The other side of Indian festivals

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For the last month, we all have been enjoying the Indian festival season with Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Bhai Duj and Annakut. Though we can say that Indians celebrate festivals throughout the year, this month is the most important one for festivals. And no celebration is complete without the traditional sweets, mithais, parties and family outings. Naturally, the traditional Indian hospitality encompassed in three famous words, Atithi Devo Bhavo or ‘The guest is truly your God’, is quite appropriate, as you are piled with sweets and drinks wherever you go.

Though festivals are loaded with fun and enjoyment, they do sway many people away from regular diet schedules. During festivals, we mentally switch off our calorie counter and enjoy the goodies and traditional sweets, as some of these are available only during this season. However, most of these foods have shockingly high levels of fat and sugar, and thus calories. This is also the time when even the most disciplined diet-followers let down their guard and get into the festival spirit. Even talking about dieting around Diwali makes people annoyed at you.

It has been seen over the years that after the festival season, the rate of obesity goes up, sugar control of diabetics goes down and those who are predisposed to develop diabetes, start to show diabetes. Therefore, experts warn that this festival fun – and not least, the culture of sweet-eating that peaks during this time – can help trigger long-term health problems, with diabetes only the beginning.

In fact, India is the diabetes capital of the world as it hosts the most diabetics among all nations. But with festivities all around it is very difficult to stay focused and adhere to a strict diet schedule. It might start with a bite here and a bite there and before we know it, we have eaten a plate-full of extra calories by the end of the day.

READ ALSO: Healthy Diwali recipes: Guilt-free eats to try out

But now, after all the bingeing and enjoyment the festival season finally ends, and it is time to get back to shape and health. Here are a few tips:

Give away the extras goodies

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Do not eat the sweets and mithai you collect during Indian festivals just because they are about to go bad. It is better to throw away a few pieces of mithai rather than put yourself at risk. Take these extra sweets to your workplace! Your multicultural colleagues would definitely love your Indian sweets and would not mind trying them.

Plan your meals

Try sticking to a strict and healthy diet regime for the next few weeks or months, without any concessions or cheat days. Start maintaining a food diary for the next few days or weeks to take stock of what you are eating, and also to keep you more focused and therefore plan your meals accordingly. Avoid having very high-calorie foods and meals and add more whole grains to your meals, rather than white foods.

Include veggies and fruit

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With the mercury rising and the summer season here, an added benefit for people living in Australia, try and include more salads, fresh veggies and fruits in your diet.

Avoid skipping meals

The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when losing weight is to skip a meal here and there to cut down on extra calories. Avoid skipping meals to get back to your normal weight, or to maintain better blood sugar values because it slows down metabolism and you might end up putting on even more weight. Instead, have small and frequent meals.

Watch out for portion sizes

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Try to have smaller portions at regular intervals rather than heaping up your plate with food at mealtimes. Try to include small snacks in between meals to reduce the portion size of the meals. Sometimes large portion sizes of even healthy foods can cause problems, therefore keep a close check on the portions.

Snack wisely

Packed Diwali gift hampers look very attractive and tasty, but try to choose your snacks wisely. Instead of snacking on fried foods or sweets, try to have fruit, fat reduced yoghurt, air-popped popcorns, corn cobs, sprouts and nuts as snacks. Remember, a snack is not a meal; therefore, do not have burgers and pies as snacks.

Healthy cooking

Switch to healthier cooking options such as steaming, baking or grilling rather than frying or cooking in a large amount of fat and ghee. Invest in a non-stick pan and use an oil spray instead of pouring oil.

Increase physical activity

Have a regular exercise routine and try to be active. Do any kind of exercise you are comfortable with such as walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, or Pilates.

Let’s get over the guilt of overindulging during Indian festivals and get back to being fit and smart for the upcoming summer!

READ ALSO: Waste not, want not

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