Festive foods made healthy
Enjoy the festival season, eat, drink and be merry. Plan the food that you eat during this time to avoid unhealthy snacking

The festive season has begun and with it are also foods that are rich and heavy, making your cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar rise. Of course, we all want to enjoy the food. But letís rethink and plan the food that we eat during this time. During these days, various sweets are made and a lot of us fast. Our regular food is completely altered. Unfortunately we have forgotten that fasting is about eating light food which is easy to digest.


The most crucial seeming part of the celebrations is the mithais. Our Indian habit of "muh meetha karo" let everyone take liberty with their health. Of course, sugar is required by the body, but we need to find better options for mithais without depriving ourselves of either merriment or health.

Letís start thinking first about the basic sweet during the festive season óthe prasad. This offering to God is distributed to everyone for blessings. Eating something sweet is considered auspicious. Unfortunately, todayís sweets are high in sugar, and are also often deep fried. But we can always make them healthier without compromising on the taste.

Itís simple; letís go back to ancient Indian wisdom, where these rituals originated and where white sugar was rarely used. The sweets were sweetened with jaggery or dry fruits, such as dates and raisins. We, too, should sweeten our payasams, sheeras and sajiggas, with jaggery and raisins. We could even make sweets only with dry fruits like dates, apricots and figs. These are delicious and contain natural sugar as well as vitamins and minerals that can increase iron and calcium content. Dates, prunes, raisins, apricots and figs are zero in fat. To make khoobani ka meetha, take aloo bhukara or dried apricot), chop a few figs in it. Then soak and boil it. Hot or chilled, this mithai tastes delicious! Donít add white sugar or fat.

Have steamed snacks like dhokla
Have steamed snacks like dhokla
Idlis are a better choice than fried vadas
Idlis are a better choice than fried vadas

Opt for salted fresh lime or jaljeera. Avoid soft drinks and fruit juices
Rasgulla is healthier than gulab jamun
Rasgulla is healthier than gulab jamun
Avoid fried snacks like dahi vada
Avoid fried snacks like dahi vada
High in sugar, sweets are often deep fried
High in sugar, sweets are often deep fried

The best fat is the one that comes from nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and coconut. Alternatively, thereís cowsí ghee. Sweets made from these nuts contain good quality fat sources like nuts and coconut which decrease cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels. So replace unhealthy fat with healthy fat. Instead of fried sweets have sweets like payasam, mishti dahi, sandesh or even fruits with yoghurt.

Even during fast, replace sabudana wada with sabudana khichdi, fried potato with boiled potato with chili and salt puris with rajgira (amaranth) roti or singhada (water chestnut) flour. Combine with a cucumber salad and light vegetables like white gourd or pumpkin.

No need to avoid samosas or vadas. Because you can bake anything you can fry. Replace fried snacks with baked ones; fried chivda with roasted one, etc. Frankie rolls are a very good substitute for samosas. Chakris, puris and kachoris can be made with less fat and baked. Savories like patras, muthias, dhoklas or mini idlis can be steamed. Lots of vegetables can be added to these. Fried aloo tikkis can be replaced with the roasted aloo tikki either baked or on a non stick pan. One can roast potato bondas in an idiappam maker. Fried chats can be converted to simple boiled potato with curd with date chutney roasted cumin powder, chili and rock salt. A bowl of fried snacks is 500 calories where as 30 pistachios is only 100 calories and packed with vitamins.

Refresh yourself with a variety of healthy drinks, be it rejuvenating coconut water, or a sugarcane juice. Alternatively, there is also the chatpata jaljeera, or even refreshing masala buttermilk. While going out, opt for a salted fresh lime soda and avoid colas, soft drinks as well as fruit juices.

All in all, enjoy the festivities! Donít deprive yourself, and simply get healthy alternatives to the foods that will cause you harm.

Remember to take the time out to exercise. Whether itís a simple walk, swimming, or yoga, or cycling ó or even dancing! Make it a group activity, if you feel it motivates you more.

Keep in mind that a little bit of tasting food here and there ó throughout the day ó add up to a lot of calories. So, even when youíre cooking, avoid tasting too much.

Itís mandatory to remember that the whole point of celebrating is getting together, and not to eat. Be wary of using this as an excuse for binging on unhealthy foods. There is no need to miss out on fun and celebration, but youíre not bound to eat everything in sight.

When you consume the foods which have lesser calories, you gain less weight and the possibility of obesity, diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels is far lesser.

ó The writer is Mumbai-based obesity and lifestyle disease consultant. She also councils for diets online . Email Ė /,
















Walking is the superfood of fitness

Walking may never become as trendy as CrossFit, but for fitness experts who stress daily movement over workouts and an active lifestyle over weekends of warrior games, walking is a super star. For author and scientist Katy Bowman, walking is a biological imperative like eating. In her book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, she suggests there are movement nutrients, just like dietary nutrients, that the body needs. Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, California, says "It's a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise." Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that combined physical activity and inactivity may be more important for chronic disease risk than physical activity alone. "Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day," Bowman said. "You can't offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise." Leslie Sansone, creator of the "Walk at Home: Mix & Match Walk Blasters" DVD, said too many people believe that spending gruelling hours at the gym is the only way to fitness. "There's this "Biggest Loser" idea out there that if you're not throwing up and crying you're not getting fit," she said. She added that a small study of non-obese men published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise by scientists at Indiana University suggests that three five-minute walks done throughout three hours of prolonged sitting reverses the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on arteries in the legs. Three miles (5 km) per hour is a good beginning, gradually working to 4 miles per hour, she said about walking. Dr Carol Ewing Garber, president of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), notes that fitness-walking guidelines of 10,000 steps per day may be too much for many. "About 7,500 steps may be more accurate," she said, adding that current ACSM recommendations call for at least 150 minutes of activity each week. Garber, a professor of movement sciences at Columbia University in New York, said research suggests that even one bout of exercise causes beneficial physiological effects. But she concedes that walking does not do everything. It is less beneficial for bones than running, and for strength, it is better to lift weights. "Still," she said, "If you're going to pick one thing, research says it should be walking."

Bottled up Ďwarmí water is harmful

Scientists have warned against drinking water from a bottle if it had been left somewhere warm for a long time. A study by University of Florida says since plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate, when heated, the material releases the chemicals antimony and bisphenol A, commonly called BPA. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said BPA is not a major concern at low levels found in beverage containers, it continues to study the chemicalís impacts, and some health officials claim that the chemical can cause negative effects on childrenís health. A research team that studied chemicals released in 16 brands of bottled water kept at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks, what researchers deemed a "worst-case scenario" for human consumption. The study found that as bottles warmed over the four-week period, antimony and BPA levels increased. Of the 16 brands, only one exceeded the EPA standard for antimony and BPA. Based on the study, storage at warm temperatures would seem to not be a big problem. However, more research was needed to know if other brands were safe. Drinking that water occasionally wonít be dangerous, but doing so regularly could cause health issues, she said. And it wasnít just water containers, as more attention should be given to other packaged drinks such as milk, coffee and acidic juice. The study is published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Playing after school makes kids sharper

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Reduce salt intake to prevent heart disease

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