To eat or not to eat: healthy festive indulgences

The pandemic sure consumed better parts of the year but it certainly hasn’t taken away our festive spirit. As we enter the first few weeks of October, the air is abuzz with the hope of grand festivities just around the corner. At the heart of these festivities is what brings most of us together – food. Playing a significant role in celebrating traditions and culture as a family, food is a catalyst for good times. From sweet treats to savoury delicacies, nothing beats a holiday feast. However, while these special occasions maybe your onetime annual pass for a little indulgence, it shouldn’t take away all the efforts you’ve made throughout the year to eat well. 

While we anticipate with bated breath the arrival of our favourite festivals, let’s be mindful of the many ways we can participate in the celebrations while also paying attention to our health. 

Here are a few simple tips: 

1. Do not skip meals. It’s a common observation of skipping a meal after you’ve over-indulged in the previous one. This will lead to overeating the next day. Rather keep the next meal low in carbohydrates and high in fibre and protein.

 2. Snack on fruits. A regular eating schedule might get disrupted during festivals and so whenever one finds time in between, fresh fruits should always be the choice! 

3. Choose unsalted nuts and dry fruits over salted ones. If it’s for gifting or your consumption during festivals, be cautious to avoid sodium loaded flavoured nuts.

 4. Avoiding unnecessary tea/coffee/drinks. If you are full or not up for it, just say no to that sugary, empty-calorie drink!

 5. Start and end your day with warm water and a teaspoon of fibre-rich seeds such as flaxseeds or chia seeds.

 6. Follow the one plate rule. Fill your plate once with what you wish to eat and avoid second helping in your plate. This ensures portion control. 

7. Find time to exercise. Walk while you talk, stand more, sit less and be physically active. 

Swap those unhealthy food preparations with some healthy alternatives: 

  •  Instead of frying, bake or steam 
  •  Instead of sugar, add jaggery 
  • Instead of roasting in fat, try dry roasting 
  •  Replace refined flour for whole wheat flour 
  •  Add natural sweeteners like dates, raisins and cashews 

Replace market bought food with homemade food For the sweet-tooth fix opt for healthier options:

  •   Kheer instead of mawa barfi 
  •  Rawa and ghee based mithai instead of ones made with all-purpose flour (maida)
  •   A filling of dates and raisins instead of sugar 
  •  Natural food colours instead of artificial colours For those looking forward to savoury feasts:   Always serve fresh salad in meals 
  •  Keep the menu small to avoid excess calorie consumption
  •   Have chhole, chana masala, rajma, lentils to ensure protein in meals
  •   Cook vegetables in the least amount of fat – one teaspoon per dish should be a rule of thumb
  •   Choose chapatis over puris or bhature

  Choose steamed rice over fried rice l Choose fresh mint coriander chutney over readymade pickles Remember you are what you eat, so a little mindfulness goes a long way. A simple rule to remember while choosing food: ‘Each morsel should be nourishing to the soul and mind’. 

The writer is a clinical nutritionist, dietitian, lifestyle therapist, columnist, health speaker and founder of NutriAl Diet Clinic

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