Navratri comes twice a year, both at the change of seasons. This is a way for us to rewire our systems for the next season - a way to detox our body as we give up whole grains and switch to gluten-free millets. Even our vegetables are restricted and our minds are in prayers and meditation. This total rest and rejuvenation process prepares our system to take on the next extreme weather. The nutritional quotient of grains commonly consumed during fasting is high. Quinoa, amaranth, kuttu, singhara, samak rice are all gluten free and are rich sources of important minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium. They are loaded with fibre and antioxidants, and contain more proteins than the regular grains. The vegetables allowed are low in calories but are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds, as we all are aware, bring proteins, healthy fats and phytonutrients to our plate. Milk and milk products are complete meals by themselves.
A version of this fast is called 'Phalahar vrat' (or falahar). People who follow this do not consume any cereal grain and their day's meals, which are generally made up of fruits, milk and milk products, and nuts and seeds. There is a section of people who add potato to their phalahar vrat meals; however, it is completely your choice. The vrat meals are sattvic with very minimal use of spices. Most use sendha namak or rock salt for cooking. Fruit juices, fresh chaas (butter milk) and coconut water are the main go-to drinks. Here we are going to talk about how to plan nutritionally adequate and healthy meals for phalahar (falahar) vrat to sustain our health.
Navratri 2020: Here Are Foods And Drinks You Can Add To Your Phalahar (Falahar) Navratri Vrat Meals (With Health Benefits Of Each Food):
Milk And Milk Products
- Milk and milk products form the cornerstone of phalahar meals. Dairy products provide vital nutrients to our body. Here are health benefits of having milk and milk products in phalahar Navratri fast:
- They are rich sources of important minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is involved in not just bone and teeth health but it is essential:
- For muscles to move
- For nerves to carry messages
- For assisting blood vessels to move the blood
- To prompt the release of hormones and enzyme that in turn affects a number of body functions.
- Phosphorus is also involved in the formation of bones and teeth; along with this it is essential for making proteins for growth and repair. It is a part of ATP - the molecule that stores energy and phosphorus also decides how our body uses the carbs and fat we consume.
- Dairy products are rich sources of quality proteins, which are an ingredient of every cell in our body. We need adequate proteins for staying alive and keeping our tissues and organs healthy. Milk proteins, casein and whey are considered functional foods as they have been found to prevent diet-related chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer and boost the immune system.
- Potassium is associated with lowering blood pressure and milk is a good source of this mineral.
- Milk provides carbohydrate energy and is a good choice for people following this fast plan to stay energised.
- Gut health: The benefits of probiotics for maintaining a healthy gut is well documented. Every time you consume dahi/yogurt, you add beneficial bacteria to your gut, ensuring better digestion and immunity.
Fruits are good sources of essential nutrients that our body needs to function. Consuming adequate fruits are positively linked to better health and protection against chronic diseases. Here are health benefits of having fruits in phalahar Navratri fast:
- Simple sugars in fruit provide instant energy but along with other nutrients, making them a perfect snack choice.
- Potassium in fruits helps regulate blood pressure and helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
- Vitamins like Vitamin C, folates and beta-carotenes found in fruits help build our immunity and also help maintain our health and wellbeing.
- Whole fruits add fibre, which are known to protect us against NCD's. Fibre is also important for preventing constipation and for maintaining the health of our gut.
- Fruits are low in calories and are rich in fibre, meaning you will be sated and will not binge.
Nuts And Seeds
- These little wonders of nature are a treasure trove of nourishment. Here are health benefits of having nuts and seeds in phalahar Navratri fast:
- Nuts and seeds are rich in protein, even a small amount gives satiety and a feeling of fullness.
- Healthy fats like Monounsaturated fats and omega -3, which protect us against heart diseases and diabetes. But they have a lot so should be consumed judiciously. They are low in sat fats too.
- They are cholesterol free!
- Rich sources of antioxidants phytochemical compounds. They add protection to our meals.
- Good sources of Vitamins like Vitamin E, folates, niacin and B6. They also contain immunity boosting minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium. Minerals like iron phosphorus and potassium are also available in nuts and seeds.
- Potatoes are one of the most loved foods we eat. Adding potatoes to your phalahar Navratri vrat meals is your choice. Here are health benefits of having potatoes in Navratri fast:
- They are rich sources of Vitamins like B6 and Vitamin C.
- They contain minerals like potassium, copper, manganese and phosphorus.
- When consumed with the skin intact, they add fibre.
- Last but not the least, they provide phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.
Here I have combined all these fabulous foods and put together a sample phalahari (falhari) Navratri vrat menu for you. Don't eat less than this; you can increase the quantities as per your needs. Diabetics and people on medication for any health problems should avoid this kind of fasting.
|Breakfast||MILK - 250ml||POTATO CHAAT: 100gm||GRILLED PANEER - 50g|
|BANANA: 1||ROASTED PEANUT: 50gm||APPLE - 1|
|COCONUT WATER||LASSI: 200ML||FRESH LEMON WATER|
|MID MORNING||ALOO CHAAT: 50gm||FRUIT - 200GM||FRUIT JUICE: 200ml|
|Lunch||HUNG DAHI 250ml||PANEER CUTLET -50g paneer||DAHI MINT RAITA: 250ml|
|TOMATO & DHANIA-100gm||CUCUMBER SALAD-100gm||POTATO TIKKI:100gm|
|Snack||ROASTED PEANUTS: 50g||FRUIT CHAAT: 200gm||NUTS& SEEDS:50gm|
|Dinner||POTATO & VEG CUTLET - 100gm||DAHI: 250gm||FRUIT SALAD - 200gm|
|MILK SHAKE: 250ml||GRILLED TOMATO - 100gm||Milk: 250ml|
|NUTS & SEEDS - 30gm|
|APPROXIMATE NUTRITIVE VALUE: Calories 1200 kcal /day, Proteins; 50gm|
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.