Make Healthy Food Choices This Festive Season
Plan a healthy platter for your guests and family
There is a slight nip in the air that signals the onset of the festive season, synonymous with feasting and rich food. This means numerous outings, late-night parties and elaborate family meals with food that’s loaded with fats, sugar and carbs. So, is it possible to celebrate without adding extra inches to your waist? Yes, I say. The trick is to make healthy choices (that are fun) and control your portion size. Balance and moderation are critical. Also, don’t forget to account for the added sugar in your hot and cold beverages. Here are some suggestions and tips:
Be your own food planner: Just like you plan your clothes and meetings, plan your eating too. If you know you are going to dine out at night, have a low-calorie lunch. And eat a light snack (salads, soups, vegetables, lentils, milk, yogurt or nuts and seeds) with green tea to fill yourself up before leaving home to prevent overindulgence. Maintain a food diary if you can; it helps you keep 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, remember that your healthy weight will boost your self-esteem and 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 such as multigrain flour, ragi, amaranth, flaxseeds and nuts (almonds, pine nuts, peanuts).
Limit alcohol: Avoid drinking more than two medium glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverages, but it’s best to limit your intake to one medium glass. If you have to go through a long evening, dilute your drinks with water or soda or sip on water intermittently. Diabetics, especially, should be careful as excessive alcohol intake can lead to hypoglycaemia—a condition where blood sugar drops below normal, leading to symptoms ranging from dry mouth and excessive sweating to seizures, and in extreme cases, even death.
Pick healthy curries: Choose vegetable or non-vegetarian dishes with little gravy which is typically 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.
Don’t force-feed yourself: Learn to say ‘no’ politely but firmly. If you’re the host, don’t push people to go for extra helpings. Look for alternative ways to refuse and if someone loads your plate with more food than you want, put it away in a discreet manner.
Go easy on desserts: Skip desserts if possible, or choose light ones instead of deep-fried ones. And share them with your dining companions.
How to make healthy sweets
- Use half the quantity of sugar in the recipe or combine natural low-calorie sweeteners to make desserts.
- Caramelizing sugar helps cut back on calories.
- Use fruit purée to sweeten ice-creams and kulfis.
- Dry fruits such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins are good munchies.
- Squeeze rasgullas before eating.
Alternatives to high-calorie sweets:
- Dry fruits (figs, apricots, prunes, almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, pistachios)
- Nuts coated with chocolate, honey or jaggery
- Jaggery-based sweets
- Exotic fruits
- Low-fat fruit yogurt
- Sugar-free ice-cream
- Low-calorie sandesh