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Does weather affect your appetite?

Most people seem to eat more in cold weather/climates, which makes sense since calories are expended in maintaining normal body temperature. But how about hot weather? It's been 90 and humid in New England for over a week, which may be the new normal but is not what most of us are used to. I can't bear the thought of a full hot meal, much less using the oven. Since I am retired I can avoid exertion in this heat wave but even when working as a mail carrier, if it was hot and humid I either skipped lunch entirely or had a small cold meal like yogurt or a piece of fruit. This week I have no appetite at all. I am eating a single, mostly vegetable meal, in the evening, only because of an increasing headache if I eat nothing. Other than that, decaf iced coffee/tea, and a mid-afternoon snack containing fat, like a small scoop of ice cream, because I take a medicine that is best absorbed with a meal containing fat. Since I need to lose weight, the humuggly weather does have one thing in its favor.

Most folks prefer to eat *lighter* in summer, but how many eat *less*?

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  1. <Does weather affect your appetite?>

    Yes, yes, yes.

    1. Living in an area where 85 to 95 degrees is the norm for at least 5 months a year, I find the abrupt change will also alter my eating habits.

      That first cold front in January dictates either a beef stew or Bahamian sous. But my caloric intake of meat and poultry do not seem to fluctuate.

        1. I do eat 'lighter' in summer - more fruits and vegetables but I'll entirely skip dinner much more often when the heat hits. Even if I've made a proper dinner, sometimes I'll just put it all away and have it for breakfast the next day.

          Summer's are brutal here and although our winters are not blizzards, once it gets below 80, I start thinking of soup and stews.

          That said, I try not to eat unless I'm hungry. I think the increase in water, in the summer, may offset any hunger.

          11 Replies
          1. re: JerryMe

            "...once it gets below 80, I start thinking of soup and stews."

            I'm in Minnesota and I prefer the temp to be below 80.

            I have been in Mesa quite often in the winter and I suppose I can be seen as someone from outside the state because if it's 50° and sunny, I'll be wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

            I heard a guy on Phoenix radio te a story about how he saw some people swimming in a pool at 75° and he wanted to ask them "what part of Minnesota are you from".

            We definately eat lighter in hot weather. Today it was 90° but the dewpoint was over 70°. (Hint, that's quite 'sticky'.)

            1. re: John E.

              Ha Ha! I've seen those people and made the same comments! You have to admit that the Valley of the Sun is a welcome respite from a Minnesota winter (I'm from Montana)!

              1. re: JerryMe

                I love it down there when I visit in the winter. However, I was there for two months a couple of years ago to take care of my father after some serious heart surgery. I am pretty sure the temperature did not get above 70 that January and February, at least not until the day I flew home, it was 77. Don't get me wrong, it didn't bother me but I saw a lot of the locals wearing sweatshirts and jackets all the time.

                The problem I have with Mesa is that there a ton of places to eat, but not many of them are all that memorable. I guess they are mostly there for the snowbirds.

              2. re: John E.

                Reminds me of an episode of Top Chef, where a chef made a braised dish that was criticized as not being appropriate for hot weather. The chef didn't explain himself very well, but the gist was that he was from Florida, and thus if he waited for it to be cold to cook something braised, then he'd never cook anything braised!

                Conversely, I was in Tierra del Fuego, and my guide joked that when it hit 15 Celsius -- about 60 degrees Fahrenheit -- the locals all stripped off their clothes and jumped in the channel.

                As for me, I definitely eat not only lighter but less when it's hot. I'm from the temperate Bay Area, so I'm a complete wuss when it comes to heat!

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I can totally relate to the Top Chef story. I live in FL and just eat what sounds good or better yet, what's on sale. If I want a big salad in January or pot roast tonight, I make it. I love braised foods and make them quite often. Lucky me, my man eats everything without compliant

                  1. re: suzigirl

                    and thank heavens for pressure cookers -- moist, tender braises without heating up the whole house.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    The interesting thing about Tierra del Fuego is that it has a fairly temperate climate. It's winter there now and it's 41 degrees there right now (I looked it up). So while they may not get too warm in the summer, they don't get too cold in the winter either. I understand they have some storms down thataway. : )

                    1. re: John E.

                      I was there in early spring, and it snowed (at sea level). But you're right, because it's surrounded by water and not shielded by any continental land mass, it's a temperate (although cool) marine climate.

