Foods to fight the heat: keep your kids cool this summer
Pediatric Nutritionist, BSc, Post Graduate in Nutrition and Dietetics, PhD (Std)
- Posted On April 10, 2017
Its Summer time folks… Along with the enchanting sights and sounds that summertime brings, comes the season of flowers and fruits. The perennial plants grow and flowers bloom beautifully during these months. Summer is thus also called the fruiting season. Many vines, shrubs, trees and flowering plants produce fleshy fruit and vegetables. A wide range of fresh seasonal produce is locally available in the markets and we must take advantage of these nutritious and energy packed foods to keep summer heat away.
Summer is also the most awaited season by children as schools and colleges shut down and grant them a long summer break to rejuvenate and relaxbefore they start their next academic year. Its vacation time, children are thus more relaxed and actively participate in activities around them. Thus, taking care of their food intake and serving them energy dense foods is very essential for their growth and optimal performance.
Understanding seasonal foods is important as they:
- Available in abundance
- Are better to taste,
- Packed with macro and micronutrients
- Contain less chemicals and pesticides than the non-seasonal foods, thus they benefit our health as well as the environment.
Therefore, during the sultry summers,we must opt for foods that are harvested during this season as they help attain the nutritional requirements. For example: A lot of fresh foods and vegetables are available in summer and these play an important role in maintaining our body’s temperature by acting as coolants and help us combat the high temperatures.Summers in India commence from March and ends by June before the arrival of the monsoons. The summer season or the "Greeshma Ritu” is extremely hot where temperatures may reach as high as 42- 43⁰C at some places in the country which predisposes kids to sweating and dehydration so restoring the fluids and salts as well providing energy is important.
Foods highly recommended for children in summers:
Cereals: Whole grains and millets like jowar, barley, rice, brown rice, ragi,sago arrow root flour are cooling cereals and must be incorporated in your child’s diet.
Pulses: Sprouted pulses are rich in Vitamin C and hence are wholesome foods which can be added to raitas, parathas to make simple complete meals.
Fruits: A variety of cooling and alkaline fruits that help the body cool are grown in summers. These include the king of all fruits– Mango. While other summer fruits are Watermelon, Muskmelon, jamun, Lychee, Oranges, sweet lime, guava, papaya and banana. All these summer fruits contain good amount of moisture, fibre, antioxidants and acts as coolants thus providing energy and preventing dehydration in children.
Dry fruits- Dry fruits especially black currants and raisins are very good coolants for our system. Other dry fruits like figs, apricots and dates can also be given to children to replenish their energy stores between their play or sport time. Sweet healthy titbits serving as mid meal munches.
Vegetables: Vegetables like cucumber, tomato, Spinach, lady finger, pumpkin, bottle gourd, capsicum, bell peppers, gourd vegetables and its varieties, Potato, bitter gourd and radish are some of the foods available and healthy to consume and incorporate in children’s diet in summer.
Rehydrating Beverages: Coconut water, lime juice, fruit juices, fruit smoothies, frozen fruit yogurts, sugarcane juice and infused water must be consumed by children over regular time intervals to keep them energized and hydrated at all times of the day. Fresh herbs like mint can add freshness to the juices, smoothies and yogurt and also cool the body down.
Water: Besides consuming hydrating beverages children must also consume adequate amount of water in order to maintain normal electrolyte balance, facilitate body processes and cleanse the body.
In order to keep your child fit, active, energetic and healthy incorporate these seasonal foods and beverages in his daily summer diet to boost his performance at play time, during sports activities, during summer camps or while traveling on a summer holiday. Try to incorporate local seasonal foods of the place you visit during holidays in your family’s diet to stay healthy while you explore.
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