Eat­ing Right and Stay­ing Healthy This Sum­mer

Consumer Voice - - Contents -

Sum­mer has its own charm. De­spite the blis­ter­ing heat, many of us ac­tu­ally look for­ward to the sea­son as it is syn­ony­mous with va­ca­tions. Schools and col­leges shut down for the sum­mers and fam­i­lies make their hol­i­day plans. On the other hand, sum­mer is also no­to­ri­ous for ail­ments like heat stroke, de­hy­dra­tion, stomach up­set and di­ar­rhoea. This means we need to take care of our diet and life­style to be able to en­joy the sea­son.

What­ever the sea­son, one is al­ways ad­vised to eat a ‘bal­anced diet’. The con­cept of a bal­anced diet is to try to bal­ance the amount of dif­fer­ent types of foods one eats ev­ery day in or­der to de­rive all the nour­ish­ment the body needs. Foods have been clas­si­fied into dif­fer­ent groups to make this task eas­ier. Choos­ing wisely from each food group is im­por­tant, ir­re­spec­tive of age, in or­der to bal­ance one’s diet. The quan­tity of foods selected can vary depend­ing on age, body weight and gen­der. Foods are gen­er­ally di­vided into five groups.

1. Ce­real grains and their prod­ucts. This food group in­cludes all ce­re­als like rice, rice flakes or chidwa, puffed rice or mur­mura, wheat, dalia, sooji, atta, maida, ragi, ba­jra, maize, corn­flakes, jowar and bar­ley, as well as foods made with these like bread, rusk, bis­cuits and pasta. Ce­re­als are a good source of en­ergy and protein and also pro­vide us with other im­por­tant nu­tri­ents like fi­bre, B-vi­ta­mins, iron and cal­cium. As fi­bre and B-vi­ta­mins are gen­er­ally present in the outer bran layer of ce­re­als, it is bet­ter to have whole ce­re­als like un­pol­ished brown rice in­stead of pol­ished white rice, whole wheat atta in­stead of maida, whole-wheat bread in­stead of white bread, and so on.

In sum­mers, se­lect the ce­re­als you are com­fort­able eat­ing but do pay at­ten­tion to the type of prepa­ra­tion. For in­stance, fried prepa­ra­tions like poori and paran­tha are not rec­om­mended as these are en­er­gy­dense and tend to re­lease more heat in the body. Rice and phulkas (ro­tis) are lighter al­ter­na­tives. Sattu in

shar­bat form is a par­tic­u­larly re­fresh­ing drink to be en­joyed dur­ing sum­mers. It is made from roasted gram flour and bar­ley (jau) flour.

2. Pulses and legumes. All dals come in this group, viz. chana, moong, ma­soor, urad and arhar, as well as ra­jmah, chana, lo­bia, soya bean, peas, beans and prod­ucts made from them or their flour like be­san, soya nuggets and soya gran­ules. Pulses give us en­ergy and are a rich source of protein. Pulses are also good sources of fi­bre and B-vi­ta­mins, es­pe­cially those that are eaten with the seed coat (sabut dals). Iron and cal­cium are also present in this food group.

The dal prepa­ra­tions should not have too much added ghee, cream or fat like in makhani dal. Sprouts eaten af­ter slight steam­ing and sea­son­ing are a good snack or salad.

The qual­ity of protein from pulses or ce­re­als by them­selves is not as good as that present in milk, eggs or meat. But pulses and ce­re­als when taken to­gether, like in the form of dal-chawal or dal-roti, greatly en­hance the protein qual­ity in the meal.

3. Milk and meat prod­ucts. This food group pri­mar­ily pro­vides us with good-qual­ity protein and hence is very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially dur­ing child­hood when the body is grow­ing rapidly as also dur­ing preg­nancy. Adults also need protein to main­tain the nor­mal func­tion­ing of their bod­ies and to look af­ter re­pair of worn-out body parts and tis­sues.

