What to eat to beat the heat

What you eat greatly affects how you feel during summer

Here are some diet recommendations to keep your body cool…

Have lots of veggies and fruits

Have lots of naturally grown and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Healthy summer-friendly vegetable choices include: cucumber, bitter melon, sweet potatoes, asparagus, sprouts, mint, spinach, lettuce, carrots, sweet peas, broccoli, gourds [snake, bitter, ash, ridged and bottle gourds], okra, and baby squash. Raisins, grapes, pineapple, pomegranate, sweet oranges, mangoes, apples, dates, pears, melons, plums, and prunes are all cooling fruits.

Drink juice

Pomegranate juice is one of the best options among summer drinks, the others being watermelon juice, tender coconut water, lemonade, coriander ginger tea, buttermilk or lassi, and vegetable juices like those of cucumber, pumpkin and mint.

Avoid this

Avoid consuming colas, alcohol, frozen or iced drinks, excess coffee and tea. Also refrain from having too much hot, spicy, sour and salty foods—they don’t go well on hot days. Keep your intake of green or red chillies, strong spices like pepper, cloves and mustard seeds, garlic and onion to a bare minimum. Processed and preserved foods are best avoided. Meat which is heavy to digest is not a good diet option in summer.

Eat at the right time

Apart from what one should eat, Ayurveda also describes how, when and what one should consume during summer to help your body digest it well. It encourages one to eat more when the sun is relatively benevolent, for instance, early morning or late evening. Hence, moonlight dinners are recommended. It also prescribes eating in the company of nature—it has been recognised as the best place to enjoy meals with family and friends.

Eat light

Summer meals should be light, delicious, aromatic and freshly cooked. Sweet, cool, bitter and astringent tastes in smaller quantities should dominate your diet. Mild spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, fenugreek, mint, cardamom, and fennel should be incorporated in the diet.

Follow this diet chart

As mentioned earlier, it’s extremely important to eat the right things at the right time during summer to keep your body naturally cool and avoid the adverse effects of soaring temperatures. Here’s what ayurveda recommends:

In the morning [have one of the following]

  • Tender coconut water with crystal sugar and cardamom
  • Liquorices [jeshthimadh, mulhati] in milk
  • Watermelon juice with little honey
  • Pineapple juice with sugar or dash of pepper and ginger
  • Jal jeera made by mixing lemon juice, cumin powder and salt to taste.
  • Moong dal or cereals with raw grated vegetables, ginger and cumin.
  • Green gram and cooked rice mixed with sugar and cardamom or mild spices and ghee.
  • Idlis, dosa, chappatis sans hot and spicy accompaniments.
  • In addition, you can also have ghee, milk, and milk preparations.

At noon

  • Freshly made lassi 100 – 150 ml with few spoons of rose water. You can also add crystal sugar and cardamom to it. Or you can have lassi with coriander or mint leaves and salt; or with a splash of salt, cumin and asafoetida [hing].
  • Gourd [ash gourd, snake gourd, bottle gourd] or cucumber juice with or without spices.
  • Raw mango juice or fresh sweet mango juice offers a welcome respite from the sultry heat.
  • Preparations that have predominant sweet, bitter and astringent tastes.

At night

  • Warm milk with crystal sugar
  • Warm milk with saffron, cardamom, sugar
  • Boiled milk with ginger—filter it, cool it and have after adding cardamom, sugar, and finely powdered almonds.
  • Fresh sweet grape juice; it helps cope better with summer heat.
  • Rose petal jam [gulkand], ghee, sweets made up of dairy product.
  • [Since solids are difficult to digest during summer, more emphasis is laid on consuming the right kinds of liquids. Combine them with light easy-to-digest food].

With inputs from Shantala Priyadarshini, MS, Ayurveda and assistant professor Government Ayurveda Medical College, Karnataka.

Why drink water

A lot of emphasis is laid on drinking more water during summer. This is because water is a coolant and helps regulate body temperature. Besides that water acts as a solvent; it helps dissolve and transport all the products of digestion. It serves as a lubricant—water is the main component of our saliva, which makes swallowing food easy. Water is a component of the synovial fluid of the joints, which keeps them lubricated and prevents friction. It also flushes out toxins from the body, acting as a cleansing agent.

Drinking sufficient water has health benefits too. It helps prevent:

Water retention. Drinking sufficient water [1 – 2 litres] throughout the day will prevent your body from preserving and storing water in your system. This will effectively reduce water retention.

Constipation. While fibre is important to add bulk to the meal, it is practically useless if it is not accompanied by sufficient water. Only when fibre binds with water can it do its job effectively.

Appetite control. Our bodies mistake thirst for hunger and we go looking for after-meal munchies. Instead, drink a glass or two of water and such cravings will soon be gone.

By SAMREEDHI Goel — Samreedhi Goel is a Mumbai-based nutritionist and personal trainer.

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