Eating Right In The Summer Months

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Eating right in the summer months is a must-do for energy and good digestion. Nutritionist and author Kavita Devgan shares tips on foods that work well.

Summer time is usually when infections are rampant and immunity is at an all-time low. Avoid heavy meals to ease out the digestion process during summers. Don’t make your body work too hard to process what you eat. Here are some basic guidelines:

Have pro-biotic foods: Avoid difficult to digest foods like meat, dairy, alcohol, coffee, and processed foods that can increase inflammation in the body and bust our immunity during these months. Incorporate fermented foods in your daily diet. These are easy to digest, are teeming with enhanced micro-nutrients, and also restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. Drinking Buttermilk or chaach twice a day is the best way to fix this. To make: Beat yoghurt, add water, add black salt and roasted jeera, or jaggery, shake. Include pro-biotic and fermented foods – in your daily diet; have it every day. Home made curd, buttermilk, pickles, South-Indian dishes like idli, dosa, appam, dhokla, uttapam, and kanji are good options.

Pair your fruits with some nuts: So whenever you have a fruit, have a few nuts along with them. In fact always carry some nuts with you, so that you can munch on them whenever you are feeling giddy or feel that your sugar levels are dropping; also helpful if there are long gaps in between meals. A banana or a boiled egg is a good idea too to tide over such times. If you are outside and need to eat, then a sweet potato or shakarkandi chaat, which releases energy slowly, is a good plate to pick up.

Follow meal patterns: Follow three main meals and two small snacks pattern of eating. Better to eat small portions every few hours, so that the blood sugar does not drop and remains stable.

Boost iron in the diet: Have at least three iron rich foods from the list below everyday: quinoa, sea food, eggs, dried apricots, pomegranate juice with lemon juice, chickpeas, nutri nuggets (soya), almonds, pumpkin seeds.

Have adequate salt: Don’t try to cut salt from your body during these months. Add black salt to fruits, have it in nimbu pani (lime juice), etc. In fact, whenever you feel exhausted or tired due to dipping blood pressure levels, drink a glass of lemon juice mixed with a little sugar and salt to control your blood pressure.

Eat cooling fruits & veggies: When the temperature begins to rise, it’s important to keep your body cool. Focus consciously on eating foods that cool from inside, naturally. Thankfully, this time of the year offers an endless variety of veggies and fruits, so make the most of these summer gifts. Try to include one summer vegetable or fruit in every meal and snack on these too.

Most vegetables are cooling, but because of their exceptionally high water content, these five veggies are especially good at bringing body temperature down: cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, bottle gourd, spinach. Eat more of these.

Fruits are equally cooling for our system, and there’s a a lot to choose from during this season (different melons particularly). While you can always snack on them, try to increase their consumption by having them in interesting ways: make a dessert, or a smoothie, cook with them (for example with a raw papaya salad or a cold melon soup) or chop them small pieces and add to water to make infused drinks, which you can sip through the day to stay cool.

Change your meat: Eat more fish compared to other meats. Fish is a cooling food that helps counteract the heat lingering in our system, and help bring about an equilibrium on a hot summer day.

Use cooling spices: Opt for fresh ginger, marjoram, cilantro, lemon balm, peppermint, and white peppercorn as they are cooling; avoid cinnamon and dry ginger as they are warming.

Include these three in your diet:

Bitter gourd (karela): This humble vegetable, not liked by many can be your saviour during summers as it takes away the heat from the body, even if you indulge in heating foods occasionally. So try to have it two to three times a week, or incorporate a table spoon of karela juice in your diet everyday.

Bottle gourd: Delivers lots of water (is 96% water), is inherently cooling, loaded with potassium that helps keep the blood pressure down and electrolyte balance maintained, prevents fatigue and keeps the body cool and refreshed during summers.

Watermelon: Totally fat-free sweet, juicy watermelon is packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. It provides vitamin C, beta-carotene, B vitamins necessary for energy production, magnesium, and potassium, among other nutrients. As it has a higher water content and lower calorie content than many other fruits (a whole cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories), it delivers more nutrients per calorie – an outstanding benefit!

Photograph: Steve Evans; Wikimedia Commons

Beware of food poisoning: Do not leave food unrefrigerated longer than one hour at a time or the chances of dangerous bacterial growth increase. Store and serve cold foods at temperatures below 40°F. Some popular cold picnic foods are potentially hazardous and require special care. Be particularly careful in handling any homemade food that contains eggs, mayonnaise or salad dressing, such as potato salad. Water for drinking, cooking and dishwashing must come from a safe and approved source. In Summer viral, amoebic and bacterial infections are rampant and food and water are most convenient carriers for these. The symptoms of most types of food poisoning include severe cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms begin from one-half hour to three days after eating contaminated food. Most cases of food borne illness are mild, and the symptoms disappear in a day or two. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a physician.

About Author

Kavita Devgan

Kavita Devgan is a Delhi based writer, nutritionist, weight management consultant, speaker and the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People & Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 kickass traditional habits for a fitter you.