Indulge without tipping the scale this season.
THERE IS A NIP IN THE AIR that signals the onset of the festival season, synonymous with feasting. This means many outings, late-night parties and elaborate family meals, usually loaded with fats, sugar and refined carbs. The trick is to make healthy choices (that are fun) and control your portion size. Balance is the key to avoid over-indulgence-yes, even when it's raining parties all around you. The principle of moderation works the best. Also, don't forget to account for the added sugar in your hot and cold beverages. So, is it possible to celebrate without adding extra inches to your waist? Yes, I say. Here are some suggestions and tips that combine palate pleasing with good health.
Be your own food planner Just like you plan your clothes and meetings, plan your eating too. If you know you are dining out at night, then have a low-calorie lunch. And eat a light snack (salads, soups, vegetables, lentils, milk, yogurt or nuts and seeds) with green tea before leaving home to prevent over-indulgence of the first thing that you are served. Those watching their weight can maintain a food diary; it helps you keep a track of your caloric intake and make appropriate choices.
Go light For those trying to lose weight, it may be a good idea to perform the balancing act beforehand. Create achievable weight-loss goals a few weeks before. To stick to your plan, know that your healthy weight will keep you fighting fit.
Snack smart Opt for roasted/baked, non-fried, grilled and barbecued foods, and choose small portions. If at all you overindulge in snacks, keep dinner light or skip it altogether. If you are inviting people home, prepare savouries and sweets with healthy ingredients like multigrain flour, ragi, amaranth, flaxseeds and nuts (almonds, pine nuts, peanuts).
Avoid more than two medium drinks of wine or other alcoholic beverages, but it's best to limit your intake to one. If you have to go through a long evening over drinks, dilute them with water or soda, or sip on water intermittently. Diabetics should be especially careful as excessive alcohol can lead to hypoglycaemia-a condition in which blood sugar drops to below normal, leading to symptoms ranging from dry mouth and excessive sweating to seizures and, in extreme cases, even death.
Pick healthy curries Choose vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes with little gravy as they are loaded with extra oil and fats. Instead, try grilled, stir-fried or lightly sautéed vegetables. Grilled fish (not fried) and lean cuts of meat are filling and healthy too.
Learn to say 'no' politely but firmly. If you're the host, please don't force people to go for extra helpings. Look for alternative ways to say 'no' if someone loads your plate with more food than you want. Another strategy is to let your host/guest/friends know that you are off sweets or alcohol.
Go easy on desserts
Skip desserts if possible or choose light ones instead of deep-fried ones. And share with your dining companions.
Ishi Khosla is a clinical nutritionist, founder of Whole Foods India, founder president of Celiac Society of India and director of www.theweightmonitor.com.
Adapted from Prevention India.copyright March 2010 LIVING MEDIA INDIA LIMITED.
How to make healthy choices
- Use half the quantity of sugar in the recipe or combine natural low-calorie sweeteners to make Indian and Western desserts.
- Fruit purée can be used to sweeten ice creams and kulfi.
- Dry fruits such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins make for good munchies.
- Squeeze rasagullas.