India is a never-ending land of festivals which bring people close with unsurmountable fun, frolic, and Food! While fun and frolic should never come in limits, but for anyone who values their health, food should. You don’t really have to be on a super-strict diet regime when you’re busy dancing on the day of Visarjan with friends and family, but these 10 tips will definitely help you enjoy your festival and at the same time, not go overboard and make you regret the next day. I suggest, cut it out and hang it on your wall!
- Plan in advance– Going to an invitation after eating at home will just add to your calorie intake for the day thereby making sure that the festivals leave you plump and regretful. Plan your out-of-home dinners in advance and don’t indulge in the surprise second meals. (Yes, It happens).
- Portion control – Portion control is the easiest way to make sure your plate doesn’t make you fat. Proteins, carbs, and fats are the 3 components that make up your food. Here’s the golden rule – Fats count twice as much as carbohydrates and proteins. So prioritize on getting in the protein first. Let carbohydrates follow. And keep fats to the minimum to avoid getting in too many unwanted calories. That means – Avoid the gravy and soak up the excess oil from your parathas. Take your soya/meat/fish/daal first, take a little of the rice/roti, and avoid anything that shouts “I’m oily”. Quantity is the most important factor, control it.
- Home-made is always the best– The reason why home-made food is better goes beyond just hygiene. The main advantage is that you can control your ingredients. Use fewer fats, try to replace sugar with sweetening alternatives like stevia, erythritol or even sucralose and use low-calorie versions of ingredients like milk.
- Avoid extra servings –Avoid Round 2. A thoughtful and portion controlled first round should be enough to satiate you, even if it has sweets and desserts. Even when you fill up your plate, try to control the number of servings. Less is better. Feed the hunger, not the desire.
- Slow down –Researches has shown that eating slowly, chewing your food slowly and connecting to every nibble not only makes you cherish your food more, but also helps you digest it better and satiates you so that you don’t need to get more of your food to say “I’m satisfied”. Connect with every bite and slow it down. Don’t fidget with your phone or be busy in something else while you eat. Focus on the plate and slow it down to feel every nibble.
- Dry fruits aren’t really “good” –Okay, dry fruits are technically good. They have healthy fats and good micronutrients, but like I said earlier, quantity matters. A couple of them won’t hurt, but that’s not what we do when it comes to dry fruits – We keep eating without realizing the total amount of calories we ingest from them. Dry fruits are very dense in calories. Imagine, only 10 gm of almonds (about 11-12 pieces) can have over 100 calories. An average person eats over 30-40 gm in a single go!
Accumulated over days, that’s a disaster. So, no mindless eating!
- Snacking awareness –To be true, snacking is a bad habit. We don’t snack out of hunger or the need to be fed. We snack only because we are bored, and that – is detrimental to your body. For your body, it’s just extra calories going in and any extra calorie that your body doesn’t use, it saves as fat for future use. Technically, that’s how you gain fat. Mindless eating contributes a lot to that. So be aware of what goes into your mouth. When the next packet of chips opens up, or the popcorn tub comes your way, don’t eat it just for the sake of it. If you can’t avoid, eat once and then don’t. the tagline “No one can eat just one” is not really true if you are aware you know!
- Beverage options –My first advice would be to stay away from alcohol. Compared to carbohydrates and protein it is almost twice in calories). However, for a teetotaler, a salted lemonade (use sweetener for sweet) or a Diet version of a cold drink would be the best option. For the daredevils, going light on the mixer would be my advice. Avoid too much juice or cold drink in your drink/cocktail. Soda and ice are still fine as a mixer. And no more than 2-3 drinks!(Chai and coffee lovers – Carry a small pack of a sweetening alternative with your (stevia, sucralose, erythritol, etc) to avoid sugar.)
- Sharing is caring (for yourself) –The food gifts, sweet boxes, and chocolates that you get – Share them! Keeping it for yourself will eventually lead you to binge on them. Same goes for your fridge as well. Keep your fridge free from carbonated drinks, sweets, and foods that weaken your willpower. Indulge a little (portion control) and share the rest.
- Don’t skip exercise –Just because it’s a festival doesn’t mean that you have to take a break from your workout. I’d suggest hitting the gym but even if you can’t, try to work out at home. Bodyweight workouts and resistance band workouts are great ways to not miss your daily dose of muscle stimulation even if you don’t go to the gym. Additionally, increasing your energy use by trying to walk and using the stairs as much as you can also go a long way to even out the energy balance.
There you have it. 10 tips to make sure that you don’t fall off your fitness wagon even in the festive season. Happy Festivals!
Senior Nutrition Consultant, SQUATS Fitness Pvt. Ltd.
Editor-in-Chief, FITMAG Magazine