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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Navratri - Nine Nights of Healthy Eating

Navratri Fasting

The Navratri (nine nights) festival which marks the onset of autumn is celebrated in different ways all over India. It is a festival of worship, dance and music and is celebrated from the first to ninth date of Ashwin Shukla Paksha of the Hindu Calendar for the worship of Goddess Durga. During the nine days of Navratri, feasting and fasting take precedence over all normal daily activities
During navratri, people abstain from non-vegetarian food and alcohol. Singhare ka atta (water chestnut flour) or kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour) is used to prepare rotis or puris for the fast. Sendha namak (rock salt) is used instead of common salt, for cooking on the festival. While on fast, dishes made of sabudana (sago) and potato are generally consumed. Beverages like tea, coffee and milk can also be consumed while on a fast.
Typical Navratra food is fattening. Fried potatoes, sabudana ki tikki, sabudana papad, kheer, pakodas are all high calorie foods, which not only make you put on weight but can also be bad for people with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc. Instead of puri or pakodas (both fried) made from kuttu atta (buckwheat flour), try out kuttu ki roti. You can also make some idli from the kuttu atta (buckwheat flour) and dosa from the semak rice.

Here are some tips to remain healthy during navratra:

1.      Use refined or olive oil instead of ghee.
2.      Use skimmed or low fat milk and curd. To make your curd more filling, add bottle gourd (lauki), cucumber (kheera) or tomato to it.
3.      Drink a lot of fluids like lassi, milkshakes, juices, vegetable soups, herbal tea etc. Besides providing energy, they also maintain the fluid levels and cleanse the toxins in your body.
4.      People who wish to lose weight can have following foods during fast: raita of bottle gourd (lauki), raita of pumpkin (kaddu) and fruit chat made with papaya, pear (nashpati), apple, and some amount of potato. Also, avoid sweet potato (skaharkand), kachalu, Colocasia (Arbi) and sabudana (sago). Kuttu (buckwheat) roti and fasting rice (samak rice) can be eaten but should not be made with too much ghee.
5.      If you have acidity and heartburn problems, make sure to avoid having empty stomach for long hours. Eat small portions every few hours daily. Cold milk, cream, curd and bananas are effective antidotes for acidity.
6.      People suffering from diabetes or high blood sugar must avoid the intake of sago (sabudana), singhara atta (water chestnut flour), potatoes, sweet potatoes (shakarkand), colocacia (arbi), kachalu etc. Diabetics should also avoid fried foods and fruits like banana and chikoo. Bottle Gourd (lauki), pumpkin (kaddu), apples, skimmed milk, citrus fruit etc. should be taken.
7.      Avoid fried foods and take more of curd, milkshakes, fruits etc. Fried foods generate a lot of heat in the body. So fruits and curd act as cooling agents. Also, go for healthy cooking methods like roasting, boiling, steaming and grilling.
8.      Replace fried potato chat with boiled potato chat and kheer with mixed-fruit curd.
9.      In case of cramps or colic (acute abdominal pain), put few drops of peppermint oil in water and drink it.
Navratras is the time to eat a variety of healthy foods. The ideal fasting diet should contain a balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

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