foods. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that some foods have cooling properties (yin), while other foods have heating properties (yang). Heating and cooling in this case doesn't just refer to body temperature, but also the type of energy in the body. According to TCM, symptoms of heat energy in the body include flushed face or cheeks, irritability, and indigestion, while a few symptoms of cold energy include: fatigue, weakness, and restlessness. TCM states that eating the right heating or cooling foods can help balance out this energy. And I think it's a plus that the foods on the cooling food list also yummy on a hot summer day!

TCM cooling foods include: Bamboo shoot, banana, bitter gourd, clam, crab, grapefruit, lettuce, persimmon, salt, seaweed, star fruit, sugar cane, water chestnut, watermelon, lotus root, cucumber, barley, bean curd, chicken egg white, marjoram, oyster, pear, peppermint, radish, strawberry, tangerine, and yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, pineapple, turmeric.

So crank up the air conditioning if you must, but also try some of these ways to stay cool this summer! Ice cold slice of watermelon, anyone?

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