                      And to keep this on topic, I had one of the best steaks ever in a hut next to a lake in Tierra Del Fuego. Or maybe it just tasted great after a very cold walk along the lakeshore!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I don't know if you were in Chile or Argentina, but the latter country is of course known for their beef, so it may have a little of both the quality of beef and the location.

                        1. re: John E.

                          Argentina. And yes, known for its beef, although in Patagonia I preferred the awesome lamb.

              3. too hot to eat much here in boston, much less turn on the oven.

                thankfully, i had a couple of containers of one of my favorite summertime soups, roasted tomato-fennel, in the freezer to see me through this heat wave.

                my other warm weather go tos, cauliflower ceviche. and white bean and kale salad, are well worth the stovetop time required.

                1 Reply
                1. re: wonderwoman

                  We've split wonderwoman's cauliflower ceviche recipe to its own thread on Home Cooking. You'll find it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/908388 .

                2. I definitely eat lighter but not less. I think it also depends on whether you have AC or not. I only have it in the bedroom so my kitchen is brutal and I don't ever want to cook. I eat more salads or toast breads and eat with cheese. On a cool day I may cook and freeze then microwave something I have in the freezer. I'll take it into the bedroom to eat it (I live alone so can get away with that!) If I had no AC at all I probably would eat less, or just eat junk like cheese and crackers all the time.

                  My brother has central AC and he and my SIL cook all summer long!

                  1. You betcha, usually nothing hot unless it comes off the grill or the smoker in the summer, two evenings this last week all I ate for supper was watermelon.Late fall and winter then it's time for the heavy stuff.

                    1. When we lived in Nashville, there were summer-only dishes that could pull me out of my food doldrums, mostly the fresh field peas, the corn and tomatoes, the wonderful green beans. But the heat and humidity so aggravated my chronic rhinitis that all that - well, you know - that I'd swallow in the course of a day had me battling alternating nausea and heartburn, even if I could take refuge in air conditioning, and that kept me from enjoying that great food as much as I wanted to. As for reducing fat, well, that's relative: the stews and braises of fall and winter were richer, maybe, but there were ribs and chicken and barbecue, and mayonnaise-y potato salad, and we weren't going to cook those peas and green beans without a nice chunk of jowl or bacon, were we? Not to mention fried catfish and hushpuppies.

                      Here in the drier heat of SoCal we're eating lighter these days anyway, and I've noticed I'll often have a small plate of one leftover item for my lunch instead of the two-dish meal I most usually want. When cooler weather gets here I will probably go back to larger midday meals, but the evening ones are of consistent size in any season.

                        1. it does very much... we cook out a lot in summer.. and eat more seafood in summer..

                          1. Absolutely. When it gets to 90, the oven and other appliances stay off. I find myself often eating snacks, frozen stuff, fresh fruit and veggies. Not uncommon for me to skip a meal in the hottest times of the day and suck on some ice instead.

                            1. Definitely, I don't feel as hungry, and I commonly skip lunch. However, I always seem to gain a few pounds in the summer, so I am making it up somewhere (probably in Gin and Tonics!).

                              Tonight I introduced my family to an American classic they hadn't had before, the BLT, accompanied by strawberry drink (made with old fading berries) and followed by a dessert of cherries and raspberries. Appreciated by all, and definitely all I was up to preparing in my sweltering kitchen.

                              1. It does but in weird ways. In the summer I prefer to eat lighter and get serious cravings for vinegar but also get cravings for lots and lots of soup...hot soup! I definitely crave other comfort foods in winter and particularly take out becomes interesting again, while in summer I'm never really interested in going out and always want to cook.

                                1. When it perspiration pours I reign in... amounts, calories, heaviness. Just cannot eat much of anything when the weather is hot.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    That's the word...heaviness. I LOVE rich, hearty stews, but only if the month has an "r" in it.

                                  2. I eat less. When it's hot, all I want are ice bars/popsicles and popcorn. I have to force myself to eat something nutritious.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: SilverMoth

                                      Oh yes, I also crave popcorn in the summer.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Me too! I am not sure why popcorn goes with summer... I don't even watch movies.

                                    2. No.

                                      I have A/C for the summer and the heater for the winter.

                                      I love soup, and will have it even when it's 100+ outside. I just crank up the A/C and all is good.

                                      1. Lighter yes; less not really. I have been eating loads of watermelon lately which is pretty filling, plus other summer fruits, and some very nice tomatoes.

                                        I have always lived with air conditioning and we always have it on so cooking in my kitchen in the summer is not a problem. In a way, it's more of a problem standing in front of a 500 degree grill when the temperature outside is 90+ degrees!

