Is it possible to make it through the stretch during festive season with maximum consumption of unhealthy delicious foods, fingerlicious cakes, pastries and alcoholic beverages, without packing on some serious pounds ? I would say, if you are trying to avoid festive season weight gain, it’s hard striking a balance but it’s not impossible.
Researches have shown that average person would gain maximum of their weight during the festive season. Credit goes to feasting and lack of physical activity. Our problem is “we eat and we hate ourselves for eating”. All this put us in awful situation of guilt. But there is no need to feel that way. After all Festivals are great time for celebrations, spending time with family and friends and enjoying festive foods and drinks. But this festive fare can be a big challenge for all diet conscious people.
So here I am writing few tips on how to be fit and not to pile on the calories.
AVOID GOING TO FUNCTION HUNGRY
If you are going to attend a big party in the evening and plan on gorging on the rich food, make sure to eat before visiting. Don’t arrive on an empty stomach. It’s a bad idea to starve yourself all day in anticipation (or in an effort to balance your calorie intake). People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in right once they reach the party. It’s a common misconception that you will lose weight by skipping meals. The truth is your metabolism slows down causing you to store body fat if calories are too limited for too long.
It would be better to start your day with nourishing breakfast (for healthy breakfast options, read my article “BREAK YOUR FAST” – And Lose Weight), have a light lunch then a small healthy snack like boiled egg sandwich or salad or may be a bowl of yogurt with some nuts, shortly before the event.
HEALTHY HOME PLATTER
Always try to eat smart and healthy. Atleast at home, you can control on what you eat. Choose slow digesting foods over the day, say a wholewheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal and nuts that will increase your energy levels slowly and maintain them for a long time. Heavy festive fare tends to be acidic in nature, so balance all those rich foods with plenty of alkaline foods like green veggies (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower) beets, apple, banana, orange etc. in your meals at home.
Mouthwatering Gulab Jamuns, dipped in sweetened syrups, packaged cookies or any other sugar-laden foods, on the other hand, will skyrocket the blood sugar levels and signal your brain to crave for more. Better to keep your splurges to the minimum.
BEING A HOST, MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES
If you are hosting a New Year dinner parties, choose wisely and offer your guest a range of healthy snacks. Healthy eating during festive season is a little difficult but not impossible.
- Instead of frying, grill your food.
- If you are roasting, use one of the many available low calorie spray oils.
- Try steaming vegetables to retain nutrients and flavours.
SELECT SMALL PORTIONS
I always say, “Moderation is the key”. In festive season parties, you will find your buffet table filled with tasty temptations. But if you want to stay fit, don’t be tempted to fill up your plate with purely rich, calorie-laden food. Take a time to tour the table first. Enjoy looking at everything and decide what you want to eat most. Use small plate to regulate food portions. Try to control, but still if you really crave a high calorie item, go ahead and treat yourself to a small serving. Avoid oily food stuffs, cheesey creamy dressings or dips.
SET YOUR OWN LIMITS
Many times we eat foods or have second ones just to please the hostess or cook. Your friends and family will always try to force feed you. But don’t eat just because you are being offered. Surely it would be rude to refuse the sweets and snacks during festive visits. Practice to say NO politely. Just say – “it looks delicious but I am full” or ” Thanks, I tried it and it was great”. Slowly you will find saying NO is not so hard to do after all.
EAT SLOWLY TO AVOID WEIGHT GAIN
The speed at which you eat can also influence your intake quantity. Eating fast is a quick recipe for an expanded waistline. Take time to enjoy the taste of your meal. Take small bites, chew slowly. If you eat slowly, you will realise that a smaller amount of food will satisfy you. This is so because the slow intake give the stomach and brain time to react. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full.
LIMIT LIQUID CALORIES
Consider your drinks, they can add to the calorie count very quickly. Don’t forget that alcohol is fattening too. It provides many calories and virtually no nutrients. Alcohol causes double damage because besides loaded with calories, it promotes fat storage that goes straight to your waist. Apart from this, it clouds your judgement too regarding what and how much you should be eating. So better to alternate your alcoholic drinks with glasses of water and other beverages.
Often your body mistakes thirst for hunger. When you are craving a snack and you should not be, drink a glass full of water and wait for 10 minutes. If you still feel the hunger pangs, go ahead and indulge sensibly.
CONCENTRATE ON SOCIALISING
Think about what you are celebrating rather than how great the food is. I suggest of taking the focus off food and move around, focus on having fun with your friends. “Conversation is calorie-free”, so chit-chat with your family and friends. Show your dance moves and SHAKE YOUR BON to burn calories. Yes, vigorous dancing can burn upto 350 calories per hour.
KEEP ACTIVE TO AVOID FESTIVE SEASON WEIGHT GAIN
Although we find it harder to be fit and maintain our exercise program with all the festive feasts, parties, shopping and travel but still make some time for exercise. You can either go for a walk, hit the gym, play a sport or any other form of activity that you could easily do in the comfort of your home. Just take out 20 minutes a day to compensate for the extra food you will be eating in the parties. Even just 15 minutes can help you maintain your fitness level.
KEEP A CHECK ON SUGAR INTAKE
Rich, savoury, scrumptious sugary food might be calling out to you at celebration time. Even though it’s hard to resist temptations all around you, there are simple steps you can take that can keep the extra festive fat off.
- The idea is to eat, not gorge. Always try to eat mindfully, not mindlessly. Remember, the first bite of the dessert is always the best. Have one or two bites more to satisfy the taste buds. Then stop. Any more will qualify as greed.
- Limit the type of sweets you eat. Set your priority. Instead of eating them all, decide which ones you absolutely can’t do without, eat only those. If your favourites include pastries and puddings then say a firm NO to chocolates, cakes, and others.
- If you are throwing a party, then offer your guests some homemade desserts and goodies. In this way, you can control the amount of sugar as well as the quality of ingredients. Try using coconut palm sugar, honey or jaggery. Use more nuts to make them healthier. Prepare your kheer with low-fat milk. Instead of eating rasgullas in the traditional way, where they are soaked in sugar syrup, try making baked rasgulla for a change. If it doesn’t sound tempting and you want your rasgulla in a regular way, it’s better to squeeze out the syrup which is loaded with sugar and enjoy it in healthier way. You can try Sandesh, which is paneer based and steamed. Other healthy sweet options are Oats apple phirni, Strawberry yoghurt, Badam burfi, Sweet potato halwa, Apple pie, Poached pears and even the popular paneer chenna murki.
- If you simply can’t resist calorie-laden desserts, then cut down on other carbohydrates in your meal. Let’s take an example, you could just have the soup, salad, and proteins like pulses, paneer, chicken etc. and avoid the white bread, rice and chapatis and then indulge yourself into your favourite sumptuous dessert. In this way, you can be fit and maintain a fine balance between health and taste to stay in shape this festive season.
SHARING IS CARING
Do not eat all the sugary sweets and chocolates that you have been gifted all at once. Share them with your friends or family to halve the calories or give them away to the less fortunate. Last but not the least, GIFT HEALTHY. Fresh fruits, dry fruits, and nuts are far better alternative to mithai and chocolates.
If you have any other tips, do share with us in the comments below !!