The festival of Diwali is about to light up our homes and all our lives as well. It's about lights, celebrations, mithais, namkeens and all those mouth-watering delicacies. Food has a special significance in our culture and celebration. Sharing sweets, either homemade or the bazaar, with each other is one of the highlights and in literal sense it lights up our dining tables, side tables and fridges etc
With so much temptation going around, munching on them is a natural tendency, right?
Before you start thinking, "Here's another diet article telling us not to eat what we want to eat", take heart.
I will only take you through the process of tickling your taste buds just enough to savour the sweetmeats and not let your indulgence reach a stage where you say "I don't want to see these foods for another year" or "I feel so guilty of eating so much " and hit the panic button.
Firstly, during Diwali, you may be surrounded by people. You may be busy entertaining them and conversing with them about juicy topics filled with laughter, some namkeen and mithai to add additional spice to the conversation. During such moments, we are not really concentrating on the food itself but on the company of people around us. Hence many a times it's not the food you are enjoying but the company of your friends and family. You unknowingly munch on a whole lot of food than you wish to eat and enjoy.
Secondly, after Diwali is the time when we find a large quantity of snacks and sweets still lying around the house. All the delicacies received from well-meaning friends and relatives still decorate your home.
We continue to munch on these extra snacks which "need to be finished." As we move about the house, we open the dabbas and pop one or two chaklis or one or two laddoos on the way. The activity may be so involuntary that sometimes without even enjoying the food you unnecessarily load your digestive system and then stress your mind for overeating.
Then we are perplexed as to how our clothes have got a little tighter.
Relax and believe me there are plenty of small changes you can make to really cherish what you want to eat and not what you may be unconsciously consuming and not enjoying.
Tips to avoid unnecessary, unwanted and especially un-enjoyable munching which add extra calories :
1. Concentrate on the food: When at a gathering, party or at others homes, concentrate while serving food on your plate. Avoid chitchatting at that moment. If possible continue the same while eating food. You would easily avoid a minimum of 100 calories by avoiding that extra helping of a vegetable (greasy) or butter soaked naan which you may not even realise you gobbled (not chewed) and thus, overate.
2. Do not procrastinate to keep the snacks in place: After guests leave your home clear the plates and put the snacks immediately into the dabbas. They will remain fresh longer and also prevent you from snacking on them after you have enjoyed your share of snacks with the guests. This would again save you a minimum of 100 calories again.
3. Be assertive: When you visit someone's place and do not have the stomach to eat all that is served, learn to say "NO" politely by respecting them and your body too. There goes another 50-100 un-enjoyable calories.
4. Put your kids dabbas to some good use: The extra gulab jamuns, samosas which may be too difficult to refuse from insistent elders or other loved ones can be packed into your kids dabbas and consumed at a later appropriate time. Hence, you avoid unnecessary loading of your tummy. This will again save you approximately 100-200 calories.
5. Use the "Sharing" lesson you learnt in school: When you have a big portion of sweets (say for example a big ladoo) handed over, make small pieces of it and feed others and you take a part of it. This would get your relations tighter and prevent your trousers from getting a little tighter. So you divide that 150 calories among your near and dear ones, earn double the amount of warmth, enjoy the sweet and ingest lesser calories. That's not a bad bargain at all.
6. Munching on snacks between meals, a recipe for extra kilos: When eating high calorie Diwali snacks, serve them in your plate and eat them. Avoid having them immediately after lunch or in between meals in the free time.
7. Out of sight, Out of reach (if not out of mind): After Diwali, keep the sweet and savoury containers out of sight and at a place where you need effort to retrieve it, rather than on shelves where they are easily visible and available. This will prevent one from habitually munching unconsciously. This will also prevent indigestion and flatulence.
8. Share that extra mithai with a less fortunate child: This is also the festival of sharing. When visiting someone, carry that extra dabba of mithai which you think is really not what you want to eat right now, you may be surprised to see many kids on the road who would excitedly accept it and your joy may be doubled sharing it with them. You would actually be lighting up his Diwali for him and his family and experience the joy of giving. You also save your family and yourself from ingesting that extra 1000 calories.
9. Beware of "No Sugar" Products: All you weight conscious people, please do not be fooled by products stating "no sugar". This is often considered as a signal to eat without limit. These foods would have artificial sweeteners but the fat content of the food is not reduced. For example: a sugar free cookie cannot be made without adding loads of butter. Hence even if sugar is eliminated, the butter sure is present in generous amounts. Bear this in mind while consuming these products.
10. Khane ke baad kuch....peena ho jaaye: All of you who love drinking, would benefit by drinking wine, vodka, beer, whiskey, etc after your full dinner as alcohol would further stimulate appetite. It is not advisable to consume drinks on an empty stomach. Food will slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed by your bloodstream.
11. Bhool najaana....ghar ka meetha namkeen hi khana: It is better to munch on homemade foods. The reason being the quality of oil and other ingredients used would be much better and in an appropriate quantity. When we consume foods from outside, they are made in bulk, as a result the oil/ghee/dalda content in them is too high. This makes for unnecessary additional caloric intake.
12. Thirst or Hunger.... confused?: Water consumption needs to monitored. With the soaring temperatures we are either outside or in the comfort of AC's. In both the situations we are getting dehydrated. One can easily get confused between thirst signals and hunger signals which may be a cause for extra unnecessary calories. Carry a bottle of water (not sodas or aerated drinks) with you and make it a point to finish two such bottles during the day.
13. Sleep: Diwali in today's times does mean shorter days and longer nights. In the fun and frolic, sleep takes a back seat. After Diwali make sure you are back to your disciplined sleeping ritual. Sound and adequate sleep is essential to repair cells, balance the hormones and rejuvenate body cells. All these functions support fat burning.
These little tips will also ensure less heartburn, flatulence and thus minimal or non-use of acidity suppressants like antacids and other over the counter medications.
After following all these pointers if you're still feeling guilty, cut yourself some slack! Your guilt may be doing more harm to your body than you think. The stressed, guilty state of mind triggers the release of a stress hormone called cortisol which converts food to fat and prevents fat burning. Hence a happy calm mind and patience with yourself will do you a large benefit in the long run.
There's good news for the ones who have been regular with their diet plan comprising of adequate amount of food over regular intervals and a regular exercise schedule- you have insured yourself against weight gain for these festive days by increasing your metabolic rate over a period of time with your hard work. This will ensure your calorie burning continues at a steady rate and thus works at maintaining your weight. Make sure to get back to your wonderful routine of nourishment and exercise. You loved your body and you shall get back what you gave this wonderful asset.
The positive news for the others who have been starving themselves of the so called 'forbidden foods' like potato, rice , bread and a whole list of foods, you may have realised and felt so good when you were actually EATING this season. At that point of time the activity itself was so fulfilling that you really felt loved, happy and in a better frame of mind. Take that lesson and move to a more guided food preference to eat correctly all the food you wanted to eat and still be happy with that special you and your body (without comparison to others and without starving yourself).
Here's wishing you a very Happy Diwali.