Pick small portions: When you visit friends and relatives around Diwali, brace yourself to eat small. Pick a small piece of sweet or other rich savouries. Take a side plate rather than a dinner plate to help you control the portions of rich and fattening food.
Opt for nuts, seeds, trail mixes and dried fruits as snacks: Choose snacks such as roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, trail mix, roasted nuts, chana, makhana, sprouted seeds, etc. as salty snacks; and fresh fruits and dried fruits as sweeter snacks as these are rich sources of good fats, proteins and energy-giving carbs. Avoid heavy desserts, sweets, farsan and fried foods wherever possible.
Make smart meal choices: If you’re visiting friends over a meal, try to choose menu items that are rich in fibre, as they fill you up fast and keep you satiated for long. Choose dals, dried beans, variety of vegetables, roasted/grilled fish and chicken breast, whole-grain tawa rotis rather than heavy cream-based curries, fried fish and meat, pooris, bhaturas and other maida-based Indian breads.
Avoid sweet beverages: These are the main diet-poopers that can mess up your diet drastically due to high calorie-sugar content. These are colas, syrupy ice-teas, canned juices, sherbets, etc. If avoiding beverages is not an option, then go for the healthier choices such as, nimbu pani with a little honey, cold-pressed juices, fresh fruit juices, buttermilk, lightly sweetened thandai, jaljeera, unsweetened or lightly sweetened tea and coffee.
Go slow on alcohol: Alcohol is a major diet-buster full of calories. If you can’t avoid it, drink sparingly and sensibly. Choose red wine over beer and highly sweetened cocktails. Try sipping slowly so that you don’t have to go for the second glass.
Choose low calorie sweets: If buying sweets, then choose the ones made with natural sweeteners such as dates, anjeer or the ones made with organic jaggery. If you have a choice of making sweet dishes at home over buying sweets from outside, go for home-made desserts. They have healthier ingredients such as milk, paneer, rice, semolina, fruits, dried fruits, nuts, healthy Indian spices like cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, cloves, etc.
Drink lots of water: Drinking enough water throughout the day flushes toxins such as excess sodium out of the body, which in turn cuts bloating.
Exercise regularly: Add exercise to your week prior to Diwali if you don’t exercise at all. And if you work out on and off, make exercise a regular part of your daily routine. If you’re regular with your exercise regime, add some more intensity to your workouts to help you create an adequate calorie deficit to accommodate festive eating.
Never visit people on an empty stomach: When you visit people without eating adequately, you will end up making wrong food choices such as sugary and fried foods. It is because your blood sugar spikes up if you haven’t eaten for long hours and you start craving for unhealthy foods. To avoid these weak moments, eat healthy before leaving home to socialise. Even if you’re invited out for a meal, nosh on low calorie foods such as, salad/soup/bowl of oats/fresh fruit, etc. before leaving home. This way, you will not be tempted to overeat or make unhealthy choices.
Share the sweet load: Diwali is a time to give and receive sweets. Agreed! But whoever said you have to eat everything you receive? And if you do plan to devour all that you receive, don’t be shocked at the post-Diwali fat pile-up too. So, wisdom says, share your sweets after tasting a few pieces from the gift boxes (if you must!) and give away the rest. Distribute them amongst your house-help, driver, dhobi, watch man and to whoever else you wish to. While this will put a smile on their faces, you have one on your face too for having hoodwinked unwanted fat.
Maintain momentum post-Diwali: If you wake up next morning still guilty of gastronomic overindulgence, relax and take a deep breath! Cut down on calories for a week through a food detox. Eat fresh salads, clear soups, low fat smoothies, fruits and steamed vegetables through the day. Avoid sugar and fried foods completely. Maintain a regular exercise regime. Viola! You’re back to your fit self in no time!
Gift Healthy: Instead of gifting the usual high calorie sweets such as motichoor laddoo, malai laddoo, kaju katli, malpua, etc., be different and show that you care! Swap these sweets for healthier options such as granola bars, energy bars, whole-grain nachni laddoos made with jaggery, trail mix, fruits, dark chocolates and cold-pressed juices. In this manner, you spread the message of healthy Diwali amongst your friends and relatives. You never know, they might follow suit by gifting you healthy hampers from next Diwali. “As you sow, so shall you reap” may be true after all.