There is a lot to be happy about during the festival season. Navaratri, Diwali, Christmas.. the list goes on. However, many of us fall way off our weight management goals during the festival season. Parties, sweets, and delicacies galore eat into our resolve, and before we know it, we have put on several extra kilos. Here are some easy tips gained from my experience as a consultant nutritionist, to help you manage your weight during Diwali and the festive season. Read on and let me know what worked for you.
- Start your exercise schedule well ahead
The planning and shopping for Diwali typically begins several weeks ahead. So too, plan your exercise schedule ahead. Add on to your existing routine at least 10 days before the festival. Add an extra 15 minutes of brisk walking daily or 4 extra sets of Surya Namaskar, if your choice of exercise is yoga. Even 10 minute sessions of deep breathing helps improve metabolism (read fat burning). If you have not yet begun any form of regular exercise, then it is vital to begin now. Just beginning with 30 minutes moderate walk daily will help to prevent extra weight gain from the rich food and sweets during the festive season.
- Choose your meals wisely
Follow what I call the ‘24-hour check’. In a span of 24 hours, make sure you eat only one festive/heavy/party meal. If your lunch is a heavy one, have a light breakfast such as a fruit smoothie preceding that heavy lunch and follow up with a light dinner such as soup or fresh salad. But make sure to have a small protein snack just before setting out for your party meal, so that you do not overindulge out of hunger. So too, if your dinner has been heavy, precede it with a light salad lunch and a fruit rich breakfast the next day.
- Plan your Diwali party menu
Be kind to yourself and to your guests by planning the party menu at your home wisely. Plan for one low fat/millet based/low sugar menu item in each course of the menu. Include cut vegetables (crudités) with a hung curd dip as part of starters, some millet based patties such as this one by Nandita. Dress your table with colourful salads such as these. Add grilled vegetables on skewers or fruit skewers to liven up the party table colourfully without much effort or wasteful calories. Even desserts can include some smart options such as this fruit terrine.
- Choose your party snacks smartly
While at a party, it may become tough to eat wisely. Pick a small plate to begin with. Keep an eagle eye on the portions you load on your plate. Do NOT go for second helpings. While selecting from the buffet table, choose baked over deep fried snacks, vinaigrette or lemon based dressings over mayonnaise for salads, milk based sweets over deep fried sugar drenched sweets, tea cakes over cream-topped pastries. Mentally divide your plate into 5 parts. Fill 1 part with a carbohydrate such as roti/rice/pilaf/ pasta, 2 parts with protein such as tofu/paneer/fish/lean meat, and 3 parts with vegetables such as stir fried vegetables/salad. This will ensure you are eating sensibly even at a party.
- Tank up on healthy fluids
Keep sipping water throughout the day. Other hydrating fluids include unsweetened fruit juices, lemon tea, green tea without added sweetener, dilute buttermilk. Aim for 4 glasses more than your usual fluid intake during the festive season. This will ensure that kidneys are not overloaded, yet, keep hunger pangs and binge-eating at bay. Good hydration also helps to eliminate toxins, aids digestion, keeps energy levels high at the festive times when you need it the most. Needless to say, drink alcohol (if you must) in moderation. No letting go of limits on this one. Dilute your drinks with plenty of unsweetened fruit juices, or water, and pace your drinks sensibly.
- Form a support group
Diwali is a great time for social bonding. Use your friendships to help each other. Form a support group of like-minded friends who commit to exercising and eating sensibly during the festive season. Agree on a 4-5 point goal, and update the others at the end of the day. Motivate each other to not give up and keep at your goals together. It will be great fun and inspiring at the same time.
Lastly, festivities are not just about food or no-holds barred behaviours. Enjoy the colours, the sounds, soak in the ambience, the fun. Relax, let go of your tensions and come out of the Diwali week, lighter in both body and spirit!
Happy Diwali to all my readers. May there be light, love, peace and happiness in all your homes and lives.