It is customary in Western culture to offer a tall glass of ice water at every table setting. While this makes sense from the standpoint of cleansing the palate and having "something to wash your food down with" - why does it have to be ice cold? It seems that the icy temperature is an acquired taste. It's something we've been brought up with and never questioned - ice is nice.
Or is it? Personally, I prefer a "cool" or even tepid glass of water to the brain freeze variety.
In the East, practitioners of Ayurvedic Medicine recommend drinking fluids "between" meals rather than while eating, as water dilutes the chemicals and enzymes that our bodies produce to break down and digest food.
But some foods come naturally packed with water ... how do you take the water out of watermelon? Whole fruits and vegetables - part of a well-balanced diet - all have significant water content ... and what about soups?
My rule of thumb is if the food is dry - such as trail mix, crackers, crusty breads - sipping a beverage while eating may be the only way to get it down! As water does cleanse and refresh the palate, it may also be the best way to enjoy the flavor of one's meal. And as for "cold" water - cold "anything" dulls the taste buds, so hold the ice!
You would think that in a hot climate such as India, iced drinks would be favored, but it's a fact that on average, people in hot climates prefer to chill out with a hot drink like tea ... and not necessarily along with a main course.
Of course there are always exceptions, just as I, a Westerner in a temperate climate, shy clear of icy beverages - unless it is a super cold brew on a hot summer's eve when I'm not watching my waistline.
If you are on a campaign to "gain" weight, it would be best to avoid cold drinks while eating, as the body burns extra calories to warm up the cold fluids. On the other hand, some say that a cold drink during mealtime slows down the absorption of fat in foods thus keeping them from being digested properly, increasing the chances of obesity.
It does sound like a bad idea to gulp ice water between bites of greasy fries and cheeseburger - but would a health-conscious individual be eating greasy foods in the first place? Well, maybe, if that's all that's on the available menu. But I'd take mine with hot tea please.
Again, in Western culture, it is customary to down one's "Happy Meal" with freezing cold soft drinks. Water would be a far saner choice, and if you MUST, save that brain-freeze sensation for AFTER the fatty feast.
Dieters beware - it is a fact that "cold" slows down the metabolism, while "hot" speeds it up. Slimmer people are known to have faster metabolisms, so reach for that hot beverage!
It is common sense however that drinking water of any temperature while eating DOES fill you up faster, leading to fewer calories consumed throughout the day. Since water does take up stomach space, if you are aiming to pack in the maximum amount of nutrition from any meal you may wish to hold off on extra fluids till after mealtime.
You should always drink when you feel thirsty though, whether at meals or not. Dehydration impairs digestion as well as being a life-threatening condition. If you feel thirsty at all, listen to your body. You may even have been dehydrated before experiencing the sensation of thirst. Don't wait. Water at any temperature is the most thirst-quenching drink around, so don't hesitate! Drink up!