Words by Sunjae Lee
Summertime is in full bloom, and the humid weather affects all aspects of our lives, including clothing, sleep, outdoor activities, and of course, diet. The following are some tips for healthy summer eating to keep you happy and balanced during these hot months.
1) Eat slowly and regularly:
During summer, we go on vacations, outings, festivals, etc. With all the external movement, it’s important to support digestion by slowing down the act of eating as much as possible. This helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which is required for optimal digestion. Rest and digest, folks.
2) Avoid greasy foods:
Although we feel energized in summertime, traditional wisdom says that our internal organs need extra support during this season as our bodies’ energy is focused outwards. Greasy summertime foods like deep-fried dishes and assorted street foods can thus be particularly tough on our digestive systems during this time. If you give into these cravings, be sure to temper fatty foods with high fiber vegetables like dark leafy greens.
3) Avoid cold foods:
One of the most natural inclinations during the summertime is to cool off with iced drinks and foods. While this indeed cools down body temperature, it can also have a negative impact — the energy normally spent towards digestion is routed towards warming up food. This is not to say avoid ice cream or iced drinks entirely, but just to exercise moderation and consider the effect cold foods have on your body.
4) Stay hydrated (in the right way):
It is clear that in the summertime we need to replenish our bodies with fluid to make up for increased perspiration. From the standpoint of digestion, it is best to drink outside mealtimes — the reason being that digestion involves highly concentrated acids and enzymes, and any water consumed will just dilute these substances.
5) Try these traditional Korean summertime foods:
Although I previously cautioned against it, one cooling dish which can be enjoyed in moderation is naengmyun, cold buckwheat noodles. These noodles are in a bone broth soup base, which is inherently warming, and the dish is usually also served alongside a cup of warm broth. Another traditional Korean dish is samgyetang, which is Korean-style chicken soup containing jujube and ginseng; these two herbs help support our digestive tract.