Diwali is finally here and it's time to catch up with family and friends. While the festive vibe is in the air, a lot of us have already indulged in all things decadent and sweet. Diwali celebrations and sweet treats are quite synonymous to each other, which often end up giving us a sugar overdose. Bingeing on the traditional delicacies of the festival may wreak havoc on your waistline as most of the Diwali delights are loaded with sugar and fat that only adds to the calorie load. However, you can steer clear of those extra calories by following few cooking and eating tips that won't make you go looking for a diet post the celebrations.
Here Are Few Diet And Cooking Hacks That May Help You Stave Off Excess Calories:
Ditch The Deep-Frying Method And Opt For Baking Instead
Snacks like mathis and samosas can be baked instead of frying, which would further cut out on a lot of extra calories. To reduce the calorie count further, you can skip the regular potato-based filling and stuff your samosas with veggies instead as they are rich in fibre content. Kebab, cutlet, tikka masala can all be baked with full seasoning and very less oil. Alternatively, you may also bring to your rescue the air-frying method that reduces the oil consumption to a considerable extent without compromising on the taste. Pakoras, fish, chicken; all of these can be cooked using this method.
Swap Butter For Healthy Oil Alternatives
Home cooking allows you to choose the amount and type of ingredients. For instance, if you are making butter chicken at home for Diwali party, replace the butter with some healthy oil and use it in moderation. You can also swap the heavy cream and use skimmed milk instead to get the same texture and taste.
Instead of snacking on deep-fried stuff, bring protein-rich snacks to your rescue as they may help you stay satiated for long. For dinner, you can choose vegetables of your choice and a small serving of carbs.
Avoid Intake Of Excess Sugary Sodas
Alcohol packs in a lot of calories and if you add a sugary soda or juice to your drink, the calorie load would only end up increasing. First of all, drink in moderation and have a glass of water or flavoured water between your drinks as it will prevent dehydration and help you avoid a hangover.
Make Judicious Choices
When you're at a Diwali party, walk around the table and see what is laid out from end-to-end. Avoid eating everything that's present on the buffet table and be judicious in your choices as it will help prevent calorie overload. Other than this, wait before you reach out for the second helping. It takes about ten minutes for your stomach to register what you have eaten; wait and then decide if you really need the second helping.
Start Out Full
Eat before you hit the party circuit. During the festive season you may have to head out every day or very often. Therefore, it is better to eat your meal before you leave and stick to munching small amount of non-fried snacks. You can munch on a snack, preferably a protein-rich one, before you leave so that you don't hit the party empty stomach. You can also consider a handful of nuts, an apple or cucumber, a tablespoon of peanut butter, or just one whole grain toast or roti.
Dance Till You Drop
Make the most of the festive season by dancing to your heart's content. Dancing is a form of exercise that may help you manage your weight by burning excess calories.
Stay focused for the rest of the day. Keep yourself hydrated and eat lots of vegetables and fruits. This will prevent exhaustion and keep you energised through the day.
Superfoods load a big punch of nutrition in a small crunch. Dietary substances that provide large proportions of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants etcetera are referred as 'superfoods'. They are a vital part of a truly balanced diet. Superfoods have gained quite a popularity in the recent days as the food trends evolve rapidly over the social media. They may perhaps not fulfil your gluttonous cravings, but they will definitely fulfil your body's nutritional requirements in a rather small quantity.
In addition to being a powerhouse of nutrients and providing all the essential ones, they have various other health benefits as well. Some superfoods have specialised benefits as well, such as tomatoes, which contain high amounts of potassium, fibre, and vitamin C. They also make your immune system stronger and resistant to countless other major and minor diseases.
As the term evolves and more and more people come to know about its benefits, the term 'superfoods' has been exploited so much by packed food manufacturers and global food brands alike. The food industry labels its regular products as 'superfoods' and charges an exuberant sum of money from its consumers. The labelling is not even supported by any scientific research or claims. The European Union has banned the term 'superfoods' in addition to other health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.
In order to counter this ban, giants in the food industry are spending thousands of dollars on academic research. This is being done in order to support the health claims mentioned on the packaging and make their product a 'superfood'. Some have even been successful in doing so. But the problem yet prevails as the researches are more than often conducted on concentrated extracts of food. Thus the claimed benefits may not be found in the natural state of foods.
