New Delhi [India], April 2 : Navratri or Navratra, the nine-day festival of the Goddess Durga is marked by a regimen of strict fasting or partial fasting.
Fasts are observed by not only those who have a religious belief attached to it but also by others for the scientific reasons behind it, such as detoxification, mindfulness and self-discipline.
While the rituals have religious reasons, it is recommended that one does it the healthy way, especially if we plan to fast.
Sandya Pandey, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Fortis Memorial Research Institute said there is flexibility in the number of days a devotee can fast, for instance, some people fast only for the first and the last day while some fast for all days.
Fasting detoxifies the body, provided one only eats fruits, vegetables, low fat yogurt, milk and unsweetened beverages.
Fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with various vitamins, minerals, phytonutrient and fibres. Here are some tips Sandya Pandey jotted down to follow the festival in a healthy way: - We should drink lots of liquids - It is advisable that we eat light food that is easily digestible - We must take care to eat in small portions - It is better to opt for water, herbal tea and coconut water - Deep breathing exercises can refresh the mind and give us energy It is good to add proteins to the navratra diet as most of the food allowed during the fasting ritual is high on carbs and low on proteins.
Adding low fat yogurt or milk, nuts and seeds is a good way to achieve the goal of eating varied, healthy food.
It is recommended that one avoids: - During the fast, all of us have a tendency to either be completely off food, or gorge on 'Navratra special" fried stuff and snacks.
Unknowingly, we consume double the number of calories than we would on a regular day. - Some people fast during these days to lose weight without understanding that the weight one loses by this method is not permanent.
Only water is lost in the process and not fat, so it is likely to come back once we go back to eating our regular food.
- It is advisable to avoid whole milk or condensed milk as it is loaded with saturated fats and calories.
Remember, not all kinds of milk are healthy. - It is also advisable to stay away from deep fried navratra snacks or carbohydrate-rich food such as potatoes, sago, buck wheat etc.
Fasting helps us in self-discipline. Most of our health problems these days are due to mindless eating. If done the right way, these fasting days can become a pleasant experience and a trigger point for eating healthy food mindfully through the year.