Navratri is an important festivals of Hindus, celebrated with lots of enthusiasm all across the country. Traditionally associated with Goddess Durga and worshipping her nine incarnations, the festival holds significance in north India, West Bengal, as well as the central and western regions of the country.
During this time some people fast for all nine days whereas some may just fast on the first and the last day. Most people avoid non-vegetarian food items, alcohol, onion and garlic in their food. Navratri is celebrated twice a year and each time it falls during the change of season. From an Ayurvedic perspective, eating foods like meat, onion, garlic, grains, alcohol, etc. attract and absorb negative energies and should be avoided during a seasonal change when our bodies tend to have low immunity and are more susceptible to fall sick.
Fasting is a good way to gain health benefits. It helps to cleanse and detoxify your body and giving rest to its vital systems. The benefits of fasting are purification of the gastro-intestinal tract, cleansing of the surrounding organs and balancing of the metabolic constituents. The gastric juices work to remove cholesterol from your system instead of digesting food during fasting. The rest to the intestines and related organs enable them to function better later.
The best way to fast is to be aware of your body metabolism and plan accordingly. You must also take into consideratin any health condition you may have and whether you want to lose weight or just cleansing the system. If you are suffering from diabetes, severe form of acidity, or reflux disease, avoid fasting. Fasting is avoidable for pregnant women and children too. People who are generally non-vegetarians but turn vegetarian only during Navratra are benefitted too as the toxins are flushed out by antioxidants in the gastro-intestinal tract.
One must be aware to not feast when fasting. Some people do tend to lose self control when eating the foods chosen for the fast. They overeat the fried potatoes, makhana kheer, sabudana khichdi, pakodas or simply overeat fruits and vegetables. Such oily and heavy foods defeat the very purpose of fasting. It essential to control your urge to eat and have a healthy Navratri fast so you can maximize the benefits of fasting. At the same time fasting is energy sapping and if prolonged can lead to weakness, acidity, anaemia, headaches and fatigue. So, guard against too much fasting. Keep your energy level up to enjoy the festivities of Navratri.
Tips for fasting
- If you are fasting to lose weight the you need to be very choosy with the food. Preparations of lauki, pumpkin, fruits such as apple, pear, cucumber, mashed potato, phul makhane (puffed lotus seed) are advisable. Drinking lemon juice in lukewarm water on an empty stomach in the morning is a must. Avoid heavy foods like paneer, sabudana and kuttu.
- Diabetics need to be aware of their condition and guard against the possible worsening of symptoms due to fasting. They should eat at regular intervals to avoid pushing blood sugar levels too high by eating after a prolonged break. Foods like lauki, pumpkin, berries, papaya and almonds are suitable.
- Take vegetables that are rich in Vitamins A, B and C. A vegetable juice or concoction with lauki (bottle gourd), tomatoes, apple and a sprinkling of ginger serves this purpose best.
- Eat a lot of fruits that flush the liver of cholesterol accumulation. Apple, orange, papaya, guava, pomegranate, lemon juice and pear especially help to bring down cholesterol.
- Lemon juice can be taken with lukewarm water in the morning for much better detoxification.
- Avoid full-cream milk or preparations of condensed milk as it can overload the system and can cause lethargy too.