From must-have fruits and vegetables, to produce to avoid at all costs, here is your complete guide to eating in the monsoons.
The monsoons are here! Whether you’re clicking your heels and dancing with joy or sulking at home to avoid the rains, it’s that time of the year when it’s pouring cats, dogs and, let’s not forget, bacteria!
When nature is washing everything clean and crops are getting their thirst quenched, we’ve got to be careful – more than usual – about what we’re eating and putting into our bodies.
Lovneet Bhullar Batra, Clinical Nutritionist, answers questions about eating healthy during the monsoons.
What should my monsoon game plan be?
You’re already reaching for the pakoda, aren’t you? Slow down. Your fried treats might end up making you feel slightly ill as they are salty and cause water retention.
Lovneet explains, “The moisture content in the air during monsoons is quite high. This slows down our system and digestive processes.”
The idea is to reduce the burden on your system. Fried food, heavy meals and the wrong veggies might make you feel sluggish and bloated.
And since we always recommend switching to organic food, perhaps the monsoons are a good time to start?
What should I eat to stay energetic?
Lovneet suggests you “choose easy-to-digest, low-fibre foods like veggies and fruits.” She recommends steaming or sautéing foods to get the maximum benefit. These cooking techniques render them free of contamination and also make them comfortingly warm for consumption.
If you have a fondness for salads, make them with organic veggies and cook or blanch them before eating.
What veggies or fruits are best?
“Low-fibre foods and cereals that are easier to digest are better. Monsoons are also the ideal time to go vegetarian and eschew meats,” suggests Lovneet.
She also has advice on which fruits to eat: “Always go for whole organic fruits, like apples, bananas and citrus fruits like oranges and mosambis.”
“Watery organic vegetables like ghiya, tori, tinda and turai are also a healthier option as they are low in fibre and will leave you feeling light and energetic.Herbs like turmeric and garlic are essential during this season,” says Lovneet.
Food you should avoid: Vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage that are more susceptible to worms or infection are best avoided. As are fruits like water melon.
What about eating out?
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Two words: Exercise caution.
Lovneet explains,“Food preparation hygiene can often be compromised during monsoons. I would definitely say ‘no’ to consuming food that has been sitting out, like cut fruits or veggies, due to the presence of bacteria in the air.”
Being extra-careful about the kind of restaurants you eat at and ensuring you switch to cooked food is a great idea.
So, no pakodas and chai? Sad Panda 🙁
Indulge yourself – but in moderation. And instead of oil, we’d recommend organic ghee – which we LOVE!
Lovneet agrees: “Ghee is actually an easily digestible fat, as is coconut oil. It’s also easy on the colon. It is a saturated fat but, in limited quantities, actually has benefits like increasing good cholesterol.”
Myth busted: People use olive oil as they think it makes fried food healthier, but the fact is that since olive oil has a burning point that’s quite low, it is unsuitable for frying.
What about juices and chai?
Juices are a no-go.
“Most juices end up being full of sugar, so I’d advise you to avoid those. Up to two cups of chai is fine, especially when you brew them with ginger and tulsi,” says Lovneet.
Switch to drinking hot drinks like flavoured teas for better health benefits.
I’m lazy/really busy. Can I just modify my existing meals?
Start your day with a smoothie? You don’t have to change that.
“Simply leave out the greens and use organic produce like cucumbers, bananas and more. Bananas, in particular, are full of potassium, which boosts energy and is easily digestible. Also, add seeds like chia to your smoothies for a power boost,” says Lovneet.
For those who love Indian food, she suggests dishes like “dal-chawal, which are great for lunch or dinner; they’re light, protein-rich and easily processed by your system. And while you might have a fondness for rajma or chhole, yellow moong dal is one of the best options.”
She also recommends snacks like makhana, as well as breakfast items like idlis, poha and upma.