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The 5 Rules to Eating Healthy this Festive Season

With our population becoming increasingly susceptible to the risk of obesity and other lifestyle disorders, the search for optimum weight loss or weight change strategies seems to have garnered a lot of frenzy. One of the most vexing questions I get from my clients who strive to lose weight is – ‘what to eat and what not to eat during Diwali?’ People seem to be bothered more with ‘What all can I eat?’ instead of ‘How to eat right? Social media has only added to the confusion. With hundreds of thousands of influencers, each harping on what he or she eats this has become more cluttered than ever.

Below are 5 rules to keep in mind when it comes to eating out or during the festive season:

Rule #1 - Focus first on getting the basics in order

First and foremost is to have the basics in order and only then be what to eat at parties. But by basics I do not only mean your diet but essentially all the 3 pillars of fitness i.e. Eating Right, Exercise, and Sleep. Look, the unforeseen get-togethers, family dinners, family outings, events, functions, and friend meet-ups are inevitable, so it becomes all the more imperative to take control at least of the rest of your meals.

If you are on a strenuous weight-loss regime then you may want to cover 50% of your journey by getting your overall diet in order before hyperventilating on what to eat during these dinners.

If you are trying to gain weight then you may want to be really mindful of the calories you want to intake.

If you are just starting out on your fitness journey then you may want to get the foundation in order before applying your mind to ‘what to eat?’ as, in any case, whether you eat at a Diwali dinner or not... doesn't matter.

Rule #2 - Be smart when you eat out

Even if you are salivating over the sumptuous buffet laid out at your friend’s Diwali get-together, it still doesn’t tantamount to you mindlessly stuffing yourself. Don’t take the central region of your body for granted just because others around you are gorging. A mindless hogging on any meal can result in nullifying all your hard work.

Learn to be shaanaa (or smart) when it comes to eating out or eating at a party. Here are a few quick pointers –

  • If the Glycemic Index of the meal is high, then focus on reducing the Glycemic Load. In lay terms, if you are planning to eat junk then focus on controlling the portion size of your meal e.g. if you really have no other option but to eat a pizza it’s not carved-in-stone to eat the whole of it! Pick a slice or two and be content with that.

  • If there is a variety of junk to choose from then take your pick and stick to that. Usually, you will find people stuffing themselves with burgers, then pastas, then baked cheesy stuff, then curries, then biryani, and finally dessert. My advice to them is ‘Relax! take it easy as this is not the end of the world if you don't eat other stuff.’ Since the glycemic load of all is high pick your sin and then have that only.

  • What you eat should be strictly dependent upon how much you workout – a thumb rule I follow is that if you are a regular exercise-r and go hard on yourself during the workouts then it's imperative that your meal should be dependent on that. The harder you work out the more leeway you can give yourself, in terms of, the amount of calories you should intake in that meal.

Rule #3 – This can’t be an everyday affair... even if you are working out.

Sometimes when you travel to hill stations by road or go on a road trip you stumble upon places that you haven’t heard of or even seen on the internet, but find them so scenic and interesting that you feel compelled to make a minor stopover or take a minor detour to explore them. Consider these meals more like such inconspicuous places or minor stopovers or detours on your main fitness journey. Since they can’t obviously be your main journey you should see them merely as moments of deviation. Consider them as ‘once in a while’ moments and not ‘every now and then’ moments.

Since we are not conditioned to follow a diet pattern and we have the disposition to take such detours or deviations often these meals tend to become an ‘every now and then’ affair and we justify these uncontrollable deviations as ‘once in a while’ moments to ourselves. Think through!

Rule #4 – If you are at a party, then so be it, don’t stress later

Many a time I have come across people who, at a party, after they have had a meal start to take stress by constantly cribbing that ‘shit, I have eaten too much’ or worse ‘shit I have eaten too much, now I have gained weight’ This psyche tends to exacerbate matters even more.

The stress that you take, post your party meal, by way of guilt or regret, triggers the stress response mechanism in your body leading to the production of more cortisol. This increase of cortisol - the stress hormone - in the bloodstream causes hormonal imbalances, a reduction in the body’s ability for nutrient absorption from the food, digestive system imbalance, and let's face it, hampering the fat-burning processes in your body.

So, why take stress on something that is already in your gastrointestinal tract? Once you have eaten, so be it and enjoy that meal as no point in worsening the matter by feeling guilty later!

Rule #5 – Earn your junk meal

Let me get this point across through a parable.

Once upon a time, there lived a boy in a village. One day there was a running competition held in the village in which that boy participated. He won the race and the crowd cheered for him. He got so motivated that he wanted to run another race. A second one was held with some other challengers, and he won again and the crowd cheered more for him. The boy felt proud and felt important so he hungered for more races. Seeing this there was an old man, who stepped forward and presented two new challengers for the boy – one was a frail old lady and the other a blind man.

The boy said, “Is this a joke, what is this?”

The old man said “Race!”

So the boy ran and finished the race. When he turned back and looked at others, he saw that both hadn’t even started the race. He raised his hand and waved at the crowd to signal his victory, but this time the crowd was silent. No one cheered. The little boy was confused. He went to the old man and asked him “What happened? Why isn’t anyone cheering?”

The old man replied, “Race again but this time finish together.”

Confused the boy got ready to run again with the frail lady and blind man. When the race started, he took both of their hands in his and ran the race and finished together. Seeing this, the crowd went ballistic and cheered him unlike before.

He again walked up to the old man to enquire why what happened. The old man told him “Boy, in this race you have won much more than what you won in previous races because you earned people’s respect!”

In the same way, you need to see these festive meals as something that are earned by you and not see them as a prerogative or something that you need by default or desire. Usually, if I know that I have to eat out in the evening, I try to push myself more during my workouts that morning and be more disciplined in my baseline diet throughout the day. Similarly, see these ‘party’ meals as something you have strived really hard for. Once you view from this lens having these meals will be enjoyable because you will push yourself harder in your workouts and shall be a more gratifying experience in itself.

So, get going. A tad bit late for this post but happy festive season to you!






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