Top ten healthy ways to survive festival binging
Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Centre tells you how you can get past this festive season without binging.
Are there natural ways to beat festival binging? What of survival tips to emerge unscathed, if one does indulge occasionally? What choices may one make to eat fun, but eat fit?
How to beat weighing scale blues and avoid the bloat through this season, which apart from festivals and a New Year, also hosts the wedding season.
Here's taking a look at the top ten ways to stay fit despite the gustatory temptations that overwhelm this season.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Image: In the festive spirit don't forget to watch your weight
If you have overindulged, the ideal salvage operation should be powered by sipping lots of green tea. Green tea has several benefits.
It has high fibre content, which means it moves food down the gut fast. It is packed with anti-oxidants, unlike other beverages.
It also suppresses hunger pangs. Best of all, it spikes metabolism creating what is called a thermogenic condition.
This means the body is burning calories fast. It also has other health benefits such as improving circulation, powering the heart and its anti-oxidants are said to be good for your skin, keeping you looking younger.
Image: Green tea suppresses hunger pangs and boosts metabolism
Photographs: Theen Moy / Creative Commons
Festival seasons mean sumptuous and tempting meals, which often you cannot necessarily turn down! On the flipside the variety offers you tremendous scope for choosing healthy and yet tasty food.
Pick fruits over juices. Choose fibre (like salads) over starchy entree; soups over meals.
Even when finger foods come your way avoid the oil laden heavy-duty ones, which are usually fried and choose tandoori or grilled ones.
Image: Go for fresh fruits rather than canned juices
Photographs: Akhtar Sheikh/Rediff.com
More than just desserts
Avoid toppings over desserts. Choose yoghurt-based ice creams over fat, cream-based ones.
Even when you choose smoothies, avoid the nutty or chocolaty ones and chose low cal fruits like kiwi over grapes if they are on offer.
Most dry fruits are quite high on calories. Almonds are the least calorie-dense amongst nuts. And they give you the same, lovely crunchy texture you crave from other nuts.
Once you make a habit of such natural selection you will find that eating healthy does not have to be severe or ascetic. It just has to be a conscious decision.
Image: While picking a smoothie, make sure you don't pick that nutty or chocolaty one
Photographs: Dawn Huczek/Creative Commons
The worst thing you can do is to deny yourself, especially if you're watching your weight.
This creates an emotional cascade of denial, followed by resentment, then indulgence which is followed by guilt that will be further followed by indulgence.
It's the classic vicious cycle.
Most people find that complete denial leads to extreme binging.
To avoid these yo-yos, learn to reward yourself with smaller pieces of food you love.
You will feel satisfied enough and disciplined so as not to overindulge later. Also, smaller portion sizes really do give you the taste more precisely than large pieces, which are often gulped down before the taste buds get to them!
Image: Watch the size of the portion of food you are about to eat
Photographs: Alpha/Creative Commons
That is how restaurants that offer buffet meals ensure you do not overeat!
Choose smaller plates so after just a few items on it you will find that the plate is overflowing.
Since eating involves all our senses, slyly satisfying the eyes in this fashion will prevent you from reaching out for more.
They say the same for choice of cutlery too, but that may not be in your hand entirely if you are visiting a friend or at a restaurant.
However, if you can choose your spoons and forks, choose the smaller ones. You will scoop up less... especially the dessert!
Image: Hotels serving buffets usually have smaller plates. And it's a good thing too.
Photographs: Jimmy Duffy Caterers/Creative Commons
Time your meals right
Eating late at night causes the calories to pile on because the body does not get much time to digest all that.
Apart from gaining useless calories late-night binging also means suffering from digestive disorders with the food either staying in the gut for too long, putrefying and causing other issues like constipation or toxicity, which may sometimes show up as skin eruptions.
Even if parties extend late into night, you can avoid the heavy meals, instead opting for soups or salads, which move down the gut faster.
If you are disciplined enough, you can catch a small meal at your place before leaving for a party where you know the hostess always serves late.
This way you will avoid being ravenous. When you are ravenous, you will not have the patience to chose healthy or wisely!
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Image: Make sure you eat at right times.
Drink lot of water
Water is a great boon to control heavy eating or for recovering from binging.
Though, drinking water is avoidable before meals, if you are on a calorie-watching spree this season, then having even a glass before food will give you a deep sense of satiation, that will suppress hunger pangs and cravings.
Water is also not advised in yoga immediately after a meal to facilitate digestion.
However recovery from an indulgent meal is your intention you could drink lots of water to make the food move faster down the gut.
It has been found that drinking a lot of water does help with weight loss.
But watch it! Over normal limits is not advisable for those with low blood sugar or low blood pressure since it can cause water intoxication, which can be dangerous.
Image: Drinking lots of water helps you suppress your hunger pangs
Photographs: Joost Nelissen/Creative Commons
Fibre it is
Fibre-dense food does not have to be boring.
Salads, thin soups, brown or large grained rice and chapattis made from coarse atta that is crunchy and rich are great options.
Fibre is essential for keeping the colon clean. It also helps release calories more slowly, which means you do not suffer from constant hunger pangs.
It also helps with fat release, and the body needs to work harder with a fibre-dense food, meaning there is a natural metabolic spike, which is healthy.
Image: Go for fresh salads
Photographs: Freddy/Creative Commons
Serve rather than be served
Interestingly, those who serve or helping the hostess will eat less.
If you are trying to watch calories, help the hostess and look after the guests. That would keep you socially engaged and prevent you from eating which may happen, occasionally, out of sheer boredom!
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Image: When you're playing the host, you tend to eat less
Think and drink
Beer clearly has the worst offender label amongst drinks, as far as calories are concerned. But you must remember while drinking, calories add on from various other sources too -- juices in your cocktails, even soda or bottled drinks can pile it on without your realising it.
Danger also lurks in the finger food that almost always accompanies drinks.
Sodas, even those diet ones, add up. Fruit juices – despite the belief they are healthy -- can sabotage weight loss goals most.
Plus, because they cause a blood sugar spike can make you hungry faster than you realise.
They also affect your sleep. Even bottled limejuices are sugar-laced.
So having a quota of drinks for the special day and sipping each slowly will not only help you stay afloat sober, but also keep you healthy!
Image: Watch those drinks and the accompaniments
Photographs: Supafly/Creative commons