Monsoon meals: Here’s how to stay healthy with right foods for the season
You might love the rains or hate the rainy season. Either way, the monsoon brings with it some dramatic changes to your physiology. If you know how to tweak your diet and lifestyle to cope with these external changes in the season, you can do a lot to support your body.
What matters is understanding the changes and learning to go with them. You need to remember that you always have to eat differently and live differently whenever the seasons change, in order for your body to move harmoniously through them.
The biggest impact to your body during the monsoon is that your digestion will not be the same. This thought needs to be at the root of all change.
This means that you need to change what you eat, so that you eat food that is easier to digest, both in terms of the food itself and in the method of preparation. You don't need to add any superfoods. I believe that superfoods only become superfoods when they are used in the right manner at the right time.
Begin your day with hot beverages and a warm breakfast during the monsoon
The sun is a great disinfectant as it prevents microbial attack and the growth of mould. Monsoons can become a time where there is a higher risk for any kind of infection. It is important to safeguard against leftover foods, as there is a higher risk of contracting gastrointestinal infections.
Now that you know these two things that you have to keep in mind about the monsoons, I want to actually explain how you can apply this to your diet and lifestyle.
- Avoid leaving food outside all day and consuming it at night. Avoid eating leftovers at all. Leftovers raise histamine levels in food, making them more prone to causing an allergic reaction.
- Your circadian rhythm is very critical during the monsoon. Sleeping at odd times during the day, especially post a heavy lunch, will weaken your digestion even more. Since your digestion is already weak, it will make it even more sluggish, causing gas, bloating, acidity and indigestion.
Exercise is very important during the monsoon
- Move your body every day with some form of exercise, as this will help get your lymphatic system moving and make you less prone to infections or microbial attacks.
- Cold water can be a problem during this season, as it will cause the lymphatic system to get congested, making you more prone to infections. Sipping warm or hot water throughout the day will help circulation, lymphatic movement and elimination, thereby improving digestion.
- Eat food that is easier on digestion and which are broken down, like soups, stews and curries, rather than cold salads or smoothies. Raw foods are not ideal during the monsoons.
Best foods for the monsoon
- Begin your day with a warm breakfast. A millet porridge made with ghee and some nut butter is a good option. You could also eat warm Indian breakfasts like brown rice poha made with some ghee, sweet potatoes, green peas and lots of Indian spices to fire up the digestive system.
Poha is both delicious and healthy for the rainy season
- Indian foods are great for the monsoons, as they are loaded with herbs and spices that improve digestion. A great lunch would be dals that are easier to digest, like moong and masoor dal.
- Adding ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel and asafetida makes the food flavourful and improves digestion. Combine it with a variety of grains like red rice, black rice, millet or quinoa. Add generous amounts of ghee and a vegetable dish like bhindi which has soluble fibres to help digestion, and you have yourself a winning monsoon lunch!
- Avoid dairy which is very heavy to digest during the monsoon. Staying away from milk, ice creams and cheese is the best way to keep yourself at low risk for getting a gut infection. Gut infections are greatly increased during the monsoon, and the biggest culprits are usually dairy based products. This is not the time for dairy.
- You can include some lean meats like freshwater fish and some free-range eggs for breakfast or lunch. Stay away from heavier animal proteins which are harder to digest, unless you combine them with excellent spices that fire up digestion. You can also include boiled ginger tea as a digestive support with your meals.
- Eat lemon, limes, apples, cherries, pomegranate which are more astringent and reduce the monsoon’s impact on your body.
Brew some tea
A good digestive tea can boost your immunity during the monsoon
Here is my favourite tea for the monsoon days…
Boil some ginger, a tablespoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds in two cups of water. Reduce the quantity to one cup. Strain and consume with your meal.
This is a simple tea which makes a world of difference to your digestion in the monsoon. Since your digestion is at the root of immunity, improving your digestion is the best way to support your health and prevent an infection this monsoon!