Through the nine days of the festival, it is important that you include foods that are nutritious and at the same time aligns with your fasting rituals.
The onset of spring and autumn is a result of climatic and solar influences.
These sacred phases are believed to be the most favourable time to worship Goddess Durga.
During Navratri, women in India wear nine different colours on each day and observe fast.
Significance of observing fast
Fasting has been a part of holistic religious practices since ancient times.
Sacrificing food during Navratri is an act of denial for materialistic needs to attain higher spiritual quests and receive the almighty’s blessing.
According to the spiritual leaders and holy books, fasting is the act of sanctification that establishes harmonious coordination between body, mind and soul.
Scientifically, during this change of season our immune system grows weaker and body becomes more vulnerable to toxins.
Hence, it is advised to detox our body with natural and high nutritive food like fruits, dairy products and dry fruits.
Although you're fasting, it is important to take care of the nutrients and fluid intakes to gain energy and stay healthy.
Here are the 10 healthy foods that not only go with your fasting rituals but also help to keep you and your family hale and hearty to enjoy the festival to the fullest.
1. Kuttu Atta (buckwheat flour)
Kuttu atta or buckwheat flour is packed with high fibre that helps in detoxification of body.
Also, these fibres help to keep hunger pangs at bay thereby, making us crave less while fasting.
It is also rich in proteins, B-complex vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese.
The essential fatty acids in buckwheat reduce the risk of diabetes by lowering glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and reduce hemorrhage caused by high blood pressure.
2. Sabudana (sago/tapioca pearls)
Sabudana is an excellent source of carbohydrates which boosts the much-needed energy during fasts.
It gives a cooling effect to the body and is easy to digest.
Though low in fat and low in protein, it can be used with other ingredients, such as milk and dals, for making kheer, payasam, gruel or vegetables and peanuts for making sabu dana khichdi.
3. Sama Chawal (barnyard millet)
It can be a perfect replacer for rice as it tastes almost similar to broken brown rice when cooked, so it is called sanwa rice.
It provides energy, contains a high amount of fibre, B-complex vitamins and important minerals like iron and magnesium.
It is also said to be rich in phytochemicals which help in lowering cholesterol.
4. Makhana (fox nuts)
Makhana is a very popular food during the fasting.
It is loaded with antioxidants and acts as an anti-ageing food by preventing white hair, wrinkles and premature ageing.
Its high-fibre content avoids constipation, helps the body to flush out the waste and prevents the accumulation of toxins.
These nuts are low in saturated fats as well as sodium but high in magnesium and potassium which help in controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, palpitation and insomnia.
It helps in relieving arthritis-numbness and joint pains.
Makhana strengthens the body, reduces burning sensation and quenches thirst.
5. Legumes and pulses
Pulses such as green gram, bengal gram, red gram dhal, green gram dal etc. are used to make sundals along with coconut during Navratri.
Pulses are excellent source of protein and fibre, as well as forms significant source of vitamins and minerals.
6. Dry fruits
Dry fruits are a good option to gain energy with very little.
Almonds, pistachio, cashew nuts and kishmish are eaten during fasts.
These dry fruits are most used to flavour desserts like halwas or payasams, preparing laddoos for Navratri.
7. Fruits and vegetables
A bowl of fresh fruits and boiled vegetables provides you with sumptuousness and yet abides your fasting regime.
Vegetables like bottle gourd, potato, pumpkin, colocasia, yam, sweet potato, cucumber, raw plantain, tomato, carrot, raw papaya and spinach are vegetables commonly consumed during Navratri.
8. Dairy products
Dairy products are considered to be holy for any auspicious occasion.
Hence, you can definitely consume natural products such as milk, curd, paneer, butter, ghee, khoya and condensed milk.
9. Herbs and spices
As we are not supposed to consume salt during Navratri, items like sendha namak (rock salt) peanuts, tamarind, cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon and green chilli can add flavour to your food.
10. Other foods
Foods like coconut, sugar, honey, jaggery, lemon, coriander leaves, curry leaves, ginger etc can also be consumed during Navratri/fasting season.
The author Megha More is co-founder TruWeight, an organisation that helps people lose weight in a healthy way.
Lead image used for representational purposes only. Credit: Devika/Creative commons