With Dassehra and Diwali around the corner, it is difficult to resist the temptation to gorge on sweets and other fat-laden seasonal delicacies - bad news for anyone who is trying to watch their weight and health in general. Yet, you can't possibly nibble on salads all day can you? After all Diwali comes only once a year. So is there a way to have all the yummy stuff and get away with it?
Turns out there is.
1. Eat what you like, just less of it
It is not so much about what you eat but rather about how much of it you consume. Traditional Diwali dishes like mathri (240 calories for 4), tikkis (350 calories for 2), jalebis and gulab jamuns (140 calories each) and a serving of barfi (250 calories) are loaded with calories. Diet is always about moderation and being able to make correct food choices. You could definitely indulge in sweets and fried foods, but limit the portions to one single piece or one small bowl once a day. If you are offered sweets just take a small bite. Follow your regular meal timings, preferably eating every two hours. Since you'll probably be partaking of dried fruits and sweets throughout the day during visits to friends and families, try to compensate by keeping dinner light, sticking to soups and salads for this meal and giving carbs a miss.
"It is not so much about what you eat but rather about how much of it you consume."
2. Modify deep-fried snacks
Calories consumed through fried food are called empty calories because they have no benefits. Eat them often enough and they'll make you gain weight at a rapid rate. And while it's best to avoid fried foods altogether, you will do less damage if you try roasted or shallow-fried snacks instead. Make salted munchies such as mathris, namak para, chaklis, kachoris, etc, using high-fibre flour using finger millet or bajra, ragi or soya along with wheat flour. Add green leafy vegetables such as methi (fenugreek), spinach, coriander or mint to salted snacks.
3. Make sweets at home
By making your own sweets at home, you can control the amount of sugar or even use healthier sugar substitutes like honey and maple syrup. Likewise, replacing whole milk with 1% milk will cut the calories from fat by more than half. You can also minimise the ghee in the recipe and use aromatic flavour enhancers like saffron, cardamom, rose water etc to refine the taste. Avoid the really rich milk-based sweets; opt for cashew or almond barfi instead. These recipes call for very little added fat and are very good sources of healthy fats.
4. Water to the rescue
Make sure you're drinking enough water during the day as it helps to alleviate false hunger. Water is a miracle weight loss drink. All the extra oil you eat is worked up if you drink 10-15 glasses of water every day. It also keeps you hydrated and looking good.
5. Eat a hearty breakfast
Eat a healthy, high protein/fibre breakfast. Include plenty of vegetables. Fibre is especially helpful as it helps you feel full and will help you control portions. If one meal is heavy, compensate in the next meal by having only clear soups and salads or fruit and skimmed milk/yogurt. Have a handful of nuts before a get-together. This will fill you up and avoid any unnecessary bingeing.
6. Don't skip your exercise routine
Be active and do not skip your exercise regime. If you have company, try walking after meals or snacks with the whole family. If you are tempted to shop till you drop for the festival season leave your car behind and walk to a nearby mall. Look for ways to keep yourself active throughout the day. Being consistent with exercise will certainly keep your waistline in control.
Staying healthy during festivals is doable. Just be on your guard and eat sensibly. Have a happy and healthy Diwali!