It's that time of the year again, when there's a party, wedding or festival every other week. Yet the celebrations have a flip side, as the high intake of rich food can take a toll on your health.
"While a normal individual requires 1,500-2,000 calories a day, during the festive season one meal itself can go as high as 2,000 calories," Dr Ritika Samaddar, regional head of the Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, said.
"It is important to keep a track of when you eat, what you eat and how much you eat, and know your temptations," Dr Ishi Khosla, founder, The Weight Monitor, explained.
We spoke to four nutritionists to share their tips on how eat mindfully and smartly so that you can have your fill without it affecting your food.
1. Rasgullas over gulab jamuns
Nutritionists say that as a rule, you should opt for chenna-based sweets like rasgullas and sandesh. Sewai, phirni and kheer are also several shades healthier than gulab jamuns, laddoos, jalebis and khoya barfis. In general, sweets made with dry fruits, dates and figs are healthier options as well. If possible, gift and consume dry fruits whenever possible. "Most importantly, khoya is mostly adulteratred during this period, with the milk and colours being very unhealthy," Dr Samaddar said.
Snacks such as dhokla, khandvi, bhelpuri, dry fruits, tandoori dishes like paneer tikka and meat-based proteins are better than puris, samosas or batter-fried food.
If you are preparing desserts at home, opt for healthy options like apple kheer, fruit cream, strawberries or nuts dipped in chocolate, dates filled with chocolate.
Similarly, snacks such as dhokla, khandvi, bhelpuri, dry fruits, and tandoori dishes like paneer tikka and meat-based proteins are better than a fried cereal or batter-fried food. Try to avoid chips and namkeen, which is often made with poor quality oil. Dr Shikha Sharma, founder, Dr Shikha's NutriHealth, says that it is better to opt for dry dishes rather than curries, which can be heavy.
2. Eat smaller portions and only what you love.
A clever way of reducing your intake is to focus on your favourite dishes. Dr Samaddar suggest that during parties, it is wise to take a round of all the food that is available and then pick up and eat only what you love the most, rather than over-eating and consuming the wrong food. "This way, you enjoy what you eat and limit the portion size." Samaddar said. So have a laddoo, but restrict yourself to one serving.
3. Don't skip meals.
It is common to skip a meal during the day to compensate for binging at a dinner party. However, this can leave you hungry and in turn, consume more food later at night. Instead opt for light healthy meals through the day.
"Take a round of all the food that is available and then pick up and eat only what you love the most, rather than over-eating and consuming the wrong food."
"If your peak hunger time is between 5 and 7, you should eat most of your food at that time," Dr Khosla said. She adds that people over the age of 35 should especially avoid eating late at night more than once a week as this can adversely affect digestion and quality of sleep.
4. Have a light snack before a dinner party to eat less.
This can keep your hunger pangs in check and prevent you from bingeing on unhealthy food at a party. Dr Khosla says that it is advisable to have salads, soups, and proteins such as fish and chicken so that you are partially full before a party, and can balance your indulgences.
5. Drink water, nimboo paani, coconut water
Ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day by consuming ample water, nimboo paani and coconut water. "It helps you detoxify and you also tend to eat less in the long run," Dr Samaddar said. Choose low-calorie beverages such as fresh lime soda and jaljeera over soft drinks which can add to your sugar intake, and ensure that you are hydrated after drinking alcohol.
6. A glass of soda after every two drinks
Dr Sharma says that heavy drinkers should have a glass of soda after every two drinks to slow down alcohol absorption. It is also important not to stay hungry, as this can lead you to drink more. "
You can also have light snack, such as a bowl of peanuts before drinking, because people tend to guzzle down more alcohol because they are hungry and low on sugar," she adds. Alternatively, having curd atleast half an hour before a party coats the intestine, and ensures that alcohol isn't absorbed very quickly and you can enjoy the drink.
7. Step up your exercise.
Since people tend to overindulge on food with a high salt, sugar and trans fat content, it is important to burn it off by exercising.
Having curd atleast half an hour before a party coats the intestine, and ensures that alcohol isn't absorbed very quickly and you can enjoy the drink.
Dr Lalitha Subramanyam, Chief Nutritionist at GrowFit, advises at least 30 minutes of exercise in the form of brisk walking, jogging, gardening, or a game of tennis or badminton to burn off the extra calories.
8. Take these superfoods to aid your digestion.
Certain superfoods can help speed up your metabolism. Dr Shikha Sharma says she takes 3 tablespoons of aloe vera juice every morning. "It coats the intestine and keeps the acidity away, even if I eat oily food."
To balance the increased intake of alcohol, Dr Sharma suggests taking milk thistle tablets, as well as vitamin C and B complex supplements for atleast a month, in order to protect, balance and clean the liver.
To balance intake of alcohol, Dr Sharma suggests taking milk thistle tablets, as well as vitamin C and B complex supplements for atleast a month, in order to protect, balance and clean the liver.
Excessive consumption of rich food can lead to outbreaks of acne and rashes, as well as bloating and water retention. Take a teaspoon of triphala with warm water at night to improve digestion and prevent bloating and water retention.
Her other recommendations include vegetable and dal soups laced with turmeric. Vegetable juices made with beetroot, bottle gourd, apple, tomato or ginger are also good for boosting metabolism.
9. Eat high calorie foods before 10 pm
Try to indulge in your cravings for high-calorie foods before 10 pm, when the basal metabolic rate is at its lowest. Dr Subramanyam of GrowFit says that metabolism is high in the morning and spikes after physical activity. It decreases over the day, and is at its lowest by the evening.
10. Detox with fruits and vegetables.
After a night of eating and drinking, it is advisable to go on a light diet of fruits and vegetables in different colours, with few or no grains.
The fibre in fruits and vegetables keeps your digestion working properly, especially when you are consuming high amounts of maida and fried foods. Moreover, fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidant phytochemicals, which help remove toxins from the system. You can consume them in the form of fruit chaat, smoothies, salads and juices.