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Let festivals add spice to your life

Friday, 23 October 2020 | Team Viva

Nutrition expert Kavita Devgan shares some easy tips and tricks which will help you avoid weight gain while you enjoy those calorie-rich feasts

Food has always been an integral part of each and every celebration in India. And as the festive season kicks off, one problem that concerns people is the added pounds or unwanted weight gain during this time. The festive delicacies, especially sweets, are so tempting that resisting these ‘once-a-year desserts’ seem being unfaithful with our traditions. And that might be the mere reason why most of us tend to put on extra a few kilos between Dusshera and New Year every year. However, don’t let this guilt spoil the festival for you. Instead, strive to find the right balance, where you manage to enjoy while keeping the guilt minimal. Here are some basic tips and tricks for taming the festive food devils.

Eat smart

Sweets are the most difficult to resist. After all, it’s easy to pop a few in the mouth every time you see the mithai ka dabba. The idea should be to eat the meetha, not gorge. Eat mindfully, not mindlessly. Portion control is the only key as saying no doesn’t work. It’s a good idea to make your own mithai at home such as besan ladoos. This age old sweet holds multiple health benefits as it is high in folic acid, which is essential for iron production and rapid growth of red and white blood cells in our body. It is a good-old desi sweet that one can keep handy to satiate the cravings in a healthy way. Just source good quality packaged besan made from 100 per cent pure chana dal and you are good to go. Another smart idea is to make jaggery-haldi-ghee-flaxseeds balls and pop one whenever you are craving for something sweet.

Experiment a little

Festive season is a great time to explore a bit by trying some interesting delicacies from regions other than those in which we live or are native. Indian local ingredients best suit and nourish our bodies. This somehow goes with the spirit and it also brings variety to the regular fare that you get sick of consuming. Instead of eating the regular food why not try Pongal from Tamil Nadu. This rice and moong dal delivers a balanced mix of carbohydrates and proteins and the good fat in cashews, adds satiety and crunch. Try it, it’s easy to make: Dry roast 50 gm of rice and 30 gm of moong dal (green gram). Add 400 ml of water, cover and cook until done. In the meantime, make a tadka (tempering) of cumin seeds, black peppercorns, curry leaves, ginger and garlic, with a few cashew nuts in a teaspoon of ghee. Pour over the rice and dal. Season to taste and stir in fresh curry leaves. Enjoy this quintessential Indian dish that is sampann in all (health, taste, convenience) ways.

Also, if you have a heavy dinner planned, then try eating something that is light on the stomach for lunch (or vice versa), like red rice poha. While people often reach out to white poha, many don’t know that there is red poha too that exists. This is widely consumed in South India. This is an acquired taste but once you get used to it, you will appreciate its goodness and gain from it. Make sure to opt for packaged poha over loose from a trusted source as it assures 100 per cent quality. It has no residual powder at the bottom of the pack. It is also high on dietary fibre. Experiment your red rice poha in pilaf-style with raisins, nuts, black pepper, salt, green chillies and sugar to taste. Or, give it a continental twist by making red rice poha with peppers, mushrooms and cheese. Soak your poha in water, sieve it, add curd and a pinch of table salt in it. Then relish it with mango or lime pickle. This is a perfect way of experimenting with Indian way of nutrition!

Avoid gorging food

Somehow, the craving for food has increased considerably during this season. One, because there’s just so much around, and the other, because the changing season whets the appetite a little. One big mistake we make is to think that we can leave the balancing out until later-after the festivities are over. So learn how to eat smart. If heavy dinner is planned then through the day eat healthier options like besan cheela. You can make it healthy with 50:50 ratio of veggies and besan or ready to cook cheela mix. Add lots of spinach, garlic and mint. Pair it with a glass of buttermilk. And if the lunch was festive and way too indulgent, then opt for a balanced, easy-to-digest food like multi-grain khichdi from a trusted brand. Khichdi, the best comfort food for all time is also rich in dietary fibre and is convenient to cook. You can maintain a conscious equilibrium on a daily basis and keep your splurges down to a minimal. 

Also, if you’re going to a big party in the evening, it’s a bad idea to deprive yourself all day in. Instead, eat a low-fat, nutritious snack before you head out, say a bowl of yoghurt with some nuts or even better — a sprout chart made with unpolished dals. This will prevent you from attacking food and eating too much at the party.

End the day with drinking haldi milk with a pinch of pepper every night. The curcumin in haldi will hold your immunity up and help to soothe your body’s inflammation after all who wants to fall sick during the festive season. Just make sure you source turmeric that has 3 per cent curcumin guaranteed and has its natural oils intact to score sampann sehat all through the festive season.

(The author is the nutrition expert at Tata Sampann.)

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