Well, it’s that time of the year again. Festival time, which means mithais, lots of eating out, rich food and sheer indulgence. Wonderful. But by the end of it, we are also wonderfully stuffed. No matter how we try to avoid it. “I’m a conscious eater, but the festive season is unmanageable,” says lawyer Meetu Chandra, “How much can you guard yourself? You give in, telling yourself it’s okay, it’s just for this month.”
True, it’s just for this month, but we can make the best of the festive season, say experts, along with making the best of ourselves. We just need to know what to eat – and more important – how to eat it.
“You can and you must indulge,” says Roopali Dutt, head of the department of clinical nutrition, Fortis Hospital, Delhi. “This is the time for it. But there’s a key to keep in mind – moderation.”
Agrees dietician and certified fitness trainer Neesha Maria Bukht of Talwalkars gyms, Mumbai, “With a little planning, you can eat out without blowing your diet.”
How? “The trick is to eat small quantities of whatever you want to eat, and eat it in a balanced manner,” says Dutt. “It isn’t necessary to eat butter chicken or pasta in cream sauce every time you go out. Have that on one day, and juggle between salads and grilled / baked dishes, or just roti and seek kababs or tandoori chicken / paneer otherwise.”
For other tips, read on.
If you’re out for drinks and dinner, then have salads instead of peanuts with your drinks. “Peanuts, chips and so on are avoidable. Fresh cut salad like cucumber and carrots and celery with dips is better. It will fill up your stomach a little and help you not overeat,” says Dutt.
Deep fried appetisers are a complete no no. Boiled, broiled or roasted are better options. “Add a soup to your meal,” says Dutt. “Not a creamy one but a clear broth that is healthy, filling and delicious.”
“Always select food that is either steamed, poached, roasted, broiled, boiled, grilled or baked. Beware of any dish that is described on the menu with these words: cream sauce, butter, makhani, oil, au gratin, breaded, kofta, alfredo, battered or batter-dipped, crispy, cheesy, malai. These dishes are notoriously high in calories,” says Bukht. “Also, banish buffets. When we’re given more choices, we tend to eat more. Order a la carte.”
If you’re fond of Italian food, go for a tomato sauce-based pasta instead a cream-based one. “Also, a pasta should not be your complete meal. Add grilled fish or chicken and some salad on the side. It will limit your flour and cream intake and will be a balanced meal,” says Dutt.
A plain tandoori or roomali roti is the best bet with an Indian meal. “Avoid lachcha parathas, stuffed rotis, naans and butter naans. There’s too much flour, ghee, butter or oil in those,” says Dutt. “If you must have it, have only one. But then have it with grilled or tandoori food and maybe just a little dal.”
Stay on track
Curtail your regular workout if you must, but exercise daily. “Do some breathing and bending and stretching exercises for at least 10-15 minutes a day,” says dietician Bhavna Arora. “It will help keep your metabolism going as usual. Start your day with a glass of lukewarm water and lemon. It helps your digestion and cleanses your stomach.”
Six meal course
Small meals at regular intervals will not only help you stop indulging, but also make sure you’re satiated.
“Eat smaller meals during the day if you’re dining out,” says Bukht. “Just be sure you don’t eat too sparingly so that you’re so famished by dinnertime that you overeat. Have a small, healthy snack in the evening to quell hunger if you’re going out for dinner.”