Summer can prove to be a difficult time for toddlers. Fortunately, some summer foods provide respite to your children from the heat, and here we have a look at them.
By Ashwin Dewan
Summer is one season that is accompanied by many discomforts such as heatstroke, dehydration, heat rashesand sleeplessness. Most of us prefer to stay indoors and use fans and air conditioners to keep cool. Wearing light-coloured and loose clothing made of cotton also helps, a lot!
But, how many of us know that certain foods play a major role in cooling our bodies and keeping our energy levels stable during summer? Yes, the diet we follow during summer can impact our physical health to a large extent. While there are foods that can be had on a regular basis during summer, there are certain other foods that people, especially children and teens should avoid during this season.
Eating the right kind of foods not only provides us with nutrition, but also helps in handling the summer effectively.
Together with consuming grains, we also need to have fruits. Most fruits are low in fat and calories, but high in minerals and vitamins. Also, they are easily digestible, which makes them an ideal source of nutrients for children. With summer fast approaching, here are some fruits that your child would love to have to beat the heat.
1. Orange: One of the tastiest fruits enjoyed by individuals of all ages, oranges are a good source of fibre, vitamin C and several other vitamins, and minerals. They are also considered to be a good source of antioxidants.
2. Cucumber: During summer, when we lose water through perspiration, it is important to ensure that we keep replenishing the fluid lost. Due to their extremely high water content of almost 96 per cent, consuming cucumbers helps us stay hydrated. Also, cucumbers are rich in flavonoids, which, research shows, may help fight cancer.
3. Muskmelon: Not only is muskmelon a delicious fruit but also has a sweet fragrance. Along with having high water content, muskmelons are also rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene, folate and fibre.
4. Black plum or Jamun: These tasty berries are available only during summer, so make sure they aren't missing from your fruit bowl. In Ayurveda, the humble jamun has been described as a fruit having many medicinal benefits. It is considered good for the digestive system as well as for those having diabetes. It also helps in in improving oral health by controlling bleeding gums.
5. Watermelons: These are the ultimate cooling food for children. Not only do they quench the thirst due to their high water content (watermelons contain 92 per cent water), but also keep the stomach full for long hours. Watermelons are packed with vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, apart from antioxidants and amino acids. They even contain traces of potassium. Children can have watermelons in limited quantities throughout the day to stay hydrated.
Note: You should be careful while buying from roadside vendors as the watermelon slices may not be hygienic. So, it’s always safe to buy a whole fruit.
6. Tomatoes: The humble tomato provides many benefits, one of which is cooling the body temperature. In fact, tomatoes are 94 per cent water and can help in hydration and promotion of regular bowel movement. In case your child does not like eating tomatoes, offer tomato juice mixed with honey or tiny slices of tomatoes mixed in their food.
1. Fermented rice gruel: Also called Kanji or Kanjika or Congee, used to be a popular staple breakfast in East and South India. However, not many have it nowadays. It is consumed with side dish such as pickles or curry, or just mixed with buttermilk and salt. Apart from cooling the body, fermented rice gruel is also considered to be rich in B6 and B12.
2. Yogurt/Curd/Buttermilk: Yogurt or curd is a great summer food due to its cooling properties. A staple in most Indian homes, this dairy wonder is also good for the digestive system of a toddler. It is a source of calcium and protein, and is loaded with various other nutrients. Buttermilk is also an easily digestible and refreshable drink which not only cools the body but is rich in vitamin B12, potassium, calcium, riboflavin and phosphorus.
Note: Children can have yogurt/curd in different ways such as as a glass of lassi, buttermilk and raita.
3. Coconut water: Inexpensive, tasty and loaded with nutrients, coconut water is the ultimate thirst quencher for children. Known for its wonderful cooling properties, coconut water is full of simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals that aid in keeping the body hydrated in the midst of the scorching heat.
According to an article, The Benefits of Drinking Coconut Water, published in Livestrong.com, by Sylvie Tremblay MSC, coconut water contains a considerable amount of fibre, and thus helps in keeping your little one's tummy full for longer periods. The fibre content also regulates the blood sugar, thereby making it a healthy choice of drink for toddlers.
4. Onions: They are one of the most easily available food items that cools your bodyl. You can add them to your curries, dips, salad and raitas. Onions are also rich in quercetin, which is an anti-allergen. Children can consume onions to protect themselves from sunstroke.
Note: To get the full benefit of onions, try to eat them raw.
5. Leafy green vegetables: Turning vegetarian in summer comes with a host of benefits. Leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and lettuce are perfect to keep your children adequately hydrated during the hot months. These have the perfect water content and are easy on the digestive system. Since leafy greens contain a significant amount of water, they help in assisting the body to release heat. You could make salads and soups using leafy green vegetables, and your children will love them.
6. Mint: This is a cooling herb that can be used as an addition in food items or simply eaten by itself. A simple, inexpensive and easily available herb, mint can also help in digestion in children. You can try adding mint to curd or make mint juice for your children.
Note: You can grow mint in a small pot at home for your own usage. Mint is commonly known as Pudina in India.
7. Lemon water: Apart from being a great summer drink, both for its taste and cooling effect, lemon water can also help in treating indigestion, constipation and dental problems. Lemon water is rich in vitamin C and is good for children’s skin too. It can be had sweet, salted, or by adding a pinch of black salt and cumin powder to it.
8. Salads: Having a bowl of salad in every day in summer can work wonders for your health. Not only does it satiate your hunger and is a good source of fibre but also low in calories and fats. You can browse the Internet for some exciting and healthy salad recipes or come up with your own.
9. Broccoli: This vegetable is not only full of nutrients but also comprises 91 per cent water. So, apart from being delicious and healthy, broccoli also keeps your children hydrated. It is also high in fibre, which aids digestion, prevents constipation and maintains low blood sugar. Broccoli also promotes weight loss and healthy vision. So, go ahead and give this wonder food to your children this summer.
10. Gulkand: Found usually at the supermarkets and health stores, gulkand is a great food item to have during summer. It not only prevents acidity but also contains cooling ingredients such as rose petals and other herbs that are beneficial for health. It facilitates digestion and reduces the burning sensation in the body caused by the heat.
Note: Gulkand is available in bottles at all leading stores. This can be mixed with milk and given to children.
Also read: Summer camps are a good way to keep them engaged and happy. Check out some of the best camps in Chennai!
Summer is a wonderful time. It spells out holidays, vacation and FUN! But while having a good time together as a family, ensure to take the right measures to keep your child's body cool this summer. Keep her hydrated with adequate amounts of water and ensure a healthy diet that includes these super foods.
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