By Megan Barber, Grocery and Wellness Buyer, Merchandising Manager, Co-op Owner
As warmer weather approaches, you can almost feel summer in the air! When the weather turns brighter and more temperate, our eating habits and cravings change with it. Thinking back on past summers, you most likely didn’t crave heavy dishes nearly as much as in darker, colder winter months. This is actually one sign of your body trying to maintain an even heat or warmth. Our bodies don’t like being out of homeostasis, which is the temperature range where everything runs well. Eating creates warmth by both the action of eating as well as digestion processes. This is why we tend to favor cooler foods in the summer like salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta salads, sandwiches, and more.
We also just have more salad greens, fruits, and vegetables available to us in the summer so they tend to show up in our meals more often than hearty and long-lasting produce like potatoes and carrots which feature prominently in our winter diets. Access to air conditioning helps to mitigate this reduced appetite due to heat by lowering the room’s temperature. This makes the season feel milder and our bodies don’t have to work as hard at staying cooled down. A study noting the higher sales of ice cream from street vendors versus indoor mall areas helps support findings of our climate impacting our food cravings.
We also typically need to drink more water in warmer months to stay hydrated. Fresh produce naturally contains more water and we often can take care of both cooling and hydration by consuming lighter foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Sunlight also comes into play. With the increased duration of daylight and more time typically spent outside in the summer months, the body is able to produce more serotonin. Serotonin’s benefits are very similar to the effects we see from eating carbohydrates and that helps balance our mood. It helps explain why we desire more carb-heavy foods in winter when we usually aren’t exposed to as much sunlight as in the summer.
Now, this isn’t fully true for everyone everywhere as it’s just impossible to account for everyone in studies due to differences in people, populations, cultures, environments, and more, but I hope it sheds a little interesting light on summer diets versus winter diets!