Navratri, appearing at the point of changing seasons, is a way to give our bodies a break and get ready for the next. Every Navratri we promise ourselves to use this time to better our health by using the fasting period to lose weight, and detox. Great! So, we eat well, avoid fried food, use less oil in our cooking and stay away from the sinful 'thalis'. Our home-cooked meals are healthier, but where we trip is on the snacking. During Navratri, the market is flooded with special namkeens; eateries roll out special menus, and a variety of snacks including chaat is made available. The demand from more discerning consumers who want to eat fewer calories to lose or maintain their weight has led manufactures to create products that can carry all the alluring keywords like "low-fat", "roasted", "healthy" and much more. But, are they really good for our health? Well, let's deconstruct.
Fatty Issues: A study conducted by the Cornell University showed that by putting a low-fat label on a snack, consumers actually consumed about 50% more! The assumption drawn was that ''low-fat' automatically translates into fewer calories. Low-fat versions of processed and packaged snacks should have lesser amounts of fat than their regular versions, which alone does not add to its health quotient. It is always good to read the nutrition lable to check fat percentage.
The boom in this demand for low-fat foods also brought us to the point of consuming more than necessary saturated fats. Therefore, the manufacturers replaced the animal origin saturated fats with vegetable oils, but they needed to change the form so hydrogenation was used to create solid and semi solid vegetable oils. This process led to the introduction of Trans Fats which are even worse. So, while picking up a "low fat" snack check to see the source of fat added.
Fats are an important part of a balanced diet and are known to be a concentrated source of energy. Both the quantity and quality of fats consumed can take it from healthy to unhealthy.
Sugary Tales: WHO has recommended that daily intake of added sugar should not be more than 6 teaspoons/day. Research indicates that excessive intake of sugar has serious detrimental effects on your health, and it's not just the calories that it adds.
In order to remove fat from snacks, manufacturers turned to sugar to enhance taste, flavour and texture of the food. The sugar content per serving may go from 2tsp to 6tsp. However, the full-fat versions of foods may contain lesser sugar than the low-fat versions. So, it is always recommended to check your food content and choose your low-fat food wisely.
- Serving Size: It is very important to understand the serving sizes mentioned on the labels of processed snacks. Be careful whether the numbers are for a portion size of 100gms, the whole pack or per serving (which may be more than 100gms).
- Nutritionists recommend that every snack must provide between 80-100 calories. You need to know the calories in the snack to be able to calculate its consumption.
- Lables on packaged snacks can be misleading too. For example; a low-fat label doesn't mean that it is calorie-free. These 3 points should help you move forward.
- Read the label carefully, understand and then choose.
Try not to eat straight from the bag; you will over eat this way.
- Divide the snack, especially the on-the-go ones, into smaller portions and carry only the amount you need for the day.
- Know your serving size, check the internet or learn from your nutritionist.
9 Healthy Snacks For Navratri 2018
- Snack with nuts like almonds and walnuts, an ounce a day adds calories, proteins, healthy fats, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. These are easy to carry along too.
- Flax, Sun flower and Chia seeds are excellent sources of healthy nutrients and prevent exhaustion and control hunger. Use up to 15gms/day
- Fresh seasonal fruits are low in calories, are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
- Homemade roasted amaranth and jaggery ladoos
- Homemade sweet potato and potato grilled wedges
- Baked plantain chips
- Homemade trail mix using dried fruits and nuts
- Roasted peanut- 28g. Alternatively, you could also enjoy baked chips with a dip of homemade peanut butter
- Home roasted makhanas. 30gm for one serving.