The great Indian festive season is here. This is also the time to relish festive delicacies. Putting on extra kilos during festive season is common. However, owing to the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to avoid gaining weight as obesity and obesity related metabolic disorders are being identified by the World Health Organization as potential co-morbid factors responsible for COVID-19 disease severity and mortality. This festive season therefore comes with an extra caution to maintain a healthy diet and healthy weight. Simple guidelines and little tweaking are helpful to achieve this goal.
· The basic dietary principle of eating a healthy balanced diet remains unchanged during festivals. A balanced diet contains all five food groups enriched with vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
· Two-five servings of fruits. Mixed fruits are best as they compensate for all important nutrients.
· Five servings of vegetables in both raw and cooled form. Daily a plate of green salad is ideal with lunch.
· High fiber healthy grains in less quantity to avoid blood glucose elevation and accumulation of fat. Multigrain bread, broken wheat (Dalia), brown rice, oats, jawar, bajra, ragi are the choices for healthy grains.
· Low-fat dairy products – milk, paneer, curd, buttermilk, sugar-free fruit shake, and unsweetened lassi.
· Legumes and pulses like chana, kidney beans, soybeans are great sources to fulfill the need of adequate protein.
· Avoiding butter, ghee, and oil in large quantity. Avoid salt and sugar as much as possible.
Extra weight gain can easily be prevented with a smarter selection of foods.
· Baking & grilling: Instead of deep-frying snacks try to bake savory items. For example, make delicious baked samosas and muthias. Grill vegetable kebabs instead of frying them. For stuffing use low-fat paneer or tofu and green vegetables instead of potato. Less oily, vegetable stuff parathas are great breakfast options during this time.
· Cooking medium: Avoid using butter for cooking purposes instead use light refined cold-pressed oils. Use less ghee in sweet items such as kheer or sweets.
· Watch out for portion: It’s hard to control the temptation of eating the lip-smacking dishes that are prepared during Indian festivals and one should not have refrained from the joy of eating. Chose smaller plates and portions to avoid excessive eating. Combine the calorie-dense food with fruits and salad for satiety.
· Water intake: Drink a lot of water (three-four liters) to stay hydrated. Drink fresh fruit juices, buttermilk, lemon water, mint leaves infused water, etc. to make drinking fun.
Healthy foods & dishes:
Regular Indian dishes can be modified by replacing typical ingredients. For example:
· Instead of regular sugary rice kheer, make oats kheer with dates to bring the sweetness. Adding chopped dry fruits in dates-oats kheer will enhance the taste and nutritional value.
· Prefer a mixed fruit salad as evening snacks rather than fried snacks.
· Prepare dry fruit and seeds chikki with less jaggery. This snacks are rich in protein and keep the stomach full for a longer period of time.
· Prepare sweets with jawar, bajra, or ragi flour and not with refined wheat flour.
· While fasting chose a plate of fruits, sabudana khichdi, and homemade fresh fruit juices instead of deep-fried puri or paratha.
· Eat curd and buttermilk to maintain healthy gut health, avoid acidity, and excess weight gain.
(The writer is a Clinical and Public Health Nutritionist)