- It is important to introduce changes in your diet according to season
- Prepare foods like sheera or halwa to strengthen those who fall sick
- Make them with ghee, jaggery and nuts
Every change of season brings with itself a few challenges, health-wise. It is because of this reason that eating seasonal plays a huge role. Not only is it good for your weight, it is also beneficial for your overall health and immunity. With the rising air pollution and temperature dipping every day, it is important that we bring changes in our diet, especially the ones that help up cope with the changing environment around us. Foods like ghee, jaggery and homemade halwa can take you a long in terms of achieving this goal.
Foods like halwa, sheera, haldi doodh etc have been age-old remedies that are given as the first few treatment for cough, cold, body aches, pains, and several other ailments. Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, in one of her Insta posts, talks about how gaud sheera or sooji halwa were the dishes that every household made to "nurse their sick back to strength".
Rightly so! Traditionally, these dishes are prepared in an iron kadhai. Ghee, milk, sugar, kesar and dried fruits are added as essential ingredients. It helped in managing their appetite and aided speedy recovery, mentions Diwekar in the caption of her post.
Halwa/ sheera and why you must eat it now - One dish that every household made to nurse their sick back to strength was gaud sheera or sooji halwa. Roasted in an iron Kadhai, cooked in ghee & milk, spiced with sugar, kesar & dry fruits. It stroked their appetite, lifted their spirits and led to a speedy recovery. This is also why the sheera was also celebrated as the mandatory Prasad at every Puja. These pujas were traditionally planned around seasonal changes and everyone getting a dose of this Prasad worked like an immunity boosting shot of sorts. Then the food industry displaced our common sense approach of eating according to the season with the fear of sugar. Sugar is poison, it told us. And even as sugar consumption through colas, cookies, chocolates rose, the cooking & celebration of seasons and festivals with sheera, laddoo & barfi dropped. Eating ultra-processed food is poison whether it has sugar or it's substitute. Eating home cooked & in sync with season is healthy for the planet & it's people. Scientists warn of many more pandemics in the future. The human behaviour that leads to climate change & biodiversity loss is exactly what will bring pandemics too, they say. Truth be told, mindless consumption is poison, not sugar. PS - The recently concluded Navratri festival ended with the celebratory meal of chana pooori & halwa. PPS - what's the celebratory meal of your region?
So whenever you feel under the weather and get symptoms like sore throat, mild fever, cough, cold congestion, foods like sheera and halwa can be of great help.
Other immunity boosting foods that can help you stay healthy in winter:
1. Turmeric milk: A cup of haldi doodh at night, with jaggery, cinnamon and some dried ginger powder, will help you sleep well and also boost your immunity naturally.
2. Leafy green veggies: Spinach, mustard greens and fenugreek leaves are a few of the many leafy green vegetables that are in season in winter. Include them in your daily diet to get iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants, folate, Vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and iron to name a few.
3. Carrots: Carrots are available in abundance in winter. This fibre-rich vegetable is a great souce of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and lutein. Eating carrots regularly can be good for your eye health and immunity.
4. Beetroot: This bright red vegetable is great for managing blood pressure and improving blood circulation. It can help in preventing constipation and combating fatigue. It is good for digestion and helps in boosting your immunity naturally.
5. Turnips: This is another vegetable which is in season in winter. It has a rich antioxidant profile and provides Vitamin K and A. It can be good for bone health, digestion and immunity.
All in all, consuming a well-balanced and healthy diet in winter, which includes all food groups: carbs, fats, proteins and fibre, can help you stay strong and healthy in winter.
(Rujuta Diwekar is a nutritionist based in Mumbai)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.