The festive season is upon us. After Rakshabandhan, Eid, Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi, the nation is gearing up for the Navratri celebrations which are all set to commence from 10th October 2018. The festival is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Navratri is celebrated in honour of Goddess Durga and her nine avatars. It is celebrated over a span of nine days. Navratri literally means 'nine nights'. For these nine auspicious days, Goddess Durga descends upon earth to be amid her beloved devotees. The devotees worship her for nine days; offer multiple flowers, fruits and prasad to seek her divine blessings. Some of them also observe the ritualistic Navratri fasts, where they refrain from consuming any non-vegetarian food, alcohol, grains and pulses. Sharad Navratri marks the end of monsoon and is observed during the lunar month of Ashvin. During this time of season change, our immunities are most vulnerable and one is more prone to encounter diseases. Bingeing on oily, sugary or very heavy food could further take its toll on our dipping immunity levels, which is why it is advisable to eat light and clean. Therefore, fasting becomes a good way to detox too. However, there are many dos and don'ts you must keep in mind during fasting to make sure your health is not compromised.
Here are 7 essential tips to fast the healthy way this Sharad Navratri 2018:
1. Stay hydrated: Since there are limitations on a lot of your usual solid food intake, it is important you ensure there is adequate inflow on nutrients. Hydrating and nourishing drinks like fresh coconut water, fresh fruit juices, buttermilk or a glass of shikanji could prove to be of immense help. Additionally, they would also add more variety to your menu. Avoid drinking too much tea or coffee as it may only leave you dehydrated and increase thirst.
2. Stay away from processed foods: Avoid chips, fries, and all other foods that are loaded with unhealthy fats or excess sodium. While potatoes are allowed to consume during Navratri 2018 fasts, most of these store-bought products are often fried in sub-standard oil. These foods can cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar after consumption, resulting in hunger and overeating.
3. Fill yourself up with fibre-rich foods: Include more fibre-rich foods to your Navratri menu. Leafy greens and vegetables like potato, arbi, sweet potato, raw banana, pumpkin and bottle gourd are full of satiating fibres. Fibre takes the longest to digest. It keeps you full for long and curbs cravings. Fibres also help ensure your blood sugars are stable.
4. Have a balanced diet: Fasting does not mean you would have to starve and deprive yourself of essential nutrients. It is very important to follow a balanced diet. While your options are limited, there are a lot of healthier options that you still haven't experimented with. Sabudana, kuttu, makhana, arbi, sweet potatoes, palak are all vrat staples that are loaded with essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
5. Give a break to sugar: Yes, there is no restriction on sugar. However, too much of anything can prove detrimental to your health. Refined sugar especially, is said to have no nutritive value and only gets stored in your system as empty calories. You can switch to jaggery or honey to satisfy your sweet cravings.
6. Consume seasonal fruits: Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables to get a smooth and steady supply of vitamins and minerals that'll help you keep energised throughout the day. You can munch on them through the day. Make sure they are seasonal and fresh.
7. Healthy snacking: It is a good idea to have small and frequent vrat meals through the day to keep your blood sugar controlled and your metabolism up. Vrat special namkeens are often loaded with too much of rock salt. Keep nuts handy. Small bites and snacks in between meals like a fruit chaat, baked sharkandi fries with sendha namak and black pepper or raw banana kebabs are some of the yummy options you can explore this fasting season.
Here's wishing you all a very happy Navratri 2018!
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