It’s Okay to Indulge This Festive Season…
“The warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to our family and friends. Christmas only happens once a year and it’s a great time to make fabulous memories. Make your Christmas fun, no matter what your age is and indulge in your favorite foods without worrying about the calories,” says Divya Satyaraj, nutrition and diet consultant, who is currently working on her book on food and nutrition.
Divya Satyaraj’s specialty includes nutrition and diet therapies for patients with PCOS, diabetes, thyroid, weight loss, weight gain, gout, cholesterol and other conditions. Divya offers therapies for pregnant women and her clients include Ms. Chennai pageant winners, actors and sports personalities.
Here, she gives us some tips on how to indulge without going overboard this festive season.
Q: What are your suggestions for this holiday season’s meals?
You can have a heart-healthy Christmas and indulge in your favorite Christmas food too. And the secret lies in weeding out what your body doesn’t require. It’s just that simple. Here are a few tips for intelligent festive indulgence:
- Turkey: Turkey is a good source of protein and without the skin, is low in fat. It also provides vitamin B. The skin on a turkey is where most of the fat is. Remove the skin and enjoy your turkey.
- Roast potatoes: Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrate and are almost fat-free, before they are roasted in oil and fat. Baked potatoes are just as tasty but much better for you.
- Gravy: Gravy can be high in salt which may increase blood pressure. If you have gravy, try not to add too much salt to your meal.
- Sauce: Use semi-skimmed milk to make your sauce and add a clove or garlic to the milk to add flavor. Garlic helps in controlling your cholesterol.
- Do not smother your vegetable salad with butter.
Q: Christmas and New Year are occasions when one would like to revel in the festivities with a few drinks. How do you suggest one can do that?
Here are a few healthy ways to enjoy your drink
- Avoid fried snacks with alcohol. Indulge in grilled and tandoori snacks instead.
- Never drink on an empty stomach. Eat a small healthy snack before your first sip.
- Mix alcohol with water, ice or fruit juice; never mix alcohol wit soft drinks.
- Never let Christmas be an excuse to skip your workout. Exercise is non-negotiable. Exercise at least three times a week
- Foods to avoid: maida (refined flour) and soft drinks.
Q: This festive season what snacks can we give children?
Healthy snack options for kids would be desserts made from strawberries, blueberries, raisins, dates and apples.
Q: How can diabetics enjoy festive foods? Can they have every type of festive food?
Taking steps to prevent diabetes does not mean living in deprivation, it means eating a tasty, balanced diet that will boost your energy. You don’t have to give up sweets entirely or resign yourself to a lifetime of bland food. I believe food is medicine and food can heal, and I have always believed that a balanced diet is important to build a strong immune system for an active and stress-free life. Insulin resistance is caused by consuming too many unhealthy carbs, in addition to stress, obesity and inactivity. This condition can be addressed by eating small portions many times a day.
Q: What is your advice to diabetics on how to eat smart this festive season?
- When buying sweets choose from options that are made with natural sweeteners like dates.
- Have a glass of buttermilk with three amlas (gooseberries) and a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Amla is loaded with Vitamin c. Amla and fenugreek taken regularly can bring down sugar levels to a large extent.
- Have a glass of warm water with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar half an hour before lunch and dinner. Apple cider vinegar is loaded with vitamins and can control sugar.
- Have a glass of organic detox tea after every meal.
- Have a small glass of wheatgrass juice on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up.
- Do not skip exercise. Follow your regular exercise regime to stay healthy.
- Do not consume too many raisins if you suffer from diabetes as they raise sugar levels drastically.
- If you are a chocoholic, have dark chocolate instead of regular chocolate.
- Switch to brown rice instead of white rice.
- Chew on chia seeds or include them in your buttermilk. Chia seeds contain large amounts of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which help in giving strength and reducing risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
- A few spoons of bitter gourd soup every alternate day will help bring down your sugar levels.
- If you have a tulsi plant at home, drink a glass of tulsi water (boil the tulsi leaves in water) before you go to bed.
Q: What is the festive takeaway you would like to give our readers?
Don’t be super strict with your daily regime, relax and enjoy a few bites of everything you love.
As a therapist, I believe food can heal. I have always believed that a balanced diet is important to build a strong immune system for an active and stress-free life. Vitamin therapy has a distinct advantage over drug therapy. There is an elaborate healing mechanism within the body but it can perform its functions only when it is supplied with all the nutritional factors. I have never understood why people say, “I am on a diet this month, because I want to lose weight before New Year’s Eve.” It is not about ‘dieting for a month’, it’s a journey. We have to eat healthy all our life and when I say eat healthy, I don’t mean you starve yourself or stick to a boring diet. If one consistently eats right, weight loss and good health will be a byproduct of one’s lifestyle.