Let it be lit & light

This festive season, be guilt-free and indulge yourself just a bit to stay healthy, suggests Rashmi Vasudeva

health

Sugar, spice and everything nice — nope, certainly not girls, but the season that is upon us. Tis’ the season of pig-outs, hastily abandoned fitness dreams and unrestricted decadence of the diet kind.

Barely have we come up for air after the Dasara indulgences, and Diwali, with its gleeful promise of making us all as rotund as those earthen diyas we light, is here. And of course, it is itching to drown us in soan papdis, kaju barfis and assorted pedhas, not to mention wine-and-dine offers and exotic liqueur treats.

Strictly speaking

In fact, anecdotal surveys suggest that many people simply give up exercising and dieting during this period, in sheer despair about the mountain of temptation they need to side-step. Needless to say, they end up feeling guilty when they binge on sweets or overeat during a get-together. This means neither are they able to enjoy the festivities fully nor are they maintaining their healthy routine. Psychologists are now calling this the ‘sugar stress’ or ‘sugar anxiety’ that rears its head every year when the festive season starts.

But, but. It need not be so. Now take that deep breath. Yes, it is possible to have what the millennials call a ‘lit’ festive season, indulge yourself a bit and yet stay healthy. All it needs is a little self-care and planning. First up, throw that guilt out when you do your Diwali cleaning. As nutritionist and author of Your Mindful Journey to Weight Loss and Better Health, Susan Weiner says in her book, strictly restricting oneself nearly always does not work because it makes us feel “anxious, deprived and martyr-like”, which is not a great state of mind to be in when everyone else around you are ostensibly enjoying themselves.

What happens in such cases usually is one weak moment and that person tends to
throw in the towel completely. Most of us have had the experience of being on a strict diet but ending up giving into temptation once — say eating a cheesecake — and then declaring that since our diets are anyway ruined, we might as well eat that packet of chips as well. Sounds familiar?

For this very reason, Susan advocates mindful eating during the festive season.

Just following simple rules like being aware of what you put on your plate, not grazing day and night and sitting down to eat can make a huge difference, she says. Senior dietician at Fortis Hospitals Anushka Baindur agrees. “Moderation, moderation, moderation. That’s the only way,” she says. A simple way to combat overeating during a sit-down meal, for instance, is to opt for a salad starter.

“This will ensure you feel full; and thus you will end up consuming fewer sugar-loaded goodies.”

Another way to stay happy and avoid a heartburn is to keep a hawk’s eye on your portions.

“Sweets, oily and rich gravies and deep fried food — these are the three main offenders during the festive season. You cannot say no but that does not mean you will live on them,” she says.

Reboot & detox

In other words, allowing oneself what psychologists term ‘wiggle room’ will not only help you decide what is acceptable to eat (and what is not) but also reduce your chances of completely falling off the diet wagon. That said, if you end up indulging and overeating, fret not. There are ways to get back into the groove without beating yourself about it.

“Once the season is over, do not procrastinate — get back to an exercise routine immediately,” says Anushka. The best way to reboot and detox from all that fried and heavy stuff is to follow a small, but frequent meal pattern. “Eat a fibre-rich diet; include lots of fruits, vegetables, sprouts and nuts. Drink plenty of liquids, and no, I am not recommending aerated beverages. Tender coconut water and buttermilk are two great options. Include a large bowl of salad in your meal,” she advises.

Ultimately, know that life isn’t going to stop if you have gorged on a few extra delights in Diwali. However, this does not mean you have been handed a carte blanche to keep over indulging.

It instead means you have to make that effort to get back on track as soon as possible and find time for exercise, a little more than usual if necessary. No pain, no gain did you say?

 

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