But you need not spend an exuberant sum of money to include these so-called 'superfoods' in your diet. Instead, you can find them lying around your house. Broccoli, oats, cinnamon, turmeric, tomatoes are a few to mention. You can find these items for a rather cheap price in any supermarket.
Superfoods may appear to be a new concept as the trend evolves via social media. But if we contemplate our past, we'll realise that superfoods are around for a rather long time.
If you look back a couple of hundred years or so in the modern history when medicines, as we know them now, were yet a fantasy, you'll find mentions of these superfoods. If a person fell ill, he'd be medicated by a variety of herbs, roots and other parts of a plant. Examples of such superfoods with medicinal properties include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and almonds among countless others. These age-old medical herbs and vegetables evolved into what we refer as 'superfoods'.
The ancient Indians were aware of these superfoods long before the knowledge spread to the western world. The Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, had mentions of these superfoods. The Ayurvedic superfoods also form an important part of Indian festivals and festivities. Almonds, ghee, honey, saffron etcetera form a crucial part of the offerings offered to Gods and deities in the festivals all over the country. These Ayurvedic superfoods occupy an important part of the Indian taste palate. Here are few of the most important superfoods according to the Ayurveda.
1. Ginger: Ginger is a well-known ingredient that is found not only in a majority of Indian and western dishes alike, it's something that it is commonly available in our houses. It is known as the 'Healing Spice of Ayurveda'. Fresh ginger could provide relief from nausea and dried ginger is useful for joint pains.
2. Turmeric:Turmeric, the superfood that is gaining international popularity day-by-day, has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It may provide relief in symptoms of various skin conditions and could also regulate the blood sugar levels. It plays a vital role as a medicine in Ayurveda.
3. Ghee: Ghee or clarified butter, as it's commonly known, is a gem of Ayurveda. It is, in fact, healthier than butter or refined oil and is known to even control cholesterol, thanks to its content of omega-3 fatty acids. According to Ayurveda, it must be consumed daily in order to maintain a healthy eyesight and radiant skin.
4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon, the "super spice", was more expensive than gold in the ancient days. It improves digestion and blood circulation, removes toxins from the body, and was originally used in the effective treatment of respiratory and sinus congestion, bronchitis, colds, and the flu.
The Ayurveda is filled with an exuberant amount of such superfoods. Dates, almonds, honey, saffron, basmati rice are a few to mention. Ayurveda encouraged people to inculcate these superfoods in their daily and regular diet in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent falling sick.
In fact, our bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves, given that it is not lacking a healthy supply of essential nutrients. Superfoods, as mentioned before, are nutritionally very dense and are loaded with the nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy.
Nature itself wants to eat superfoods, thus it has blessed us with abundant of superfoods that can serve as our staple diet. Moreover, nature bestows upon us with the superfoods in specific conditions that are best for us in that particular weather, such as summer or winter, or geographical location such as the plains or the coasts. For example, root vegetables that are superfoods such as carrots, radish, turnips etcetera are abundant in nature. They have high mineral and nutrient content, which is essential in the winters since the nutritional requirement of the body increases in the winters. On the contrary, watermelon is a superfood that is abundant in summers. It has high water content, which is crucial for summers. It is low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C.
In fact, if you niche down the fruits, vegetables and other dietary substances that flower in a particular season, it is a superfood that nature itself is begging you to consume.
Yet, there are superfoods that must be consumed throughout the year to maintain a healthy body. Below are some superfoods that you can easily include in your daily diet.
Eggs: Eggs are superfoods that are available throughout the year and have high nutritional values. Moreover, they are very easy-to-cook. They are a powerhouse of potassium, folic acid and vitamins.
Broccoli: A handful of broccoli has way more calcium than a glass of milk. The superfood also has an abundant quantity of minerals and vitamins.
Oats: Oats are a rich source of fibre, magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. The fibre in oats may lower blood sugar level. It is a superfood with which you should start your day.
Salmon: Salmon is a healthy superfood that is packed with a great amount of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds: Almonds are one of the most nutritious and healthy nuts, with large amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron.
