BENGALURU: The festive season is in full swing with Dussehra right around the corner. The most popular rules of Navratri fasting are to avoid wheat, rice, onion, garlic, meat, refined foods, alcohol, etc. Switching to ‘vrat’ foods like amaranth seeds (rajgeera), buckwheat (kattu), health grains like millets, water chestnut (singhara), sago, foxnut and fruits helps to give your gut a break before winter begins. If you have planned to keep the fast, here are some tips for you to follow:
- During fasting hours, it is necessary to sip non-calorie fluids or water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Drink fruit-infused water with a pinch of rock salt.
- You can break your fast with fruits or dry fruit initially, which provides you with quick energy from carbs. Thereby cereal, vegetables, and lentil-based light meal with curd/ buttermilk/ yogurt can be consumed to prevent fatigue or muscle loss.
- Food preparation from sago (sabudana) which is rich in carbs but low in protein is ideal to choose post fasting with a combination of lentil/ dal, vegetable and oil, or buckwheat and millets can be preferred. These prevent a surge in blood sugar levels.
- Continue to involve yourself in light physical activity rather than heavy exercise.
- If you are elderly and on medication, then consult your doctor or nutritionist before practising fasting.
- Do not indulge in heavy meals on the day of the Dussehra celebration if you have been fasting for nine days. Start with short frequent meals to prevent bloating or indigestion.
- Try some healthy festive treats along with routine preparation to bring a balance.
- Avoid consuming excess caffeinated drinks such as coffee, fizzy drinks, tea, green tea, etc. Caffeine makes you more dehydrated.
- Fasting is not meant for pregnant women, children, and those who are breastfeeding.
- The author is a senior dietitian, Aster CMI Hospital.
Is fasting healthy?
The entire process behind fasting is that you are allowing the insulin levels to drop far enough and activate your body to use stored fat to burn off. Hence, fasting has benefits in treating obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neurological disorders.
But after the days of fasting, you may end up with severe bloating, nausea, overeating or an imbalance in the intake of adequate nutrients. So fasting can also carry negative implications on your health and wellbeing. Fasting may not be suitable for everyone, so check with your healthcare provider before you practise it.
Vrat foods to consider
Rajgeera (amaranth seeds)
A pseudo cereal and our Indian quinoa, gluten-free rich in fibre,carbs, protein and minerals.
Gluten-free grain known for antioxidants, fibre, vitamin B and essential amino acids.
Source of calcium, fibre, iron and protein
Carb-rich and a great source of energy
Singhara (water chestnut)
Contains 74 per cent water and is a good source of potassium and antioxidants
Safe for diabetics and weight watchers