What you should eat to beat the heat

Drinking plenty of water may be at the top of the list for staying cool and healthy during a heat wave, but dieticians say your eating habits may need to change, too.

"I would definitely recommend smaller meals a day. Try to eat maybe three to five hours apart and just have more little snacks," said Laura Malnar, a registered dietician at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.

Malnar said salty foods should be avoided. "Those are going to be your processed foods, like soups, canned goods, your frozen items. They're just going to really dehydrate you, so you're going to feel weaker and more lethargic if you eat those."

Popsicles are great treats for kids, Malnar said, since they're mostly water and come in various fruit flavors. Fruits and vegetables are also high in water content, she said.

"A lot of people eat celery. They're usually all water, so that's a great snack to have. Watermelon's a great snack to have. And even if you have blueberries, strawberries, pop them in the freezer and then you can just take some out and pop them in your mouth, like they were ice cubes."

Executive chef Thomas Mullally prefers lighter fare during the hotter months. One of his favorite summertime entres is a grilled chicken breast, topped with roasted corn off the cob, red bell peppers and chives, plus broccoli and veggies on the side.

"Again with our humid weather, I'm trying to stay away from the starches, the carbs. We don't want to wear ourselves down," Mullally said.

Mullally knows the hot weather calls for lighter proteins like chicken, turkey and fish instead of beef, and smaller portion sizes. "You don't want to have that heavy, eight ounce grilled filet mignon. It's just really going to weigh you down."

Staying well-hydrated is important, Malnar said, but that doesn't mean overdoing it on sodas or coffee. Both tend to include caffeine, which will dehydrate your body.

"So if you're going to have eight ounces of a caffeinated drink, have eight ounces of water and that way your body is able to filter through and stay hydrated."

Malnar suggests avoiding heavy, greasy foods or milk products during the hot summer. If you're going to have an ice cream cone to cool off, keep it to one scoop, instead of two or three, she said.

What do you enjoy in the hot weather?