Monsoon, without doubt, is the most favourite season! It relieves everyone from the scorching heat of the ruthless summer. Monsoon is also the season of food lovers! All the food items taste 100 times more delicious while it pours outside. Enjoying palatable snacks while it’s raining is a pure bliss. Isn’t it?
Garam kanda bhajias, adrakwali chai and bhunna butta are on everyone’s list. Not just food, monsoon makes you fall in love with nature as well! Puddles, drenching in the rain, paper boats, long drives to promenade and beaches, mini vacations or treks are activities everyone looks forward to.
But monsoon also has its share of problems, sadly. It is also considered by many as the season of sneezes, flu and virals. Therefore, apart from enjoying this season, you need to also take care of your immunity levels. One can catch cold, viral or flu due to body’s low immunity levels during monsoon. And hence one needs to be extra careful during this season.
And the health problem is not just limited to flus and virals, you will also find yourself complaining about various aches and pains, right from headaches, stomach aches to even backaches. Ever wondered what’s the reason behind it? It could be BAD Digestion. Humidity levels are high in monsoon due to which body’s digestive ability is reduced.
Damn! But who’s going to miss all the fun which the pouring rain tempts us to enjoy? Such a dilemma isn’t it? Should we avoid our health concern and enjoy the rainy season or give our health the topmost priority and shun ourselves into rooms and curse rains?
But as many say it and we staunchly believe in it- ‘Food has the solution for every problem’.
So here’s a list of food items which not only score well in taste but are also beneficial for health!
1) Indian Spices: India is known worldwide for its rich tradition of spices. Almost all spices have medicinal properties when used modestly. Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger can be used individually or in combination. They can be added to soups, juices, green tea and regular tea to enhance its flavour and immunity. So become the ‘Mistress of spices’ and you’ll find that the cough and cold are kneeling before you!
2) Vitamin C: It is the most important immunity vitamin. Daily intake of Vitamin C rich foods maintains your immunity levels throughout the year. Amla, tomatoes, capsicum, oranges, sweet lime, papaya, lemon are few foods which can be consumed on regular basis.
3) Honey: It is an anti-bacterial, rich antioxidant which works as powerful immunity booster. Use it in your lemon or green tea to keep sore throat at bay.
4) Oats: These are rich in fibre and are a good source to boost your energy. The fiber in oats helps fight upper respiratory tract infections. Include it in your breakfast and evening snacks. You can add some fruits to it to enhance its taste!
5) Omega 3 fats: They are found in cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Omega 3 fats are powerful immune boosters. And if you are a vegetarian, do not frown because they are also found in vegetarian dishes. Veg sources include flax seeds, chia seeds, mustard and olive oil. Sprouted pulses, urad dal also have significant amount of Omega 3 fats. Vegetables in cabbage family, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts are also good sources.
6) Tea: Barish and garma-garam chai ki pyali have almost become synonymous to each other! Sipping a cup of hot tea on a lazy rainy day is one of the best feeling! And it not only uplifts our mood but also has some health benefits too, during monsoon! Drinking tea keeps the risk of influenza away and they are also good for digestion! And if you are an herbal tea lover, you really don’t need to worry about influenza attacking you!
7) Soups: One more piping hot food item to enjoy in this season! Soups are your best-friend during monsoon! They are tasty, healthy as well as filling. So go ahead and enjoy hot vegetable soup cosily at your abode.
8) Dals: Include moong dal and masoor dal in your diet. We all know these dals are rich in protein. And they also have one more advantage! Consuming these dals will help our body in digestion because of the dietary fibres present in them.
9) Vitamin D: The deficiency of vitamin D is another new acquired deficiency of 8 out of 10 patients I meet. During monsoon, due to absence of sunlight the skin is further unable to synthesize Vitamin D. Ensure you include a moderate dose of fish, eggs, fortified orange juice, fortified milk, cereals, mushrooms and fish.
10) Include Liver loving foods: Get your regular dose of carrots, beetroots, green leafy veggies (in moderation and thoroughly washed and cooked only) and fresh fruits.
