It’s that time of year again. The rains subside and the festivities begin. In the next few months Ganesh Chathurti, Gauri Pooja, Dassera, Navrati and Diwali will be visible everywhere you turn. The streets are merry; houses are adorned with decorations, and families and friends get together to pay respect to God.Festivals are also a time for feasts, a time to offer the Lord his favourite foods, and to enjoy the same foods afterwards in the company of your loved ones. This time of year is also a cause of anxiety about adding inches to the waistline. You have worked all year to have a healthy lifestyle and eat sensibly. Parties, family get-togethers and even homemade sweets and farsan that are sitting on the cupboard counter are all temptations that you will face in the months to come.
Don’t sabotage your efforts during the upcoming religious occasions and gain the dreaded ‘festival fat.’
Some may have the attitude, “indulge now, this happens only once a year, and I will begin to lose the weight I gained after Diwali.” Ok, but what about Christmas, wedding season, and Sankranti…when does the list end?
You are blessed to live in a country with so many religions that give us so many occasions to celebrate, and by all means you should enjoy them to the fullest. It is definitely a time for indulgence, but pay close attention to those indulgences and make sure they are not binges. Know your calorie intake so you stay do not pack the kilos. It takes 7700 calories to put on a kilogram and although this may seem like a lot, simply put – it is not. One client could not control her love for modaks and used to skip lunch to eat her favourite sweet, the famed Ukkadachi modak. The only problem was she would have 7-8 of them in one sitting. This was until she found out how many calories she was putting in her body — 186×7= 1302 calories for lunch alone! She ate like this for many meals and for many days. After realizing how she was putting on weight, she eats one or two modaks, and works off those extra calories.
These calories get stored over time, and before you know it one kilo is gained – sound familiar? This list gives you an idea of how many calories are actually in some of the delicacies you may be having: (Each household preparation is different and the calorie value may vary)

  • 1 Steamed modak – 186 calories(without ghee!)
  • 1 Malai Peda — 150
  • 1 Bundi Ladoo – 185
  • 2 small Gulab Jamuns – 280 calories
  • Gazar Halwa (150grams) – 260
  • Kheer (150ml) – 200
  • Jalebi (100gm – 1 big piece) – 380 calories
  • Samosa (1 big) – 210 calories
  • Fried Namkeen ( 2 tsp) – 85 calories
  • Ice cream (1 small cup 100gm) – 200 calories
  • Kulfi (1 small cup 100gm) – 300 calories
  • Cashew nuts ( ¼ cup) – 178 calories
  • Peanuts ( ¼ cup) – 170 calories
  • Pistachio nuts ( ¼ cup) – 188 calories
  • Puri (1) – 150 calories
  • Kebabs (4 sheekh) – 308 calories
  • Fried papad (1) – 142 calories
  • Chakli (1) – 40 calories

In earlier days festivals used to be the only time to get special foods, but now as sweets and fried snacks are eaten all year long there is no need to gorge on them because it is festival time. India’s increasing obesity rates can be attributed to lifestyle changes and diet. High calorie foods, especially sweets and fried items, need to be curbed.

Follow these tips on how to handle the temptations of the coming months:

  1. Do not skip breakfast. You may think that you will be saving calories but you will be famished by lunch time and overeat. Eat a light breakfast, include fruit in the meal.
  2. Drink water – don’t forget to get your intake of H2O. Drinking 2 glasses of water before a meal will reduce your appetite.
  3. Continue to eat healthy snacks – this will make sure you do not overeat at meal times and eat the faral(homemade snacks made during Diwali) in the cupboard.
  4. Always have fruit available. Reach out for it when you get a sweet craving.
  5. Serve fruit when you have guests – set a trend. Guests may be expecting ladoos and chewdas and you can serve those as well, but give them some healthy options. No need to cut the fruit – serve it whole. They will be appreciated and hopefully reciprocated.
  6. Eat slowly and savor every bite of whatever you are eating.
  7. Eat an apple to curb your appetite before a party or family get-together.
  8. Beware of alcohol – it gets your defenses down and before you know it you have gorged on too many tikkas, samosas and chips.
  9. Fill your plate with salads. You do not have to be impolite to your hosts insisting for you to take seconds, just fill up on salads which also keep your plate looking full.
  10. Continue to exercise. If you are too busy in the morning with pujas, then make time in evening or exercise in your room, but don’t leave it out. You are already taking in extra calories and if you are expending them less, then this will add to faster weight gain.
  11. Lastly don’t make food the center point of the festival. Prasadam and Iftar are significant but more importantly remember your faith, family and friends, count your blessings and enjoy the holiday!

Published in Pune Mirror, August 29, 2011