New Woman

Monsoon Eating Mantras

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With the heat finally relenting after an arduous summer, you may be heaving a sigh of relief quite predictable; but the new season brings with it new challenges, especially with food. Monsoons can be a nightmare when it comes to eating healthy and staying fit. So what do you eat and what do you not? Also, how do you ensure your children are eating right? If you have these questions, fret not, experts tell you how you can stay cool and whet your appetite right this monsoon!

Liquid Call

The first and the foremost thing that must be taken care of in the monsoons is of drinking water as it is the root cause of all diseases. “Drink only boiled or filtered water. One can opt for yogurt instead of milk. Homemade sprouts over the ones sold by vegetable vendors. Inculcate fresh seasonal fruits like Lychee, Pomegranate, and Banana over water based fruits like Watermelon and Muskmelon which tend to attract bacteria. Try introducing Methi or Fenugreek seeds which improve the digestive system, Garlic which will help in building your immunity and the best option here would be a bowl of hot soup with a dash of garlic. The soup will not only help maintain the body temperature but will also help relax your body and the garlic will help build your immunity which will keep all kinds of diseases at bay,” says Celebrity Dietician and Nutritionist Manisha Mehta.

Eat Right

Dr. Anil Ballani, Consultant Physician, P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC avers, “in monsoons one must eat hot food. Healthy foods like hot soups, green tea, herbal tea, steamed vegetables help in keeping us warm and prevent us from getting a cold/cough /flu.” While rains bring in a welcome respite from the summer heat, our body is more susceptible to health issues in rainy season, because monsoon reduces the immunity power of our body. “Our body constantly gets affected with allergies, infections, indigestion problems, so we must keep our body resistant against such diseases. The humidity in the atmosphere is usually high in this season; as a result the body’s digestive capability goes down.One must maintain a healthy diet to protect from such infections and digestive complaints. It is important to have a perfectly healthy body and for that, one needs to keep a check on what to eat and what not to eat. Following are few basic guidelines recommended during monsoon to enhance the immunity level and decrease the digestion problems,” says Dr. V. Mohan, Chairman, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre.

Foods to Avoid

One must avoid all kinds of sea food especially crabs, fish, prawns as they can cause stomach infections if they are not fresh. Also green and leafy vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, spinach must be eaten only after being cleaned with hot water and salt. Avoid eating any kind of pre-cut fruits or vegetables and street food is a strict no-no this season. “Street food like chaat should be avoided because they harbour bacteria and give rise to gastro intestinal infections leading to diarrhoea. In monsoons, flies thrive and carry bacteria from gutter water or via fecal route, stagnant water leads to mosquitoes and flies which spread diseases. Specially avoid cut fruits which when kept open on carts are exposed to flies,” says Ballani.

Children Matter

Managing food during monsoons can be a tricky affair and even more when it comes to children. Coconut water is a good drink for children as is lemon water being rich in Vitamin C which is good to for the body’s immunity. “Children must have one egg a day which is rich in high in protein and Vitamin A, nuts and cereals,” says Mehta. With the rains just around the corner, one needs to eat healthy food so as to avoid falling sick in monsoons. Let the rains not dampen you and your child’s spirits. Parents should take good care for their kids during this season. “Cherries, litchi, jamun, green almonds, peaches and plums as they have natural antioxidants and enhance your kid’s immunity against diseases. Add spices like garlic, pepper and ginger in the diet as they help with digestion. Ensure your child drinks plenty of boiled water. You can also squeeze some lemon in it. Dry cereals like corn, chickpea and oats are helpful this season,” advices Mohan. Dr. Chaitali Laddad, Founder & Director, The Pediatric Network explains, “monsoons bring along with it a host of contagious diseases and kids being sensitive easily fall prey to these infections like dengue, jaundice, diarrhea, dysentery, viral and malaria. Kids with a weak immune system are more prone to these diseases; hence parents need to take preventive counter measures like maintaining a healthy diet to safeguard your child. A healthy balanced diet with all food groups included i.e. cereals and grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat is essential to keep up the immunity.”

Take Care

Water borne diseases like typhoid, jaundice generally breed during monsoons and in dirty sewage water. “During monsoons, water gets clogged into several corners making it a breeding home for these diseases. Sometimes this water is mixed with the tap water which we may use for cooking or drinking which leads to us falling sick,” says Mehta. Using a homemade solution of one part vinegar to four parts water to cleanse your veggies and fruits is good enough. “The market is flooded with vegetable washes; however we still are not sure about the safety in the long term. Ensure all vegetables are cooked well. Use drinking water to cook instead of normal tap water, even when washing veggies and fruits or soaking your rice, dal is a must. Homemade food is the best option for this season. Ensure your child washes hands properly with soap and water before eating. This helps to keep the germs away. Always remember prevention is better than cure,” says Laddad.

Easy Eating Tips

  • Small and frequent meals help aid digestion.
  • Spices like garlic, pepper, ginger, asafoetida, turmeric, coriander and jeera enhance digestive power and improve immunity.
  • Using too much of spice or salt may lead to water retention; hence moderation is essential.
  • Foods that are light like vegetables, fruits, cereals etc are good and consumption of meat or fish must be reduced.
  • Light meat preparations like soups and stews rather than heavy curries are advisable.
  • Fried and oily food must be avoided as these may cause acidity. Grilled or tandoori items that require minimum oil/butter must be consumed instead.

 This story appeared in the July issue of New Woman magazine here:

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