Milk and milk prod­ucts like curd, cheese, khoa and pa­neer are also rich sources of cal­cium, which is cru­cial for bone health. Full-cream milk is rich in sat­u­rated fat and choles­terol, un­de­sir­able for those with high blood choles­terol lev­els or those suf­fer­ing from di­a­betes or heart dis­ease. In fact, all adults, whether suf­fer­ing from a dis­ease or not, should cut down on in­take of full-cream milk and prod­ucts made from it and re­place it with dou­ble-toned or skimmed milk.

In sum­mers, curd and prod­ucts made from it like lassi, but­ter­milk or chaach, smooth­ies and milk shakes with fruit should be pre­ferred to hot milk bev­er­ages.

Meat and meat prod­ucts in­clude the flesh of an­i­mals like chicken, goat, sheep, pig and cow; seafood like fish, shrimp, prawn, oys­ter and mus­sel; eggs and meat prod­ucts like ba­con, ham, sausage and salami. Be­sides be­ing rich sources of protein, meats also con­tain iron in a read­ily ab­sorbable form. Since these foods are also a source of sat­u­rated fat and choles­terol, lean cuts of meat are ad­vised. Oily gravies and fried prepa­ra­tions are dif­fi­cult to digest and are not rec­om­mended in sum­mers.

Meat, es­pe­cially fish and other seafood, tends to spoil very fast dur­ing sum­mers and hence one is ad­vised to ex­er­cise care when buy­ing or eat­ing the same. Due to lack of ba­sic hy­giene and safe food­han­dling prac­tices in many places, raw meat can be highly con­tam­i­nated with mi­crobes. Buy meat prod­ucts from clean stores that have good re­frig­er­a­tion fa­cil­ity (with power backup). Eat meat and meat prod­ucts only af­ter thor­ough cook­ing; else they can lead to food poi­son­ing.

4. Fruits and veg­eta­bles. This is per­haps the most ne­glected food group, with most of us eat­ing very lit­tle of fruit and veg­eta­bles. Sur­pris­ing it is, con­sid­er­ing a large part of the In­dian pop­u­la­tion is veg­e­tar­ian! The in­take of veg­eta­bles per meal on an aver­age is low. In the case of fruits the sit­u­a­tion is starker, with a far lower in­take quan­tity in gen­eral. What is rec­om­mended as de­sir­able daily in­take is about half a kilo­gram of fruits and veg­eta­bles (com­bined weight).

Fruits and veg­eta­bles are full of im­por­tant chemical com­pounds called phy­to­chem­i­cals, vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and fi­bre and are con­sid­ered to be pro­tec­tive foods. They pro­tect our bod­ies from a host of in­fec­tious dis­eases and other dis­eases like di­a­betes and heart dis­ease. Of all the veg­eta­bles, green leafy veg­eta­bles like spinach, me­thi, cholai and other saags are a store­house of nu­tri­ents. The points to re­mem­ber while choos­ing veg­eta­bles and fruits are: • Eat sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and fruits. They are

cheaper and are more nu­tri­tious. • Al­ways in­clude a va­ri­ety – don’t stick to the same veg­eta­bles ev­ery day. Veg­eta­bles equiv­a­lent to about 3–4 medium-sized bowls for adults (and about half of that for chil­dren up to 10 years) and about two fruits ev­ery day are rec­om­mended. • Try to in­clude as many nat­u­ral colours. In fruits and veg­eta­bles, na­ture pre­sents a bounty of colours – white, red, or­ange, yel­low, green and pur­ple. Each colour pig­ment of­fers a dif­fer­ent kind of pro­tec­tion, so go ahead and add colour to your menu. • Eat­ing raw veg­eta­bles will en­sure you get some vi­ta­mins like Vi­ta­min C which get de­stroyed dur­ing cook­ing. But be sure to wash thor­oughly any fruit or veg­etable you eat with the peel, to re­move germs and chem­i­cals like pes­ti­cides that stick to the sur­face. Eat­ing the peel also en­sures you get more fi­bre. Raw fruits and veg­eta­bles are the main sources of food-poi­son­ing out­breaks. These typ­i­cally get served as sal­ads or desserts in wed­dings and par­ties, wher­ever mass cater­ing is be­ing done with scant at­ten­tion to food hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion. One must take care to avoid these. The am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture in sum­mers is ideal for bac­te­ria, fungi and other food-spoilage micro­organ­isms to mul­ti­ply. Many food-poi­son­ing out­breaks orig­i­nate at home too, as many people omit to wash hands be­fore han­dling food or leave cooked food at room tem­per­a­ture for more than two hours – just enough time for mi­cro­bial degra­da­tion.

