How to Eat Wisely This Diwali

Diwali Delights - Seniors Today
With festival Goodies Tempting you at every step, some tips on enjoying them with care from dietitian Indrayani Pawar

Diwali is just a couple of days away. The countdown has begun, and we cannot contain our excitement. While we are all loving the festive vibe and the feasting that is to follow in these couple of days, one cannot also deny the impact that it can have on our health soon after. Wise choices, portion control and moderation can help ensure that you eat healthy this festive season.

Here is some yummy advice that will make your life a little bit easier if you’re on a diet, without making you miss out on any festivities.

The basics of geriatric nutrition need to be followed, as with age one’s digestive system slows down, lifestyle becomes sedentary, and there are also issues with regards to chewing. So basically a lot of physiologic and psychological parameters influences the diet in seniors. The basic geriatric diet (unless there is no underlying comorbidity), should be a well-balanced diet. It should be well-balanced with the inclusion of complex carbohydrates, proteins, essential fats and good amount of fiber.

In India, seniors tend to abide strictly by their religious beliefs, and this is also an important aspect which influences their dietary habits and health. For example, during festive seasons, they fast or stick to only certain groups of foods. This could make them deficient in certain nutrients and also certain vitamins and minerals, which has an adverse effect on health. For instance, during fasting, they include a lot of “fasting snacks” made with sabudana, potatoes, peanuts, etc. which could affect their blood sugar levels in a wrong manner, or sometimes they stick to having only one meal, which could lead to further weakness.

Useful hints

During festive seasons, the following are some general tips that seniors need to follow to avoid any health issues:

  • Maintain meal timings.
  • Include whole fruits (thin slice or grated if chewing is an issue)
  • Limit the portion of mithai and sweets
  • See to it that water intake is enough, at least 8 to 10 glasses.
  • In case of fasting, include dishes made from grains like rajgira/kuttu and avoid fried dishes.
  • Opt for buttermilk/unsweetened lassi instead of sugary drinks or fruit juices.
  • Limit intake of fried and spicy foods.
  • The foods to avoid strictly: Unless and until there is any comorbidity disease condition like diabetes, renal disease or cardiac disorder, everything in moderation is ok. However, if one suffers from diabetes or cardiac issues, it’s better to avoid sweets and fried foods completely.

A simple change in the preparation of the recipes can help to keep up with any dietary restrictions, and also the mood of the elderly in the family. For example, traditional sweets like kheer etc can be made by adding a sweetener like stevia instead of sugar for elderly diabetics. And baked foods can be preferred instead of fried foods.

Foods to be strictly avoided:

Packaged foods, as they are high in preservatives, palm oil (which can have adverse effect on the lipid profile), simple sugars in the form of glucose syrup.

Bakery products which contain refined flour and hydrogenated vegetable oil (vanaspati)

Foods which claim to be “diet”, which are actually fried or contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

Fried foods or snacks can be consumed during the day. Late evening snacking should be avoided, as this can hamper digestion.

Kinds of snacks and sweets to avoid for some special health conditions:

Diabetic: Deep fried foods, mithai containing sugar, jaggery, honey, foods high in refined wheat flour (maida)

Hypertension: Packaged or preserved foods

Arthritis: Preserved foods

As it’s festive time, more than be too stressed with the ‘No’s in the diet, concentrate on more healthy things that one can eat. And be stress-free, that is the key to happiness!

About Indrayani Pawar

Indrayani Pawar is Chief Dietitian at Hinduja Hospital in Khar Mumbai.

View all posts by Indrayani Pawar

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