Foods You Should Never Eat During A Heat Wave

It's a scorcher out there. It's one of those sticky summer heatwaves that ripples the still air and turns the inside of cars into mobile hotboxes. Clothing sticks to the skin. It's too hot to even go out and swim. Our only sanctuary seems to be inside of our houses, right next to our air conditioners.

Fortunately, we have ways to keep ourselves cool, and some of them are deliciously cold and refreshing. Who among us hasn't found oasis in a sip of ice-cold water in the dead of a humid night? Who doesn't recall the nostalgic childhood memories of Fudge Pops and freeze pops on the sun-drenched patios? Yes, some of our favorite summer foods can provide us relief from the infernal heat.

But, for those who can't eat ice cream due to lactose or for those who are looking for a cooling meal that's a little heartier, what are they to do? There are certain foods that will hydrate you during a heatwave and some foods you should absolutely avoid.

Foods and drinks to enjoy in the heat

When the summer heat starts to roll in, it's easy to imagine that the cure-all is a double scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone, but that can't work for every occasion. Frances Largeman-Roth, nutrition expert and author, told Today Foods about certain produce to keep an eye out for on the hottest days. Largeman-Roth listed these foods in order of their hydrating properties: Cucumber, iceberg lettuce, zucchini, radish, tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries, watermelon, sweet pepper, and cantaloupe.

Perhaps the key fact in this list is not just that they are nutritious and good for you, but a good percentage of them are pretty much solid flavored water. Both strawberries and melon are tied at 92% water, and iceberg lettuce is an astounding 96% of water. You could add maybe 4 to 8% more water to these guys and you could drink them out of a glass. 

Largeman-Roth also suggested using an aluminum bottle to help keep your plain old water nice and cold. For those of us who are looking to mix it up, she said adding a bit of lemon, orange, and — brace yourself, buddy — herbs to your water can help. Don't worry. You can still get two scoops of fudge ripple, champ.

Common food mistakes during a heat wave

When you think of summer, you're thinking of roadside BBQ stands with hunks of pulled pork slathered in savory, sweet sauce, or baseball games where you can chow down on soft pretzels and mustard-glazed hot dogs. According to LA Weekly, these common foods may be at fault for you getting hot under the collar. 

Coffees and teas are loaded with caffeine and have very strong diuretic (aka urine-triggering) properties. And while alcohol may be tempting when it's time to hang out with your friends and enjoy some crisp Stellas by the pool, it will also put your liver into work mode to drain out those natural toxins. You'll feel more dehydrated than when you started. However, if you do drink, "make sure to have one glass of water for every serving of alcohol," Largeman-Roth told Today. She also said while a little salt is okay, it's best to avoid overly salty meals so you don't get dehydrated.

But, hold on, you say. A cold soda always helps beat the heat, right? According to a 2016 study by the American Journal of Physiology, soft drinks actually worsen dehydration (via Science Daily).

Red meat and other high-protein food can sit heavy in your stomach. That means your body temperature will need to rise in order to digest all that protein. For fans of hot wings, the capsaicin in peppers will also cause your body temperature to rise drastically.

Look, we're not saying to avoid these foods like the plague. It's fine to enjoy a good burger and beer. Just make sure you have plenty of other cold options to keep you going. 

Cooking during a heat wave

Alright, so chips and a cold one aren't exactly great during a day when you're peeling yourself off your mattress at 9 a.m. You want something a bit more filling than lettuce leaves and glasses of water. Before you go and decide to turn on the oven to whip up some tacos or toss in a chicken, stop. Hunkering down over a hot stove during a heat wave doesn't sound so fun. What can you make that won't leave you hungry and also won't leave you passed out from heatstroke on your kitchen floor?

As Perfect Snacks explains, the trick is to have light, frequent meals throughout the whole day, rather than a huge dinner in a sweltering kitchen. The reason is that you can feel sluggish after trying to digest all the food, and it will raise your body temperature. Take advice from the visionaries we know as The Wiggles and make a delicious fresh fruit salad. Make a vegetable and fruit-filled smoothie that will both fill you and keep you hydrated. Be sure to use fridge-fresh ingredients, so you don't have to waste time lighting up the burners on your stove to cook.

In the event you do have to cook something up on the stove, we advise you not to use so many fans. They'll just blow hot air around and make you feel like you're the one in the oven.