Stay Fit this Festive Season

India is the land of festivals, where people from different religions coexist harmoniously. While the celebrations happen all through the year, September till January is the time when the country can be seen at its vibrant best. There are series of festivals celebrated during this period right from Eid, Rakhshabandhan, Ganesh chaturthi, Onam, Navratri, Dusshera, Diwali, Christmas and New Year!

Food is an integral part of these festivals. Each festival has its own popular food and sweet preparations. These preparations are usually laden with fat and sugar; hence people pile on the kilos easily without even realizing it. And it is not always possible to stay away from temptation and say “NO”. We live by the dictum “Dear God”, if you can’t make me skinny, please make my friend fat”. India is known for hospitality and to make sure we don’t fall short of it, we always keep forcing our guests to eat more. Even the most strong-willed and health-conscious people find it difficult to resist temptation. Conversely do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods as there are high chances that you will go on a binge later. The best way to avoid piling on the extra kilos is to choose wisely, eat in moderation and follow a regular exercise regime. Here are a few tips to regulate your diet during this season without depriving yourselves of the pleasure completely.

WATCH YOUR FAT INTAKE-Keep a tab on your overall fat intake- oil, ghee, butter, cream & cheese.If you have to eat, eat when you are most active and not at the end of the day.Watch what you eat the rest of the day. Choosehigh protein and fibre options as they reduce your cravings for sweets, give you a feeling of satiety and keep you full longer.

SHARE THE LOAD-Share your sweets with everyone, so you don't end up eating too many. Take a bite or two if you have to and share the rest with someone else. If you eat more than that, you will end up feeling guilty later.

STOCK YOUR PANTRY AND FRIDGE WITH HEALTHY OPTIONS-Give away the extra sweets to your staff. Not when it is about to get spoiled but when it is still fresh and edible. This way you are sharing your happiness and staying away from temptation. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy options like fresh fruits, veggie sticks with healthy dips, dates, figs,apricots, nuts, dark chocolate, date and nut rolls, buttermilk, nimbu paani and protein bars.

BE A GOOD HOST-Be an ambassador promoting good health. Serve healthy options like dry fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, sprouts, chilled cucumber-carrot sticks, roasted makhana, kurmura, ragi puffs, jowar puffs, date rolls, muesli bars and nimbupaani, coconut water, buttermilk instead of the sugar laden sweets and drinks.Do not force people when they say no. Serve smaller portions of unhealthy sweets. Distribute nuts and dry fruits to friends, family and at work.

DO NOT STARVE- Most of us in a bid to stay healthy starve ourselves theday we have dinner plans at a restaurant or at someone's place. We are so ravenous by evening, that we end up eating almost double of what we would have normally eaten. Remember when you eat on an empty stomach, your body will seize it and store it as fat. The next time you are invited to a party, make sure you have something prior and then proceed - it could be a fruit, soup, glass of milk or some salad.

STAY HYDRATED-Keep a bottle of water always near you. Drink lots of water as it helps curb hunger pangs. Alternatively you can consume infused water with slices of fresh fruits, cucumber, lemon, ginger and mint for internal cleansing and to prevent indigestion and keep your skin hydrated, radiant and glowing for the festive season.

LEARN TO SAY "NO"-We always worry about hurting others feelings and never say no when we are offered anything to eat. Avoid attaching emotion of guilt to these offers to please others. Learn to say no and eat only when you really want to eat without saddling your body with extra calories.

STAY AWAY FROM "SUGAR FREE”-We often hear people say “I have diabetes, therefore, I only eat sugar free products". People during festivals even gift each other sugar free sweets. Beware! The sugar free market is booming thanks to our ignorance.Do not fall prey to the sugar free scam assuming it won't affect your blood sugar levels.'Sugar free'does not mean carb, calorie or fat free.When manufacturers remove sugar, they often add fat to the product making it higher in fat content than the product with sugar.Why eat nasty sugar free sweets when you can have the good ones with less carbs and simple sugars.It is advisable to check the food label on the product for the total carbohydrate,fat content before buying or consuming a product.

STAY ACTIVE-STAY FIT, MOVE MORE-We often see gyms empty during the festive season. Do not compromise on your workout no matter what. You can go to the gym or for a run, jog or walk first thing in the morning. If you keep it for evenings, there are very high chances that you may skip it. Make sure to put in extra effort and workout more on days that you binged.

CHOOSE YOUR POISON WISELY-Festive season usually calls for a drink and card party with friends and family. We all know that alcohol and good health aren't exactly good partners, but that doesn't mean you need to stay away completely. Limit the number of drinks to not more than 2-3 a week, and choose your poison wisely. The best options are red wine (for the anti-oxidants), and clear spirits. You can request single shot of clear spirit in water or soda water. Stay away from the aerated drinks and juices. Light or regular beers are a good alternative to strong beers, as the calories are reduced to nearly half. If you like white wine, go for dry white rather than sweet. Make a wine spritzer by adding some club soda to the wine. By doing this, you half the calories. Most importantly, watch what you eat with the alcohol. Avoid eating high fat, high calorie snack while drinking. Remember that the sole purpose of any festival is not food and drink. The whole essence of the festival and celebrations is to bond with your near and dear ones and spread cheer and happiness.

Enjoy the festive season!!! Here is a tasty recipe of apple-walnut Kheer to make your celebrations healthier.

Method: • Combine all the ingredients in a broad non-stick pan,mix well and bring to a boil,while stirring occasionally • Cook on a slow flame for 4-5 minutes,while stirring occasionally • Serve warm.