11) Probiotics: No matter what season it is, a bowl of curds made of low fat milk is a superb way to keep your tummy happy. But no added sugar please.
Apart from food, some basic good habits also goes a long way to keep health risks at bay! So, if you want to spend monsoon by eating pakodas rather than stuffing yourselves with bitter medicines, follow these basic habits:
1)Digestion begins in mouth: Chew your food well (always) as it eases the work your digestive system needs to do.
2)Hydration: Most of my clients do this mistake of drinking only a couple of glasses of water in monsoon and get sick of headaches and gases. Boy! it’s raining outside and not inside your body! Therefore, your body still needs at least 12 glasses of water daily.
3)Hygiene matters: Eat your favourite snacks but ensure that it has been prepared in hygienic condition.
4)Sleep: Don’t you love sleeping as much you love food? Everyone does, right? Well, here is one more reason why sleeping is important! It preserves the fighting power of body. And after a long, tiring day of tackling with the rains outside, body gets tired and needs rest. You are more prone to attracting infections if you are deprived of 7-8 hours of restful sleep. And sleeping during the cosy monsoon weather is so heavenly!
Monsoon is also a wonderful time to enjoy spicy street food. Though each of us know outside food is most dangerous especially during the rains still the temptation is highest during this time. Because of the strong impactful aroma of these food items! However, before you start digging into these street snacks ensure that it is piping hot or thoroughly boiled to keep food poisoning and diseases at bay. AND YES! Don’t forget to enjoy patent monsoon snack of desi bhutta cooked on coal with hot adrak chai in the special tiny kaach ka glass without any worries. Just follow our tips on how to indulge in monsoon and you are good to go!
MONSOON FASTING DO’S AND DON’TS
One more interesting fact of monsoon is that different cultures and communities follow rituals revolving around omission of certain foods or fasting during this period! It sure has a scientific reason to it. As monsoon is at its peak during these days there is almost no sunlight and this makes our digestive system and immune system weak, as I mentioned before. The waterborne diseases spread and such fasts helps to detoxify the system. Some religions fast for the entire 3-4 months of monsoon while some follow Shravan. Almost everyone switches to vegetarian food. I have few of my overenthusiastic religious clients who wait for these fasts so they can shed all their extra kilos, sadly the exact opposite happens! Why???
The fault is in our approach towards fasting. Not very long ago when women or even men would fast they would carry on with their regular work (which was not so sedentary like now). The need for energy throughout the day is pivotal during such times that’s the reason the foods that were consumed during fasts were all high carbohydrate like potatoes, sabudana, fruits, fruit juices, milk, nuts etc. It’s now that we have made the fast into feast by turning to potato chips, French fries, smileys, roasted nuts and tetra juices. These are not utilized for energy like earlier times, but are processed, deep fried, high in sugar and are the settled in areas which you will hate to see and to make it worse we opt for a four or six course dinners during fast which actually should have been consumed at lunch. Here’s how you can work this out:
1) Consume fresh fruits rather than juices to keep your blood sugar maintained.
2) Eat potato subji or roasted sweet potato rather than chips, chivda, french fries, similarly use Amaranth Flour (Rajgira atta) for making bhakri instead of puris.
3) Consume curds with grated dudhi or cucumber especially for Diabetics rather than eating sweet curds or kheer.
4) Consume roasted water chestnuts instead of making halwa out of the flour.
5) Dry fruits could be kept as snacking options in moderation, not more than a fistful.
6) Instead of Milkshakes make porridge from the allowed list of grains.
7) Last but not the least as mentioned above opt for Lunch as the only meal during fasts instead of dinners.
With these few tips you can further innovate with your allowed list of foods and not only get blessed but also look great.
Food can never be the cause of any problem if we know how to consume them properly! So go ahead take walk in the rain and play in the puddles with your loved one and indulge in tasty snacks without worrying about illness!
Hitanshi is a Dietician and lifestyle management coach and connoisseur of healthy food. She has more than 15 years of experience in fitness industry and believes that the recipe for happiness lies in healthy living. She is a food blogger, frequent traveller and a firm believer in eating right and not eating less….