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Do the Changes in Season Affect Our Dietary Patterns


The response to this question is intriguing. The transition between seasons brings large transitions into our lives.  As we change our comforters and decorations, we also change our level of physical activity. Our cooking changes as we switch from outdoor grilling to indoor crockpots and ovens.  This trickles down to even the food we cook. It is hard to imagine a hot summer day without thinking about enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, and foods of cooler temperature.

Summer appetite is often a thermic response

Hot environments induce efforts to stay cool.  C. Peter Herman from the University of Toronto Department of Psychology suggests that people eat less when it is hot, and that they eat ”lighter” and “cooler” foods.  Mr. Herman points out that a major physiological concern of humans is thermoregulation; the maintenance of an appropriate body temperature. He asserts that eating provides a major contribution to maintaining body heat.  In accordance with his research, if the environment is cold, the resultant heat loss demands compensatory strategies, including notably increased food intake for its thermic effect (generating heat to maintain body temperature).   If the ambient temperature is warm, and heat loss is not an issue, there ought to be a reduced caloric demand. Should the environment become significantly hot (which changes the concern from how to obtain energy to how to dissipate it) a suppression of caloric intake should be expected. “At a high temperature where loss of heat is difficult, food intake should be low ” (Brobeck, 1948). This temperature-dependent variation in energy needs should, in principle, be reflected in appetite.  Brobeck also claims that “everyone knows that appetite fails in hot weather.”

Based on his research it is apt to present few important dietary patterns for summer in comparison with colder weather.

Here are some tips for healthy foods for summer:

  • Salad with fresh spinach, lettuce, avocado slices, strawberries, apple, 7-8 pistachio nuts, 1 tablespoon edamame, 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds and peeled orange sections.
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water and avoid carbonated beverages and sugary drinks.
  • Vegetables are low in calories but are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Maintain consistent and regular eating habits. Moderation is key.
  • Fruits and vegetables are also high in phytochemicals.
  • Fermented vegetables, miso, or yogurt are good sources of probiotics. Probiotics are “good” bacterial strains often referred to as live and active cultures. They help to counteract “bad” bacteria within the body, especially following a course of antibiotics or illness.
  • A bowl of salad with fresh spinach, celery, lettuce and just a few small tomatoes is considered fat free food, and calories are very low, providing that a high calorie dressing is not used.  Use lemon juice and a dash of pepper and salt for taste. Jalapenos can be used for spicier taste.

Winter foods often match available flavors

The fall/winter season is typically a time when people tend to get sick because the climate is much colder, meaning there’s a much higher vulnerability to getting the flu during this season. We are more prone to prepare and eat foods that keep us full and warm our bodies during those cold months. Additionally, people from different geographical locations are conditioned to eat what they eat based on the weather they are predominantly known for. On top of this, we tend to crave different flavors based on what the season is.

Here are some tips for healthy foods for winter:

  • Grate cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots to a bowl of spinach.  Add spices as you like with a table spoon of whole wheat flour, ½ tsp salt.  Mix it well, make thin patties and shallow fry by using PAM or roast in oven.  Tastes AMAZING with fresh tomato sauce!
  • Asparagus soup: Grind asparagus finely and heat with water.  Add ¼ cup of 1% milk, pepper and salt for taste and pinch of red pepper flakes. This recipe is low in calories but

great in vitamins and minerals.

  • Fry vegetables using red and green peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach and any vegetable in season.  Add 1 tablespoon of edamame with cauliflower rice. Use low sodium soy for a healthy accoutrement!
  • Sweet potato and butternut squash soup with lemon, black pepper.
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Spinach lasagna
  • Grate cauliflower, shape into a pizza crust, add fresh tomato sauce, fresh cut tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, pineapple chunks, and grated parmesan low fat cheese.  This is a healthy, flavorful way to bake fresh cauliflower pizza.

It is important to point out that eating healthy seasonally isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a practice that’s going to take a bit of time and effort to get used to and stay consistent with. There is value in deeply examining your current eating and food shopping habits and finding ways to improve.  Taking little steps to be educated on the purpose and benefits of seasonal eating can be a great starting point

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