In India, the rainy season gives little ones the perfect excuse to get wet and splash in puddles, especially after a scorching summer. However, monsoons also usher in common bacterial and viral infections, bouts of cold and flu, as well as insect-borne diseases. Owing to the drop in temperature and the humidity, harmful microbial organisms tend to proliferate and attack weak immune systems. Metabolism is also slow during this time of the year. Hence, to help your child enjoy the rains without falling sick, you need to pay extra attention to the food he eats.
Here are how a few things to keep in mind during the rains.
- To beat the cold: Light jackets and raincoats are not sufficient to keep your child safe against the sudden fall in temperature. Serving hot foods and beverages is a must too. Sipping on hot beverages such as soups, stews, shorbas, milk, and herbal drinks can be very soothing, warming and even hydrating. Encourage your toddler to drink warm, filtered water all the time. This will reduce the risk of infections and water-borne diseases. Try various recipes and combine ingredients from major food groups, so that he or she gets a variety of nutrients. Meals must be freshly prepared and you should try and avoid leftovers. You can steam, boil, bake or pressure-cook any food to destroy all harmful microorganisms that rapidly multiply during the rains. Though deep-fried snacks taste amazing during the monsoons, try and moderate their consumption.
- Go fresh: Purchasing fresh ingredients and using them quickly is going to be a helpful practice. Remember, the more fresh the food, the more nutrients your child gets. As ingredients get older, they constantly lose their nutrient content. Even practices such as chopping fruits and vegetables much before the actual cooking can expose their internal surfaces and lead to nutrient loss. Since immunity and metabolism are going low during monsoon, the best possible nutrients must be supplied to counter infections. Also, eating out should be avoided as you never know if restaurants are using fresh produce or not.
- Spice it up: India has been known for its many spices, for ages. So, experiment with a wide variety. Each kind of spice is a powerhouse of nutrients and many of them can boost body heat too. Turmeric, cloves, black pepper and so on are great for managing colds, sore throats and coughs. Don’t forget the herbs too! Basil leaves, for instance, are ideal for enhancing immunity. Ginger and garlic have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can keep common ailments at bay. The best part about all of these is that they can be easily incorporated in any savoury dish.
- Embrace seasonal products: For every season, nature provides exactly what we need in terms of fruits and veggies. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are rich in those nutrients that are required during that time of the year. And this is no different for the monsoon season. So, try and include locally available and seasonal foods in your child’s diet. Fruits like jamun, pomegranates, lychees, apples and peaches are available during this season and are full of vitamins and minerals. Dry fruits, seeds and nuts are also healthy options if you are preparing a snack for your child. These are easily available, easy to preserve, and simple to incorporate in savoury or sweet dishes!
- Make hygiene a priority: As a parent, teaching hygienic habits is a must during monsoon. Apart from washing all utensils and food products thoroughly, make sure your child washes his hands and feet after coming back from school or a game. Hot water baths are essential too, apart from using antimicrobial liquids while washing clothes. If your child has a cold, teach him to cover his mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. Don’t let him stay in wet clothes for long. Make sure he wears covered shoes during this season to reduce the risk of worm or microbial infestation.
So, there you are, all armed to help your little one welcome the monsoon season with health and happiness. Good food and proper hygiene can not only keep him safe from common illnesses, but also improve his energy and spirits.