As we gear up for a string of festivities, sweet offerings are always on the table. But can you enjoy and also stay healthy? Deepa Desa finds out
The look and smell of all things festive brightens up September’s air. We look forward to the string of festivals that follow Ganesh Chaturthi (Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas and finally the New Year). The last three months of the year are sprinkled with weddings, anniversaries, engagements, events, birthdays; all things that call for being celebrated.
We all owe it to ourselves to live it up a bit. Celebration is by definition – the act or occasion of doing something enjoyable because something good has happened or because it is a special day.
Celebrating is feasting. Making merry. But then, our incessant mind chatter or our blood report intervenes to spoil our party. And we decide to do one out of two things –to just party on without giving a damn or to completely cut back and feel despondent.
Though there is no one formula for enjoying festivities without guilt, there are ways you can plan the next three months ahead so that you’re on top of your celebrations and health report as well:
Make a clear and doable plan and stick to it
Make sure your plan includes some indulgences (else you may fall prey to bingeing due to severe abstinence)
Kick-start your exercise routine in full swing and add some variations (like swimming or cycling with a walk) for that boost up in your metabolism
Balance days of indulgences with days of detoxifying and light eating
Aim for etching memories of fun over food
When eating at home, you can control and have full knowledge of the ingredients that go into all the dishes, but when ordering in or eating out, the key is to be mindful.
In fact mindful eating, (which is giving your full attention to the present moment; of eating to savour your food), will automatically translate into balanced eating and you will discover that this is the key formula which leads you happily through celebrations.
A few instances of mindful eating:
Be sure to totally enjoy that gulab jamun, but stop at one or two.
Chew your food a few more times before you swallow.
Put your utensils down in between a few bites.
Savour your food: Pay attention to the different textures and flavours.
Choose options like naturally sweetened desserts (those sweetened with dates, figs, jaggery etc); try low fat milk options to cut out on saturated fat but make sure you include good old desi ghee. This will balance the extra saturated fats (they are a no-no for cholesterol and lead to or exacerbate heart related conditions).
Make your own carrot halwa, ragi, suji and dudhi halwa, kheer, modaks, puran polis, laddos, badam and mysore pak. Or order them from a vendor who you have vetted out, in terms of ingredients used.
The Healthy Sweet Trailblazers
If you are not part of the elite sweet eaters that turn their nose up at the mention of healthier versions then you will be pleased to try out what’s on offer; whether at a well-stocked super market or hand-made by professional sweet chefs. Today you get a plethora of healthier options in sweets so give them a try. There are also sweet makers who don’t use any refined sugar at all. I’m sure you are aware that though we gush over jaggery as a sugar substitute, it has the same caloric value as sugar, read: high GI. However it has nutrients that sugar is devoid of.
Some of the popular treats, sweetened with stevia or jaggery or date syrup, that are trending this festive season include:
How can you balance feasting and healthy eating?
Chalk out some days of the month where you do not have festive events and make these your “special days”. In your mind see these days as days of rest and detox.
Drink detoxifying drinks, consume a larger portion of fruit, in fact replace a meal with a plate of fruit and drink up the buttermilk and green veggie juice on the side.
Make sure your diet is rich in fibrous foods like fresh fruits (especially apples, watermelons and papayas that have high water content), leafy vegetables, raw nuts like walnuts and almonds, fruits and vegetables, legumes like rajma, chana, moong and various beans are high in fibre and rejuvenate the system by releasing anti-oxidants that help cells regenerate.
That said, I hope you feel better about the approaching festive season. Go online and check out the various options that serve up gluten-free, vegan, ketogenic, diabetic, low-fat and any specific dietary concern you may have. You’ll find your needs sorted out.
Did you ever imagine we would be able to buy rasgullas like these? As the demand increases, the market will respond with more creative, healthy festive sweets.
Let’s go back to the basics – of mindfulness and balance. Approach your festivities with this mind set and you won’t go wrong.
Life is meant to be celebrated with the people you love most.
And the universal truth for cultures all over the world is this: We all celebrate with food. A happy balanced life where you enjoy celebrations with loved ones, tops the list of things to do in life – so don’t worry too much, just make sure you balance your indulgences by burning up the extra calories consumed, and have fun this festive season.