India is the land of festivals, and we love to celebrate all of them. In a calendar year, we have more festivals than we can celebrate. We celebrate each festival with devotion, paying attention to every custom, ritual and tradition.
Every festival in India is associated with community gatherings, meeting up with friends and families, and unique dishes cooked during that festival. Scrumptious savouries, melt in mouth desserts and sweets like Modak in Ganesh Utsav, Gujiya in Holi or Gulab Jamun or Jalebi in Diwali, mishti doi and payesh during Durga Puja are part of the festival menu.
If we keep the rituals aside, festivals mean fun, food and recreation. Indian festivals are incomplete without getting together and having conversations. These festive social meets definitely feature delicious cooked meals and sweets. Some of them come to us as prasad. Be it the fear of divine wrath or the simple happy feeling we get when meeting friends and relatives, we dine together and, most importantly, share those festive sweets and overeat.
Mindless snacking during festivals
Let’s break down the holiday overindulgence. Generally, if we treat ourselves with 2-3 desserts in a day, we unknowingly eat about 15 sweets in a week during the festive season, leading to increased sugar intake. In addition, we also eat an increased amount of dairy, saturated and unsaturated fat, ready to eat snacks and salted or sugary dry fruits during this time.
High sugar consumption, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, irregular hours, consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, can start showing in the form of an expanded waistline right after significant festivals like Navratri, Durga Puja, Onam, Diwali and Bhai Duj.
Sometimes, we follow our traditions blindly without considering our physical state, lifestyle restrictions and parameters like age, illness, and emotional state. For example, we fast for those nine days of Navratri. We eat what we had seen our parents and elders eat when we were growing up: fried, starchy, and sugary food. As a result, we wrongly associate the festival with the wrong foods.
However, our ancestors led different lives. They were more active, less into gadgets and not exposed to the sugar and preservatives laden fast food that is part of our daily staples. Therefore, it is advisable to make specific tweaks in our daily menu as per our lifestyle and calorie requirements, even when we fast or celebrate during a festival.
According to a survey report, people eat 40% more when eating in a group, which is irregular and puts one at certain immediate health risks. And of course, we do not always get the time to exercise and get off-track and tend to gain a few pounds.
Common mistakes that we make post a festive binge
1. Yo-yo dieting
It is okay to get off-track sometimes. It is normal. You can get back to the routine gradually. But the biggest mistake post-festive season is that we go for extreme exercising schedules and diets. We feel these forms of self-punishment and denials can help us shed those extra kilos. But any extreme can harm our bodies instead of getting back to shape. Sudden change in dietary patterns, from overeating to starvation mode, the body gets confused. Our metabolism rate is imbalanced, turning to either a lower metabolism rate or a very high rate of metabolism. Both can be harmful to the body.
2. Resorting to the “miracle pill.”
Sometimes we resort to extreme measures like meal replacement shakes and magical pills to melt the excess fat away instantly. Do they work? Yes, they do. Do they have side effects? Some of them do. Should we have them without the guidance of any nutritionist or health coach? Absolutely no.
3. Detox for a day and vanish all the weight in 7 days
We have ten lime water shots or lauki juice or a dahi-papaya diet for a week to get back to shape. We believe that Indian traditional medicine and Ayurveda strongly recommend healthy cleansing and fasting rituals. Of course, Ayurveda practices include detox rituals. But do we understand Ayurveda? By understanding my doshas through an online calculator, can I go for a self-planned cleanse for a week? No, we cannot.
4. The quick-fix gym membership
It is brilliant to have a membership when the body is fit to exercise. When overweight, we may need to go for a health checkup and have a fitness coach before starting a gym journey. But instead of doing that, we sign up for gym memberships without assessing our fitness goals.
However, studies show that most people who take annual membership in gyms fall off the bandwagon within six weeks of starting. The reason is that they are not physically fit to jump into a routine. They also compare themselves with other gym-goers and feel demotivated because of negative body image issues.
Taking the Right steps: Pre and Post – Festive season
1. Start a simple and easy to follow fitness routine
Take out at least half an hour for exercising daily, even during the festive season. A 30-minute physical activity can do wonders, leaving you active throughout the day.
2. Eat Mindfully and joyfully
Who does not like sweets? For sure, you are allowed to treat yourself to those heavenly tasting desserts. But, have self-control, eat in moderation, and you are good to go. Sustain your clean eating habits and avoid binge eating.
3. Do not follow a fad diet
Strict diets like keto or intermittent fasting might help you in the short run, but they need higher commitments. Moreover, following them unsupervised can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Instead, look for a sustainable diet under the guidance of a qualified nutritionist.
4. Be Gentle with Yourself
Develop a positive relationship between food and festivals. Sometimes we overeat to accommodate an extra piece of laddoo made by a family member to not hurt their sentiments. Make a note that you will eat that piece of sweet cooked with love when you are slightly hungry. Just spacing out the intake of your favourite food can help you to stay in control.
5. Healthy Swaps
Instead of store-bought kachoris, make puris with healthy stuffing. Instead of fried snacks, go for tasty substitutes like roasted makhanas, hummus with pita bread, fries made out of sweet potato and served with homemade tomato salsa. If you are planning to consume alcohol, say no to the additives and mixtures. Instead, have plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
6. Seek help from the best in business
Download the HealthifyMe app on your phone. Track calories, talk to the experts, and they will guide you through the most beautiful seasons in the year. Eid, Diwali, Christmas, New year and the wedding season, why should we miss out on all the fun?
Let’s understand clean nutrition, which is a must for a healthy lifestyle. However, a healthy lifestyle comes with practice and commitment. It is also associated with being practical and having self-love. Reward yourself this festive season by correcting your unhealthy habits. Take initiatives towards improving your health.
Festivals are an extension of our culturally rich heritage. So let us celebrate our incredible festivals without restrictions but with a clearly defined plan and specific life hacks.