A nation known for its rich culture and heritage - India is indeed a nation of festivals. When it comes to witnessing the country at its festive best, one can look at a series of festivals celebrated from September to January with Eid, Rakshabandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam to Navratri, Dusshera, Diwali, Christmas and New Year. While each festival has its own popular food and sweets, unfortunately, these are laden with fat and sugar & hence when people indulge, they end up in a downward spiral affecting their health, fitness and immunity. For the ones who have diabetes, it becomes especially difficult to stay mindful and control food intake and prepare for separate meals while others relish their festive feasts.
Due to the current situation post the outbreak of the pandemic, immunity has become everyone's no. 1 priority too- making it really important to keep a check on what they eat during these festive times. The best way to secure health during these festive times is to be aware of your food, water and sleep schedules along with consuming immunity boosting superfoods that boost your immunity.
Here are a few tips you can follow to regulate your diet and strengthen immunity while savouring the festive merriment:
1. All fats are not bad:
While it is necessary to keep a tab on the overall fat intake from sources like cream, ghee, cheese and oil, one can improve immunity by consuming the good fats like virgin coconut oil a superfood known for important MCFAs like lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid along with monolaurin that functions as an anti-virus by killing virus post dissolving the protective lipids around it. This makes virgin coconut oil an excellent superfood that helps with immunity, fitness & overall health. It can also be used in cooking various sweets, baking vegan desserts or even as a part of a fresh salad, to cut through the acidity or in sautéing basic vegetables. It is recommended to consume 2 teaspoons of cold pressed virgin coconut oil every day, for a healthy and fuel-filled start to the day
2. Consume sweets that boost immunity:
Health experts or nutritionists often suggest healthy gift ideas instead of the traditional sweets. These sweets are made of nutrient rich ingredients like oats, jaggery, honey, anjeer, other nuts & seeds. These not only make perfect gifting ideas for the health-conscious people but also for someone who are vegan or have gluten, lactose intolerance. One can also go for traditionally recommended immunity boosters like gur, soonth, peanuts and honey in sweets that are healthy as well as tasty!
3. Consistency with routine is key:
Maintaining discipline is neccesarry for an individual and especially in effective diabetes management. Hence one should ensure sticking to routine while enjoying the celebrations.
4. Hydrate, sleep and eat well:
Absence of an adequate amount of fluid in your body can lead to dehydration which can in turn lead to a lot of problems. Keep yourself hydrated by having natural beverages like coconut water, milk, or just plain water. Apart from water, ensure a good night's sleep as sleep boosts immunity. Yes! Sleep boosts immunity - It has been observed that those who regularly slept less than six hours a night - are more likely to catch the infections compared with those who got more than seven hours of sleep. Stick to a regular bedtime, wake-up time and also avoid mobile/laptop screens and mid-night eating. Moreover, indulge in a healthy diet with adequate servings of green vegetables and include some good sources of lean proteins like milk, curd, egg whites, low fat paneer, sprouts for optimum nutrition and immunity boost.
5. Everything in balance:
- Avoid fried snacks, alcohol and carbonated beverages since they dramatically increase blood glucose levels.
- Remember the importance of balancing the festive eating out with adequate physical exercise because staying active helps boost your immunity as well as manage blood sugar levels.
- Do not miss exercise which tends to happen during festive times as preparing for festivals can get thoroughly tedious.
- If you have diabetes, maintain your meal timings, and take your medication regularly at the time prescribed by your doctor. Monitor your glucose levels more often to ensure that they are in the normal range.
- Do not skip meals or delay your lunch/dinner times as that can result in a low blood glucose episode. Always keep candy/glucose tablets handy. Do not consume fat laden sweets, chocolates, or ice-creams during a low blood glucose episode as the fat will delay the release of glucose and not allow the glucose to rise immediately.
- For people with diabetes, it is important to moderate your carb intake and choose healthy carbs over unhealthy carbs.
Festivals are celebrations that bring everyone closer. Ensure moderation in terms of food and sweets to make sure you stay healthy and fit while making sure you stay present for what festivals are actually meant for - endless laughter and memories!
Sheryl Salis is a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator
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