Mindful eating during the festive season
India is a country with diverse cultures and cultural practices. We find an occasion to celebrate many things in our life and hence the large number of various festivals celebrated by us. For us festivals not only mean social gathering, festivities, music and fun but it also means good food, and in abundance. Each festival has its own specialty of unique items that are prepared.
Right now the festival season has taken over India in full swing. When we are happy we crave good and tasty food which in reality means calorie dense, rich foods. THis means that we tend to opt for fried and heavy foods and sweets full of ghee and sugar.
But, not all festivals bring feasting as a means of celebration. There are some which bring fasting as well like Ramazan, Paryushan and Navratras. But the end of all these fasting festivals are marked with feasting. So either it’s present or absent, but food is always the focus.
It is therefore very important that our festivals do not become “Fat Festivals”.
Research suggests that meaningful fasts are beneficial to our body and can prevent and reduce the chances of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol, neurological problems and several other ailments. Most importantly what happens after the fast is more important. The tendency of the body to hoard fat after fasting becomes high. Body tends to lose weight during the fast, but once normal eating starts it gains weight quicker than before.
It is very important that the right kinds of food and the right quantity is selected to avoid the unwanted weight gain. Now let’s move on to how to deal with festivals that involve unlimited food as a way of celebration.
Here are a few tips that should help you to make mindful eating choices:
- It is very important to keep yourself well hydrated. Thirst is very commonly mistaken for hunger and we end up eating more than is required.
- Never go anywhere on a hungry stomach. A full stomach helps in keeping the unwanted calories at bay.
- Keep your portion sizes small. Cut your piece of mithai to several pieces before you eat. This will help create a sense of eating a larger portion even though in actuality it would be just that one whole piece.
- During the festivals it’s very difficult to be on track with your exercise regime but even during this time it’s possible to edge in some physical activity. Take the stairs whenever possible and skip the elevator, do a few squats, lunges and wall push-ups to work your major muscles in the body.
- Walk while you talk. Whenever speaking on the phone, move. And add those few minutes of workout.
- Make light soups and salads part of your meals whenever possible to balance out the rich food.
- Keep sipping green tea or warm water wherever possible to help curb your cravings and to boost your metabolism.
No matter how much one tries to be calorie conscious, you are bound to give in one time or the other. So prepare your body for the indulgences that are bound to come later during the festivals. Try and stick to your exercise and diet routine as much as possible. It is very important that you do not deny yourself the foods that you want to eat. Denying yourself can lead to completely giving up on your healthy eating routine and binge. As a result you end up doing more harm than good to your body.
Festivities unknowingly bring with them a lot of stress as well. The stress to meet with expectations from family members, cleaning homes and even social gatherings can turn you into an emotional eater. Avoid this trap and I wish you a happy, healthy and harmonious holidays!!
Ms. Nisha Singh
Nutritionist Nisha Singh is a gold medalist with over 10 years of independent experience of managing various ailments through lifestyle and dietary modifications, counselling of patients, diet and meal planning. She specializes in weight loss diets, pregnancy and post pregnancy diet plans, cardiac and lipid management, dealing with everyday diseases through dietary modification and health management of the athletes.
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