By Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Dharini Krishnan
Summer is in full swing. Everybody is trying to beat the heat with every method available. Some have gone to the hill stations, only to come back to this heat. Some have installed coolers or air conditioners to feel cool at the hottest part of the day. Apart from the heat, the next major hurdle to tackle is the thirst. Cool fluids are most welcome. One feels good for a while and then again we are looking for a replenishing stock of cool fluids. The most effective would be water from a pot. It is cool enough to quench the thirst, but not as cold as the refrigerated water which makes you thirsty more frequently.
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Cooled fresh fruit juices are a welcome change, but preferably without sugar, because otherwise, every glass will add to the storehouse of calories. Fresh juices which are strained in bigger sieves retain at least part of the fibre. Coconut water is a wonderful alternative. It also adds potassium to the body. Those who sweat a lot tend to lose the electrolytes from the body. Cooled buttermilk is another healthy alternative which also cools the system.
The ideal diet pattern for any family would be a light breakfast with a lot of fresh fruit. Even cold rice (previous day’s rice soaked in water overnight and using that for breakfast) is a good alternative. It is light and keeps the system cool. Eating it with a salted lime pickle or any other citrus pickle will add taste. Around mid morning a fresh fruit juice or coconut water is advisable. Raw mango juice is an alternative as mangoes are in season.
Lunch should be light, simple and easily digestible. The emphasis should be on vegetables. Less spicy and less oily foods are welcome during summer. Chilled lime juice or jal jira water are welcome alternatives. Chilled salad such as cucumber and raddish are used abundantly during this time of the year. For tea time those who prefer the coffee or tea are welcome to it. Those looking for other alternatives can go for chilled fruits such as watermelon, grapes, papaya, mango etc. Watermelon can be made into easy chilled products such as watermelon ice, which is very tasty and very cooling to be taken at this time of the day.
Evening early dinner, which is light, with less spicy and less oily is recommended. Chilled curd rice or curd semia are alternatives, which can be incorporated. Steamed or stir fried vegetables are easier to cook and easily digested.
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The preferred desserts are vanilla ice cream and mango pulp, watermelon juice with lime and mint leaves. Chilled water melon or mango cut into small pieces and chilled for 10 minutes before eating is good. Ice apple is an excellent fruit. It is so tender and full of refreshing juice for beating the sweltering heat. Leeches chilled and had fresh are a treat during summer. Karbhooja or musk melon chilled, can be taken as it is or made into juice, just beat it up in a blender, without straining the juice.
Children can have chilled rava payasam or semia payasam. Instead of the hot milk in the morning and evening, fruit milk shakes are welcome substitutes. Fruit salad with ice cream is also an alternative for the 4pm break. Children should play indoors during the afternoon, and outside only after 4 p.m. Water with “vetri ver” in it and put into a pot can be used. Similarly, rooh afza can be used with chilled water. It should be a standing instruction to carry water when one steps out of the house.
Apart from the diet, one has to follow the following simple techniques to help to beat the heat. The drawing room can have cool natural screens. A bucket of water can be kept under the fan to cool the room during the hottest part of the day. Using light coloured light cotton clothes will help us to stay cool.