Eating in the rain
If you don’t want to miss college during the monsoons keep away from salads and juices, says Sharmistha Ghosal
Saloni Gupta loves the rains though they mean that she has to give up her favourite foods. “I virtually live on street food and fruit cocktails but I am keeping away from these now. I don’t want to suffer an upset stomach and miss out on the first day of college,” says the youngster who was recently admitted to St Xavier’s College, Calcutta.
The heat and humidity during the monsoons are ideal for germs and allergies to thrive. The digestive system also becomes weak, leading to a host of problems such as dysentery and cholera. “Avoid oily food such as pakoras, samosas and batter-dipped fries, even if they appear irresistible during heavy showers,” says Bipasha Das, a consultant dietician at Apollo Life, a Calcutta-based wellness clinic. “As digestion becomes weak and sluggish during this season, it becomes difficult to break down food with high fat and sugar content,” adds Arpita Adhikary, a lifestyle counsellor at Apollo Hospitals, Calcutta. In other words, one should opt for foods that are grilled, steamed or baked. According to her, students like Saloni must carry food from home. “If you need to eat out, opt for South Indian food like idlis or dosas.”
Besides oily food, avoid raw fruits and vegetables in the form of salads and raitas. Since a lot of dirt — a source of bacteria — gets accumulated on fruits and green leafy vegetables, either avoid them altogether or clean them thoroughly before consumption, preferably dipping them in a potassium permanganate solution or keeping them immersed in hot water for 10 minutes. “You can eat salads but the vegetables must be blanched — plunge them briefly into boiling and then into icy water— before making the salad,” says Bhaskar Bhattacharjee, executive chef at Park Prime Hotel, Calcutta.
Ritika Agarwal, a BCA student at Heritage Academy, is extra cautious about her diet during the monsoon. “I am a vegetarian and I eat in small portions. I think that takes care of any tummy problems. Also, I drink a lot of water,” she says. Drinking lots of water flushes out all toxins and keeps the digestive system healthy. During summer you tend to feel thirsty all the time so you drink a lot of water but during the rains you don’t feel so thirsty so your water consumption tends to drop if you are not careful.
However, Das of Apollo Life cautions against drinking roadside fluids — especially fruit juice or water — to avoid contamination. Some experts advise herbal tea and soups spiced with garlic, ginger and onions.
Also, avoid milk products during the monsoon because they have the maximum chance of getting infected. Adhikary suggests eating curds instead of milk. “I am taking loads of lassi and food from home to stay on the safe side. I haven’t had a spicy chaat for ages,” says Saloni. Better safe than sorry, she says.
Eat barley, brown rice and oats
Add garlic and ginger to soups, stir fries and curries.
Blanch vegetables used in salads
Drink lassi instead of milk
Eat oily food, street food or spicy chaats
Drink water or fruit juice outside
Eat fruits like watermelon or muskmelon