                                        1. Oh, definitely. And the minute I hit an air-conditioned environment, I'm ravenous if I've been avoiding food from heat-induced lack of appetite.

                                          We do eat quite differently at home during the summer, because the garden goes into overdrive.

                                          1. Yep. Grilled foods (especially fish) and salads rule when it's hot and sticky.

                                            Our hands-down favorite is a couscous salad (with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, mint, and feta) -- it's cool and refreshing, and nearly guilt-free! I add grilled shrimp to make it a full meal. Gazpacho rocks when it's hot, too.

                                            Cooler weather brings soups and stews and braises.

                                            1. It does. My body craves more fruits and veggies. I am sure there is no science to it but I think it's because the growing season is so short here. I rarely crave things like fresh strawberries and tomatoes in the winter the way I do in the summer. I do dibt crave baked sweet potatoes in the sunmer.I try to get my fill in season.

                                              I do "cook" less and grill more. We grill year round but I am loathe to turn on the oven in the heat. We eat more "raw" foods too-lots of salads.

                                              We have central air but use it very rarely. I would never turn it in to allow me to bake or cook more. I'm too frugal and it seems counterproductive. If I crave hot soups, stews or oven braised foods I opt for my slow cooker or get take out.

                                              1. Absolutely. There's a running joke amongst my friends that if we all lived on a beach in a warm climate, we'd all be 10 lbs. lighter :-)

                                                I definitely eat less when it's hot out (regardless of having the luxury of central air), and crave a lot more cold dishes -- salads, chilled soups, fresh fruit.

                                                I'm much hungrier in the winter, when I also crave more "stick to your ribs" dishes like stews and other hearty fare.

                                                1. I live in a climate that's hot and *very* humid in the summer (35 C/95 F for four-five months), and damp and chilly in the winter.

                                                  I find that the smaller appetite caused by the heat is more than offset by fresh fruit, iced drinks, and ice cream - I actually have to watch what I eat more in the summer than the winter, because I'm more sedentary (doing stuff outside is not fun), and the aforementioned cold drinks.

                                                  My cooking style does change dramatically, though. I tend not to use the oven in summer, and go light on heavy stews and so on, but eat a lot more cold dishes - cold pastas, cold sliced meat, salads, cold soups, potato salad, etc.

                                                  Oddly enough I do braise a lot during the summer. The stove is in the kitchen and can be closed off from the rest of the apartment, so I can slow cook a pot roast or the like without heating up the apartment (although being *in* the kitchen is pretty nasty). But the oven is in the main room of the apartment, and doesn't get used for anything more than toasting bread during the summer.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                    Can I ask where you live? You have described an appliance placement that is nothing like it is in most American homes. We either have a 'range' that is an appliance that includes both a stove (hob) and an oven. Or, there are situations where the stovetop is in place and there is a wall oven separate from the burners. I have never seen these appliances in different rooms however. Am I missing something?

                                                  2. Absolutely. I live in Arizona and we've had some very serious heat on and off over the last couple of weeks. I hate firing up the oven on days like that, and do a lot of "nibbles" type meals. Lots of salads with cold chicken on as well.
                                                    I don't get on the scale all that much, but I now need to wear a belt instead of making it a cute accessory :/

                                                    1. yea, I eat less and lighter in the heat. Cottage Cheese and Fage Greek Yogurt are common meals instead of cooking something.

                                                      I have A/C but it doesn't touch the kitchen. I cook eggs, and make a beef roast or pork roast in the crock pot for the week, but that's it. I don't grill, so if I'm inclined that way, I'll put the Georgio Formanni to use.

                                                      1. Never. I kind of wish it did, but I've never had the "it's too hot to eat" feeling that some do.

                                                        1. I don't eat less (would never skip a meal!), but what I eat in hot weather is probably less caloric. I know that my weight tends to be 3 or 4 lbs heavier in the winter, then drops when the weather gets hot/sticky and I start serving dinners made up of 3 salads rather than, say, a stew and homemade bread.

                                                          1. Same here. No appetite during hot weather.

                                                            1. Yes, especially when the dew point spikes as it has here in the Northeast for the last couple of weeks. I have no interest in nibbling on one of my favorite foods – cheese.

                                                              1. It has been gross and humid, today is the first pleasant day in a while.

                                                                Yes, I eat less but not too much less. When it is hot I have salty olives and chips served with gazpacho. I bought a portable gas grill so I can make a quick wok stir fry on the patio.