Millets: Millet is a gluten-free superfood with high amounts of vitamins. Various studies have proved that it may be even healthier than whole wheat.
As essential as it is to make superfoods an integral part of your diet, it's equally essential to stay away from artificial superfoods. Instead, try to consume those nutritionally rich foods that are abundant in nature.
"Take the bitter with the sweet" need not necessarily be a metaphoric piece of advice. Bitter foods are not just healthy but can be delicious too and it is just as well that they seem to be now trending the world over with the hipsters. In India, Ayurveda-based food traditions have always recognised bitter foods as part of a complete meal. Of the six tastes that this "science of food and medicine" ostensibly recognises, bitter is an important one - said to be "airy and light", especially benefitting people with dominant pitta and kapha, and lowering these "doshas". Bitter, however, is different from pungent foods, which are a class in themselves in Ayurveda and include the likes of chillies and mustard, both of which also have elements of bitterness.Since bitter foods are thought of as cleansing and important to boosting metabolism in many regional food traditions, they are mandatorily included in traditional meals. A fine example is Bengali food, perhaps the only cuisine in India eaten in courses. It is always the bitter - shukto - made up of ingredients such as bitter gourd or neem leaves that is served first as a palate cleanser of sorts and as a course to boost appetite.
In different parts of India similar preparations and traditions using bitter flavours abound. In fact, neem leaves with a little honey and black pepper mixed into them to cut the bitter and have a juxtaposition of different flavours are supposed to be the first thing you eat on new year day in many regional cultures. The symbolism is obvious-imbibing all the different flavours of life in the year to come. But it's also true that neem bitters are supposed to have a therapeutic effect in folk medicine and are hence eaten to ward off disease.
Bitter Gourd or Karela
One of my favourite vegetables is the bitter gourd - karela. One of the oldest "Indian" vegetables around (it is thought to have originated in the subcontinent), the bitter gourd belongs to the melon/cucumber family and is a typical summer vegetable in many parts of the country. In Kerala, it can be stir fried with the sweetish coconut to cut through the bitter, and be included as a side dish. But in UP and other parts of northern India, it is a delicacy in its own right.
Karela, with its skin scraped off and salt rubbed into it to leech out the bitterness, is stuffed with mince in many Mughalai-based traditions. The vegetarian equivalent of the Bharwan Karela, stuffed bitter gourd, in my Kayasth home has always been the gourd stuffed with browned onions. This is carefully spiced with fennel and amchoor, spices and flavours that tone down the bitterness (the sourness of the amchoordoes that and fennel has a faintly sweet aroma) but don't drown it. This is exactly the way so many Indian dishes are artfully constructed - with contrasting flavours that highlight one particular one in a delicate balance.
Bitter gourd, of course, is also thought to be medicinal. It is low in calories and good for weight loss, it has antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins like C and A. Folk medicines ascribe almost miraculous benefits to it - from anti-ageing to cure for cancer though none of this has been conclusively proven. Finally, there are also the anti-diabetic properties of Karela. A hypoglycemic agent called Charantin present in it is supposed to be able to regulate blood sugar levels and act as a substitute for insulin.
A host of other bitter foods like chocolate, leafy greens like nettle, turmeric and so on are all equally thought to be superfoods boosting our metabolism, preventing ageing, fighting infections and improving moods and vitality. Nettle soup, now being rediscovered as a lost recipe in many parts of the world, in fact is common in the Himalayan belt. Cuisine from Garhwal has it as a nutritious part of its repertoire.
Then there is fenugreek, used both as leaves and as dried seeds in many cooking traditions. As the name suggests, it came from Greece to the Subcontinent, where we found good and varied uses for it. Not only are methi greens a cheap and common source of nutrition in northern India in the winter months but the dried seeds - methi dana - is a favoured spice in many curries.
Sour and bitter as a flavour combination works in many Indian dishes. The typical old Delhi potato curry is an example, tangy with a hint of bitter that is imparted through the use of methi seeds. The use of this spice distinguishes the curry-scooped up with hot bedmi of old Delhi from its cousins in other parts of India, where the dominant spice may be different.
