The smart and healthy way to feast and celebrate

Festive feasting needn't be fattening

woman eating delicacy Celebration time and festivities are incomplete without special delicacies, and food that invariably comes with extraordinary calories. So most people during the festive season do one of the two: either resign to their fate and gorge on fattening food to burn it all later, or take great pains to avoid it totally. What if we told you that you don’t need to do either? Festive food leads to weight gain not just because of its nature, but because we don’t know when to stop. It’s possible to have your cake and eat it too, literally—and without putting on the kilos—if you just do a few things right.

    1. Avoid absolute abstinence. Practice moderation instead. For some of us, this is probably the only time in the year when our favourite foods are made. So enjoy yourself, but don’t eat all that you see. Limit your portion size and stick to one or two servings, not more.
    2. Opt for desserts made of natural sugar substitutes such as jaggery, dates and dried figs instead of sugar. They taste just as good. Squeeze the syrup out of mithai before eating.
    3. Even if you indulge, balance it out. For instance, if you eat dessert, then compensate by not having sweetened fruit juice or aerated drinks with your meals. Drink water instead. Or, help yourself just to your favourite dessert, not all the options offered.
    4. Eat a light snack such as a salad, soup, fruit, nuts, yogurt or milk before going to a party. Even at the party, avoid having too many starters that are fried or high in calories.
    5. Enjoy the company of the people around you, as much as you enjoy your meal. While eating, take small bites and relish your food. Most importantly, eat without guilt.
    6. Master the art of saying no. You don’t have to try everything to please your host. Do a quick check of the food laid out and pick only two or three items.
    7. You can’t be so busy celebrating that you can’t make 20 minutes for your daily exercise routine. Don’t get tempted to give up your fitness regime even if you’re in celebration.
    8. If you have to drink at a party, stick to drinking orange juice. Or at least limit your intake of alcohol and always eat something before drinking.
    9. Offer to get a low-calorie dish to the party. Your host will definitely appreciate the effort. If you’re the host, then make sure you don’t force-feed your guests.
    10. Be careful of how much food you ‘taste’ while preparing festival goodies. Often, while cooking we tend to eat more than normal without realising.
    11. Try to finish dinner at the same time as on a regular day, even if you’re partying or dining out.

Try this

Give healthier gifts in festive season. Here are some ideas:

  • Dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, prunes, pistachios
  • Opt for sugar-free mithai made from dates and dried figs
  • Flavoured yogurt
  • Dark chocolate/chocolate-coated nuts
  • Exotic fresh fruit bouquets
  • Home-made sweets with less sugar
  • Subscription to a health magazine.
Juhi Mittal is a practicing clinical nutritionist with a post graduate degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is passionate about nutrition and believes strongly in the power of foods.


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