Diwali brings joy, warmth, and radiance with beautiful lights embellishing the houses and decorative diyas paving the way for the celebrations. Sharing sweets and snacks is an integral part of this festival that we cannot miss. Nowadays, to get the taste of it all, they come in colourful all-in-one assorted boxes.
With all these choices at our disposal, we also think of maintaining our health and staying on course of our fitness journey. However, the good news is that experts say that occasional indulgence is not detrimental to health.
So here are a few healthy eating tips to keep in mind to make this festival a sweet-some experience.
Save some sweet space!
“Never skip a meal,” says Rutuja Joshi, a clinical dietitian from Bengaluru. Often, we skip meals to compensate for the festive delights. This practice can have a negative influence on our insulin regulation, says Joshi. Instead, she recommends saving a small portion of our plate for Diwali sweets. Fixing a time for your sweets and snacks can help prevent overindulgence.
According to Joshi, eating a whole piece of the sweet is better than having titbits of it every few hours, as it provides satisfaction and prevents excess intake. However, it is not all that easy to stop with just one.
More space for fruits and veggies
“Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help curb the cravings,” says Smriti Mishra, founder and consultant at Fitgenix, Mumbai. Fruits like apples, pears, and berries are rich in fibre which keep us full for longer, she adds. One can also have whole grains like quinoa brown rice, and millet in their meals which are filling and nutrient dense.
A study published in the journal Nutrients suggests that food rich in carbohydrates have low satiety, leading to overeating. In contrast, those rich in proteins and fibre can keep us full for a long time. This prevents excess calorie intake and helps with weight management.
Mishra says that we can also opt for dark chocolates, a healthier option when we crave more sweets.
Homemade for the win!
Speaking of healthy eating options, we can manage diabetes and maintain our gut health by going in for homemade diwali sweets and snacks. However, excess intake can often cause blood sugar spikes which can be detrimental to people with diabetes. Mishra says that it can lead to insulin resistance.
“It can also leave you feeling exhausted,” adds Joshi. When we consume excess sugary items, our body releases more insulin to bring down the increased blood sugar levels. The insulin is so effective that it can sometimes bring the levels below normal. This can cause low blood sugar levels leading to fatigue, irritability, and more sugar cravings.
Making sweets at home allows us to adjust the amount of sugar and salt that goes into them, says Mishra. “Limit eating the market-bought sweets as they are often high in saturated fats and trans-fats which are detrimental to heart health,” she adds.
One more good thing about homemade sweets and snacks is that you can choose healthy alternative ingredients. For instance, swapping whole grain flour for refined flour.
Joshi says that refined flour or bakery products are not rich in fibre. Overindulgence in the same can lead to gut health issues such as constipation. To maintain gut health, Joshi suggests adding buttermilk to our diet. Mishra recommends probiotic-rich food such as yoghurt, and curd and fibre-rich food like lentils and whole grains. “You can also add include ginger, mint, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, papaya, and organic aloe vera juice for healthy digestion,” says Mishra.
Post- Diwali detox
Mishra says that as Diwali gets over, one must avoid negative self-talk and focus on long-term habits. This includes maintaining a balanced meal every day. “Include sources of lean protein like grilled chicken, tofu, or tempeh, and beans, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and millets over refined grains,” she says.
For post-Diwali detox, one can add green tea, coffee, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, seaweed, and chia seeds to their diet, say the experts.
To go easy on the gut , Mishra recommends various smoothies and oats recipes. “Enjoy some sliced cucumber and carrot stick with hummus or a handful of nuts as mid-meal snacks.”
In short, focus on whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water and herbal teas. These can help you bounce back after Diwali, says Mishra.
Healthy eating tips from experts:
- Keep the dinner light. Avoid eating anything late in the night
- Control portion sizes by using smaller plates/bowls as a part of healthy eating practise
- Stay hydrated with two-three litres of water every day. Have coconut water regularly which is also rich in minerals
- Eat your meals on time to avoid cravings
- Continue with your exercise routine even during festivals