Sum­mer veg­eta­bles like gourds – ghia, torai, pumpkin, cu­cum­ber, etc. – which are high in wa­ter con­tent are pre­ferred. Mint or pu­d­ina has cool­ing prop­er­ties. You can have it in the form of a min­tade (drink made from brew­ing mint leaves), chut­ney, etc. Veg­eta­bles and fruits are high in an­tiox­i­dants (chem­i­cals that help to fight free rad­i­cals/charged mol­e­cules that cause ex­ten­sive dam­age to our body, leading to dis­eases like di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and cancer). Mel­ons (khar­booza and tar­booz) pro­vide spe­cial re­lief from heat as they are high in wa­ter con­tent. Toma­toes and wa­ter­mel­ons (tar­booz) are es­pe­cially rich in the an­tiox­i­dant ly­copene, known for re­duc­ing the risk of cancer and de­gen­er­a­tive changes in the eyes. The in­flam­ma­tion-fight­ing an­tiox­i­dants in wa­ter­melon may also re­duce risk of com­pli­ca­tions of di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, cancer and arthri­tis. Over­all, since all fruits and veg­eta­bles have some spe­cial qual­ity or the other, eat­ing a va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles and fruits is a great shield against dis­ease.

5. Fats and sug­ars. Fats and sug­ars pro­vide us with en­ergy. Fats in­clude cook­ing oil, but­ter, ghee, nuts (peanuts, al­monds, cashew nuts, co­conuts, etc.) and oilseeds like til and mus­tard. Sug­ars in­clude su­gar, jag­gery or gur, and honey. Eat­ing too much of both fats and sug­ars is not de­sir­able in any sea­son. Three to four tea­spoons of su­gar/honey in a day are more than enough for an adult. If you can ac­tu­ally see oil float­ing in your dal and gravies, or stick­ing to your veg­eta­bles, you are us­ing too much oil. For a healthy adult with a seden­tary life­style, not more than four to five tea­spoons of vis­i­ble fat (cook­ing oil, ghee, but­ter, etc.) are rec­om­mended. Oily and creamy foods should be avoided as they are dif­fi­cult to digest and will gen­er­ate a lot of heat in the body, in­creas­ing dis­com­fort lev­els.

Use of tra­di­tional spices and condi­ments is gen­er­ally rec­om­mended in pre­par­ing dishes as these have many chem­i­cals in them which are ben­e­fi­cial to our health. How­ever, very spicy dishes are not ad­vised dur­ing sum­mer as they are heat-gen­er­at­ing and can lead to acid­ity. Salt is a sea­son­ing that should be added spar­ingly. The cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions for adults are not to have more than five grams (one tea­spoon) of salt in a day.

For bal­anc­ing your diet and eat­ing healthy through sum­mer, you need to in­clude all food groups in your daily diet. You should also choose a va­ri­ety of foods from each food group. The num­ber of meals one has in a day de­pends on in­di­vid­ual life­style. It is, how­ever, rec­om­mended to have smaller and more fre­quent meals rather than two or three large meals in a day. Large meals are more dif­fi­cult to digest and also in­crease your ten­dency to put on weight (es­pe­cially if you make din­ner your heav­i­est meal for the day!). Ac­tu­ally you should have a hearty break­fast to get you go­ing for the day, fol­lowed by a good lunch, a snack with your evening tea, and a light din­ner. Try to give a gap of at least two hours be­tween din­ner and hit­ting the bed.

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