Deepavali / Diwali is the festival of lights: deep means “light” and avali “a row” to become “a row of lights.” Indians light oil wick lamps outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith: Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
Festivals are great times to celebrate family traditions, cook alongside elders and learn time-tested and favorite family recipes. The festival of lights—Deepavali—is around the corner and we certainly can’t hide our excitement.
With food taking center stage, it’s important to be mindful about cooking healthy foods and eating a balanced meal.
Here are a few important tips to enjoy the Deepavali celebrations without compromising on health:
- Healthy breakfast. Have a high fiber breakfast to ensure high energy throughout the day. Do not indulge in Diwali sweets and snacks early on in the morning.
- Keep your body hydrated. Drink 3 litres of water per day to stay hydrated and prevent unnecessary snacking and food cravings.
- Opt for healthy alternatives while preparing Diwali sweets and snacks. Add more almonds, walnuts, raisins, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds in your sweets. Use cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg and fruit concentrates to perk up sweetness. Replace refined sugars with organichoney, dates, or figs. You can also swap refined maida for wholesome flours like multigrain atta, raji, jowar, bajra. Choose fresh fruit salads topped with low-fat cream or home-made unsweetened rabdi. Reduce use of fats and oils by roasting, grilling, baking and steaming. Don’t fry foods! Serve lemonade, fresh fruit juices, coconut water or buttermilk instead of sodas.
- Do not head to a party on an empty stomach. Have light snacks at home before leaving to prevent over indulgence when eating out. Choose healthy options at the party such as grilled, sautéed, or steamed vegetables with no (or little) gravy. If you are a non-vegetarian, stick to roasted or grilled dishes. Avoid fried foods!
- Make healthy additions to the Diwali gifts. Include fresh fruits, dry fruits, unsalted nuts and seeds, organic teas and oils and a book on healthy living.
- Exercise early on. Begin the day with a walk or yoga. Increase the time of your regular exercise regime to compensate for the extra calories being consumed.