The festival of Navaratri – nine nights of celebration of goddess Durga has begun and has been welcomed with much fervour. The festival witnesses tons of devotees observing a fast for a period of nine days in honour of the goddess.
A strict no-meat practice enables one to savour various vegetarian specialties during this period. However, keeping a tab on your fasting methods is important to avoid any health mishaps.
Dr Purva Duggal, Head of Nutrition at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, suggests a few tips to conquer this fasting period and yet remain healthy.
Do not starve yourself: Even though you fast, you should not starve yourself and you should eat enough to get through the day; eat smaller meals frequently to maintain stamina.
Try to limit yourselves when it comes to fried food and opt for baked, grilled or roasted food instead.
Fasting is a good way to detoxify your body from the regular junk and alcohol that is consumed, helping maintain sugar levels in the body.
Although, keeping oneself hungry for a longer period of time can lead to severe acidity.
Avoid sugars: One needs to stay away from refined sugar and substitute it with healthier alternatives like jaggery or honey. If you have the habit of having a lot of sweets, then those sugar cravings can be curbed with various fruits or salads, since they are light and easy to digest.
Regular snacking can prevent you from feeling low and help maintain adequate sugar levels.
Always keep yourself hydrated: Unless you go for a ‘nirjal vrat’, it is important to keep yourself hydrated throughout. Besides water, a lot of other fluids can be consumed like coconut water, buttermilk, green tea, lemon water etc.
Avoid consumption of alcohol as it can lead to dehydration and slows down metabolism.
Avoid fasting if you’re pregnant: If a normal and healthy delivery is indicated, fasting within your limits will not have much of an effect on you or your baby.
However, if your pregnancy is indicative of complications, it is recommended to avoid fasting during this period. It is best in to consult your doctor before taking any step. Make sure you consume plenty fluid during this time.
Plan your day: Make sure that you do not overeat, especially packaged snack foods as they contain high amounts of iodine. Chalk out your meal plans for the day to ensure your stomach is satisfied.
Don’t rely on snacks too much, munching on nuts and dry fruits is a healthier alternative. Your lunch could be slightly heavy and dinner should be light, which is apt for proper digestion.
Avoid caffeinated drinks: Tea and coffee can help curb hunger pangs for a good amount of time. However, make sure you do not consume these on an empty stomach; it can affect your digestive system tremendously.
Consuming too much tea or coffee can often make you feel bloated or dehydrated. Insomnia might also set in which is definitely not healthy.
The author is the head of nutrition at Fortis Hospital, Mulund