Wellness tips for a guilt-free Diwali

With Diwali round the corner, joy, celebrations, sweets, and delicacies are certainly in the air. A common advice heard in every home would be, ‘watch yourself, don’t indulge, or you’ll put on those extra kilos’, you may mess up your blood sugar or cholesterol, and of course suffer loads of guilt as an aftermath of hearty treats.

Stop worrying right there folks, know the facts of your body and mind functioning and enjoy the festive season, having your favourite food without guilt or compromising fitness and health.

Moderation is the key, they say, and then you can eat whatever you want. But the vital question is how can be strike that moderation? Well, there are certain techniques that research shows may regulate our hunger and thirst drives, balance our hormones and metabolism to reduce portion size and cravings.

Exercise and particularly breathing exercises, are an all time winner for body-mind regulation, hormonal balance and reducing inflammation. Secondly muscle stimulation or strengthening exercises can increase the metabolism, exert insulin -like effect, and reduce triglycerides. Therefore, enjoy your favourite sweets in moderation by allowing exercise to regulate your body functions.

Include 30 mins of a variety of breathing rhythms, everyday during the festive season and continuing thereafter is not a bad idea. Moreover, include 30 mins of major muscle strengthening exercises, including abs, alternating upper and lower body at least 5 times a week. Simple band exercises done at home work very well, as of course there is little time to go all the way to fancy gyms. Furthermore, all exercise regimes may be accumulated throughout the day, and need not be done at a stretch.

Another strategy to beat over-indulgence is by cognitive restructuring. Bring the psyche of the human mind into your awareness. The moment the mind experiences a thought of deprivation, it instantly comes up with a thought of reward. So if you stare in the face of temptation and deprive, sooner or later, the mind will reward itself for that behaviour and you will find yourself insidiously taking in more calories another day. Over caution just adds on to the stress, disturbing hormones, and triggering stressful eating and cravings. So intuitive eating, research says, is a handy way to ensure fitness and health.

Another strategy is to bring into awareness the fact that it is not the food, but the ‘feeling good’ sensation that is more the cause of over-indulgence. For example, if a counter stimulus is given, say, I tell you that I’ve just deposited 50lac pounds in your bank account, this stimulus may overpower the sensation of pleasure caused by the food, and you may jump up, leaving the piece of your favourite cake unfinished. This simple awareness intuitively reduces dependency on food, triggers off least reinforcement, allowing the body-mind to self-regulate toward more rational outcomes.

Enjoy the festive season with your favourite foods, balancing body functions with exercise and cognitive awareness, rather than forcing will power and deprivation or being stressfully watchful and over-cautious.

Dr. Shveta Sanghani,
Director, Wellness and Homeostasis
Life-style Medicine consultant

Dr. Shveta Sanghani is the Founder of Wellness and Homeostasis, a Community & Corporate Health and Research Centre. She has executed personal and corporate lifestyle medicine interventions for management of chronic diseases, weight loss and stress reduction. She has training in sports nutrition and exercise science.

Image: Thinkstockphotos

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