Article By: Dr Rashi Chahl, Chief dietician, Rosewalk healthcare, New Delhi
Festive season fills us with joy and excitement! We all look forward to socialising with friends and family over meals. Food bonds people together irrespective of age and gender. Indian festivities are never complete without yummy treats. Taking pleasure in traditional delicacies and desserts with family and friends makes the occasion so special.
Eating together has plenty of benefits. The chief benefit is that you share your calories and are still satiated. It also helps improve one’s mental health over social interaction. It also allows one to try multiple dishes in smaller portions without feeling guilty as long as it is done mindfully.
During feasts there is always a huge spread of delicacies that are not only tempting but also pushes a thought in our mind of how much is enough, or how much do I need to exercise next day to burn all the extra calories. Some of us out of fear completely avoid eating any of the delicacies or desserts, fearing weight gain.
How to eat guilt free??
Festival season is all about embracing the happy vibe of the season and enjoying your favourite foods and not to fear them. Food is a healer and can also lighten up one’s mood. You need to make conscious choices so this way you still can enjoy and maintain your weight rather than over indulging and running in a guilt trip thereafter.
Staying healthy is a choice that calls for a lifestyle change. If you eat right and exercise throughout the year regularly, spoiling your routine for 4-5 days during festivities won’t have much of an impact on your weight.
Tips to keep you in check:
● Fasting or skipping a meal is a common resort for most of us to ensure we can indulge in a cheat meal thereafter. Well this is not a healthy practice as it slows your metabolism down. It can make one feel more bloated or nauseous. Fasting can also lead to acid reflux which can slow down your digestion and also end up making one feel uncomfortable. Instead keep up with your regular meals of the day. Start your day with a healthy and wholesome breakfast that includes whole grains, low fat proteins and fruit. Include mixed seeds in between meals for the extra pump of proteins and micronutrients.
● Eat until you are satiated and not until you are full, this way you will not overeat. Try and relish the flavours of different foods that you choose to indulge in to just make you feel comfortable and not until you feel short of breath or your tummy pops.
● During the feast try and have a portion of seasonal foods and desserts rather than having regular foods that are available throughout the year. Example brownies etc. Also choose foods that are high in fibre which will keep you full for longer and have more nutritious value to offer other than just calories. So start your cheat meal with soups or salads rather than just juices or sugary drinks.
● Choosing sweets – we all fear sugar knowing how much longer it will stay on your waist. It is best to consume traditional or home made sweets over packaged or processed ones. Try and include a portion of your dessert in your main plate so that it helps you to eat as much as required and not over indulge.
● Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are unable to say “no” to the hospitality of the host who ladles food onto our plate one after the other. In this situation always keep some food on your plate so this will allow you to buy time in the evening, and also instead of saying no try saying later. This way you wont be impolite or hurt your hosts sentiments yet you will delay food ladling on your plate.
● Eat slowly! Chew your food properly. Focus more on socialising rather than eating. Give your body time to register and let you know that it has had enough.
● Drink more water than normal- as this will not only help keep your body hydrated but also flush toxins. Add a slice of sweet lime or mint leaves to give flavour to the water. Try and drink more water between breaks during feasts if you are having a long night. Drinking water can also help you ditch extra calories during festivities as 1 glass of water will fill you as much as 1 glass of juice would.
● Choice of beverage- for someone who enjoys alcoholic beverages its best to not consume on an empty stomach. Top up your day with good b-vitamin sources in diet like curd, nuts and seeds. Try mixing your alcohol with water or soda water with lemon or ginger juice instead of sugary based mixers. For someone who enjoys non-alcoholic drinks – coconut water, lemon soda or kokum juice (savoury) makes an excellent choice.
● If you are hosting dinner for your friends, try and include foods that are healthier. Some of your favourite dishes can be prepared the same way by just changing the style of cooking. Eg. – Roasting of nuts can be done to make them as crispy as you would get by frying. Few tweeks in your menu and recipes will make it easier and more joyous for you and your guests.
● Most importantly – Monitor Your Health! If you are taking medication for any lifestyle disorder such as diabetes or blood pressure, ensure you don’t forget or skip your medication. It is important to take care of yourself.
● Avoid eating very late in the night. If you tend to eat past your bedtime, it can affect your digestion and can also make you feel sluggish the next day. Eating late and waking up early and having another meal can add more calories to one’s days intake – which can lead to weight gain.
So this festive season enjoy your favourite foods yet stay healthy and fit!