Summer is absolutely lovely here in New York. The city is buzzing with people and there's an 'up and about' vibe everywhere... families and friends bond over picnics at city parks, others spend time together at outdoor festivals and events, friends hang out at open cafes or rooftop bars, and people sunbathe on the High Line or wherever they deem fit. Many people just wander around aimlessly… enjoying the sun’s warmth and taking in the sights and sounds of the city. There are flowers on most NYC walkways and the trees are green and full of life. You can't help but fall in love with the city all over again.
If you look closely, nature is also abuzz this time of the year. Birds are busy chirping their sweet song while groundhogs step out to enjoy and nourish their bodies by eating sweet succulent grass. Pollinators, especially bees and butterflies, are seen almost everywhere performing their daily routine. Yes – summer is the most active time of the year... but it does come with its own set of challenges, such as dehydration, diarrhoea from summer heat, acidity, skin flare ups, and emotional outbursts. Not to worry! I've got you covered!
Here are some things you can do to stay healthy this summer!
Drink plenty of fluids. With all that outdoor activity, it's important to stay hydrated. Spending long hours outdoors, when the sun is shining bright and strong, will leave you dehydrated if you don't replenish your body's water stores every few hours. Even if you are indoors with the AC turned on, make sure you stay hydrated. Here are some tips:
Always carry a bottle of water with you when you head out.
At home, try storing filtered/distilled water in a clay pot instead of a refrigerator. The water tastes absolutely divine and is as cool as it would be in a refrigerator.
If you don't like plain water, add lemon, berries, cucumber, or mint to the water and keep it aside for a couple of hours. Drink this refreshing water whenever you feel like. Don't forget to eat what's in it!
Cold soups, vegetable and fruit juices, cool drinks, or herb infusions would also be great options to keep you hydrated.
Just a word of caution - Don't overdo the juices and fluids because excess sweet and water tend to cause a damp condition in the body.
Eat the rainbow. Greens, vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers of all colors, shapes, and sizes are available during this season. So why not take advantage and eat as many colors you can get your hands on? Prepare colorful plates and bowls of food that are packed with vitamins and minerals to replenish the body's essential nutrient stores.
Eat light. The Heart is the organ of this season. So lighten its load by eating simple, light food that is a combination of raw and warm foods. Excess raw food kills the stomach's digestive fire (which is already weak in the summer) and causes dampness in the body, which is a big cause for candida! So eat raw, but in moderation. Opt for cool drinks, cold soups, salads, light stews, lightly-tossed food, water-based food, one pot meals, and quick stir fries.
Coconut water, sugarcane juice, aloevera juice, green juice, vegetable juice with a bit of fruit, lemon water with berries, light buttermilk (chaach), aam panna (raw mango drink), rose-flavored milk, elderflower syrup in water, and thandai (cooling nut milk) are few examples of cool drinks that you can opt for in summer.
Cooling, refreshing, or calming herbs infusions such as peppermint, lemon balm, rose, and chamomile are great in the summertime.
Go easy on caffeine and alcohol. Both are stimulating and drying. So they are best avoided. If you still want alcohol, white wine and beer are your best bets! Fix salads, stews, and stir-fries with lots of vegetables and some optional lean protein/grain.
Cold soups, such as watermelon gazpacho, are refreshing and can be eaten with a side of sourdough as a snack or for breakfast.
Eat salads everyday for at least one meal (either on the side or as the whole meal).
A dollop of green coriander and mint chutney on the side of at least one meal is a good idea in the summers.
Eat fruits, but as a snack!
This is 'the time of the year' to enjoy fruits because they are cooling and cleansing. They are also packed with water, sugar, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals. So, they are a great way of restoring water levels in the body that tend to get depleted when we are outside, enjoying the summer heat. So, eat some seasonal fruit everyday. If you like to add fruit to a juice, make sure you add just one fruit or a handful of berries to a green juice or a vegetable juice.
Enjoy dairy in moderation. Dairy is cooling but very dampening. So enjoy it in moderation. Look out for fresh cheeses such as fresh mozzarella, and goat cheese at your local farmer's market because the milk yield is high this time of the year. Favor them over hard aged cheese this time of the year. With so much of grass to graze on, cows give milk that is more nutritious at this time. You can also enjoy ice cream, occasionally - especially if you are feeling very hot.
Keep it bitter-sweet with a bit of astringent. Nature produces an abundance of sweet fruits and bitter-astringent greens and vegetables, such as zucchini and bitter melon/gourd, in the summer. While you should have all five flavors on your plate, make sure you at least have some bitter and astringent on your plate.
Avoid fried food and overly-spicy food. Unlike popular belief, fried food, overly-spicy food, and barbecued meats are an absolute 'no-no' for the summer. These foods are very heating and will just aggravate any heat symptoms that you already have. And if you still have barbequed anything, make sure to serve a large portion of fresh salad and some cucumber-berry-lemon water on the side.
Up your Vitamin D. This is the best time of the year to build your Vitamin D stores so step out everyday for at least 30-45 minutes, preferably in the early morning or evening when you can feel the sun's warmth not its heat.
Keep your emotions in check. If you are feeling very angry or irritable, meditate, paint, go for a walk, or dance it off. It's best to channelize your abundant 'yang' energy creatively instead of shouting and screaming, which will create a disharmony of the heart.
Socialize and have fun. If you truly tune into nature, you will see that everything in nature is having a good time during summer. So, take a cue and go out, meet people, socialize (even if you don't want to), go on a hike or a family picnic, head to the beach, and have some fun!
NOTE: The tips listed here assume that you are reasonably healthy and don't have any disease or chronic condition because of which you have to follow a restricted diet.