Many bitter foods such as these greens, cacao, and bitter melon contain sulfur, along with fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). All these are thought to benefit the liver and help in the production of bile, the enzyme that helps us digest food. It's just as well that modern food trends too are no longer shying away from the bitter.
Multiple studies have indicated a link between diet and nutrition and the mental health of a person. Now a new study has said that tweaking your diet even for a brief period can help relieve symptoms of depression. The study has indicated that a shift in dietary habits of young adults may be an effective strategy to alleviate symptoms of depression. Clinically, depression is defined as a disorder that is characterised by persistently low mood and a loss of interest in daily activities, which may or may not cause impairment in daily life. There is a lack of clarity as to whether depression is a result of poor dietary habits or that it drives a person to have a poor diet.
The results of the radomised controlled trial were published in a study report titled, "A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults" in the journal PLOS One. The study was aimed at determining whether or not young adults with depression could derive benefits of a shift in their diets for a period of three weeks. Additionally, they wanted to know whether the participants could stick to a dietary intervention for the prescribed period. The study was conducted with the participation of 76 young adults aged between 17 and 35. All the participants had between moderate to high levels of depression and all of them had diets rich in sugar, saturated fats and processed foods.
Also Read: 25 Signs of Depression in Teenagers: Don't Ignore The Problem
The participants were divided into two groups- "diet change" group and"regular diet" group. The participants were tested for levels of depression, mood and anxiety disorders as well as for logical and reasoning abilities at the beginning and end of the study. The people in the diet change group were encouraged to stick to a healthier diet by promising them a gift card. The people in the diet change group showed significant improvement in depression, anxiety and stress scores at the end of the three-week study. On the other hand, there was no difference in depression scores in the other group that stuck to their regular diet. The study was conducted by researchers at the Macquarie University in Australia.
When it comes to dietary sources of protein, there is always a lot of curiosity. This is because it's not just the supply of this essential macro-nutrient that matters for you, but the packaging or the nutritional profile of the source food also impacts your health. This is why red meats, despite being rich in protein, may not be considered good sources of protein, because they're also rich in saturated fat. Any good and healthy source of protein should not just have good amounts of it, but it should also have a wide range of healthy and beneficial nutrients. Additionally, healthy sources of protein must have low levels of cholesterol and saturated fats. This is why there has been a lot of talk about the need to switch from animal to plant-based sources of protein.
Fruits are rich in a rainbow of nutrients, right from all the essential vitamins that play a part in maintaining the health of various body functions, to energising natural sugars and satiating fibre. Fruits are not traditionally rich in protein and they're generally not expected to be- they have higher levels of other important nutrients including fibre and carbohydrates. But they still offer some amounts of protein and when paired with other healthier sources of lean proteins, may still be included in a healthy diet. However, you cannot rely on consumption of even these protein-rich fruits to fulfil your daily Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for protein.
Here are some protein-rich fruits for you to consider:
1. Raisins: This humble dried fruit is a fixture in all the festive offerings and is also added to a whole range of desserts. The golden raisins are nothing but de-hydrated or dried grapes. A 100 gram portion of raisins contains 3 grams of proteins, as per the data by United States Department of Agriculture.
2. Guava: This Vitamin C-rich fruit is savoured raw or in salads, and is even added to juices and drinks for a flavourful punch. Guava is rich in fibre as a 100 gram portion of the fruit contains 5 grams of it, according to USDA, and the same portion contains 2.6 grams of proteins.
3. Dates: This sugary sweet fruit has been consumed in Middle-eastern countries as a staple for centuries now. Pitted dates are stuffed with a variety of ingredients and are even consumed in the form of a sweetening paste for milkshakes and baked goods as well. A 100 gram portion of dates contains 2.45 grams of protein, along with 8 grams of fibre, as per data by the United States Department of Agriculture.
4. Prunes: Another dried fruit that is relatively rich in protein is the prune. These are made by de-hydrating ripened plums and it contains a wide-range of essential minerals and vitamins, along with some important macro-nutrients. This includes 2.18 grams of protein per 100 grams, along with 7 grams of dietary fibre.
You may consider adding these fruits to your diet, more for deriving other benefits from them, rather than looking at them as reliable sources of protein. Consult a certified dietitian or a nutritionist for a diet chart that helps you meet your dietary protein requirements.