Even a pandemic can’t really dampen our festive mood, though we are stuck at home. Let’s stay strong and healthy while indulging, writes nutritionist Manisha Mehta
The new normal calls for new ways of celebrating, where staying healthy is the new cool. Festive season without sweets and delicacies is an incomplete affair, but often healthy eating goes for a toss when you are in a celebratory mood. But not this year!
This year as we gear up for the festivities let’s focus on boosting immunity and maintaining it. Festive foods are a great way to bring in some cheer in times of stress. However, rich traditional food and high-calorie mithais can cause chaos in your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Hence let’s not compromise on health, especially to prevent any kind of adverse condition.
Healthy alternatives –
Let’s bake/roast instead of frying – Puris, gujias, chaklis etc are deep fried irresistible snacks loaded with calories. What you can do is instead of deep frying, bake them, swap the puris with some methi parathas, ajwin parathas or tandoori rotis. The benefits of being a conscious eater and replacing fried food with roasted/baked food is not only tasty but also good for digestion. To this add some healthy tandoori foods such as baby corn, red and yellow bell peppers, baked broccoli, grilled mushrooms and the like, since these are fat-free and taste good.
Replace refined sugar with sugar substitutes – Sweets are fun, with all the sugar rush and happy cheers. But sugar in any form in large quantities is generally not healthy but no festival is complete without a sweet dish. What you can do is opt for artificial sweeteners, natural forms of sugar – jaggery, dates, figs, instead of refined. This way you can enjoy a sweet dish without feeling guilty.
Reserve your favourites for cheat day – If you have a sweet tooth and cannot resist your cravings, save it for your cheat day. Perhaps on the main day of the festival, you can allow yourself to indulge in one sweet dish. Be mindful and relish the sweet instead of stuffing yourself. When you enjoy your food slowly you won’t feel the need to have more. Also, instead of sweets like gulab jamun and rasgullas, opt for fruit salad or shrikhand using low-fat milk.
Gut-friendly drinks instead of drinking calories – Say no to soft drinks and instead have flavour-packed jal-jeera, buttermilk, lemon water, refreshing coconut water, tangy kokum sharbat or some flavoured milk that you enjoy. When it comes to alcohol take it easy as getting carried away can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Hence, stick to drinks that will keep your digestion in check throughout.
Drink plenty of water – Sip water frequently throughout the day. It will keep you hydrated and will also satiate the false hunger for snacks and sweets. Frequently drinking water will help you flush out toxins and keep your sugar levels in check. So keep a bottle of water handy at all times.
Do not skip your meals – No matter what happens, make sure you eat on time and never skip a meal. And if you happen to miss a meal make sure that rest of your meals are on track. Festivities sometime leads to over-indulgence that can send your healthy eating habits for a toss. Hence, plan your meals ahead. Eating your meals on time is much healthier and well-balanced instead of overeating or skipping your meal. So be mindful.
Portion control is the key – Refrain from over-indulging in everything at one sitting. Instead, break it down to small portions so that you can eat throughout the day. The idea here is to be mindful about your food intake. You can have smaller portion of healthy snacking such as a fruit, roasted fox nuts, or a handful of unsalted roasted dry fruits, a sweet dish made with low-fat milk. This way you will satiate you urge and not over-indulge.
Exercise for 15-30 minutes every day –With all the excitement and cheer don’t forget to work out.Regular exercising will kick your body metabolism into high gear, helping you burn calories faster and keep your immunity strong. It will also help you portion control and keep your mood uplifted.
Get enough sleep – Sleep is essential if you want to enjoy the festivities to the fullest. When you are well rested you can function well and stay strong. Even though you are home this festive season, make sure you get plenty of sleep. It plays a big role in boosting your immune system.