Saturday, May 14, 2005


Summer coolers

Beat the heat with comfort foods and lifestyle changes, says Vimla Patil

Savour drinks and foods that soothe the stomach
Savour drinks and foods that soothe the stomach

WHEN everything fails, one goes for good old tradition and back-to-roots philosophy for solutions to modern problems. With all that partying and night life — which have become the hallmark of modern urban life — the health barometer of most young people is sure to show a downward graph in the sizzling summer months ahead, when the sun shines fiercely and hot air makes even the healthiest among us sweaty and breathless with fatigue.

This is a good time to go back to basics and reinvent a lifestyle to achieve good health and shining looks, which guarantee a stress-free lifestyle even in the worst summer heat. Here is a short guide to comfort foods and a stress-free lifestyle in the summer:

Drink fluids: The suggested drinks are: home-made lemonade with rock salt and honey; diluted buttermilk with rock salt and cumin powder; tender coconut water with a drop of rose water; iced tea with a touch of mint leaves; iced milk mixed with a little water and garnished with saffron; juice of watermelons, oranges or other fruit. Drink at least eight glasses of clean, cool water per day.

Oil-free food: Eat at least one meal of oil-less food in a day. This can consist of boiled or braised vegetables, salads with simple dressings, soups without ghee or oil and dals or legumes with a minimum of spices like cumin or mustard.

Vegetarian fare: Eat vegetarian food as far as possible. Avoid refined flour, oil or ghee and strong spices in your food. Try out a new natural cuisine in which the original colour of the vegetable is retained through the cooking process. Do not add spices by habit.

Stick to comfort foods: When lethargy overtakes you, go for rice kanji, yoghurt rice, light soups and salads that keep the stomach light and healthy. Sliced fruit are ideal for desserts. Herbal teas, milky drinks and lightly spiced buttermilk are ideal drinks to soothe the stomach.

Eat less: Ayurveda recommends that one-third of your stomach should be full of food, one-third should be full of water and one-third should be empty for wind. Eating less conserves and creates energy during hot summer months. This habit creates an energetic lightness in one’s walk, which reduces the tiredness generated by heat.

Keep fit: Regular exercise, fragrant baths relaxing regimens help to keep one’s cool in the hot months of summer. Ideally, one should walk or exercise in a green environment because that colour is soothing. It is important to spend at least one hour silently in one’s own company everyday, keeping the mind free of worry, stress, judgment and remorse.

Complete rest: It is important to sleep well and restfully, for at least six hours, in a well-ventilated room. Just as one washes one’s body or face before retiring, it is important to wash one’s mind of thoughts that have created stress and worry during the day. Remember to tell yourself that you are not in control of the world. When you lie down to sleep, leave the cares of the world to the divine power you believe in.

Be pleasant: Believe in your power to create pleasantness and freshness around you. Take every action that helps you to create peace and happiness around you. Speak with respect and love with everyone around and you’ll automatically bring a magical coolness around yourself.

If you practise these eight tenets for the hot summer ahead, the heat will pass and the welcome showers of the monsoon will arrive sooner than you think.