It’s the festive time of year when many of us are busy preparing for Diwali. 

This year it will be very different as most likely, many of us won’t be having the larger parties, which we normally do because of the Covid-19 restrictions. 

We are limited by who we can see and also how many people can meet up.  These will vary, depending on where you are living.

For those of us living in the UK, as we are going to be in lockdown we won’t be able to meet family and friends in person, but am sure many of us will be connecting online.  In some countries, meeting indoors may not be allowed, so you may be planning to meet in a restaurant where there is outdoor seating. If you are eating outdoors, do dress warmly.  

Diwali is a time when many enjoy their treats and just let go of their healthier eating patterns.  However, if you do overindulge, you will find yourself feeling bloated, heavier and more lethargic soon after. 

To stay healthy, when still enjoying the festivities, I share below some practical tips that you can easily follow. 
It’s important during the coming weeks to keep track of what you are eating without having to count calories.  So, when you prepare your plate, keep an eye on what you putting in it and also what your portion sizes are. One easy way to make it a healthy meal is by simply just adding in some vegetables.  This is one food group that so many people overlook and it’s the one I emphasise on in my programs.  Make your vegetables any way that you enjoy eating them, also including them in curries.
Limit your snacks. Yes, I know there is that temptation to eat numerous snacks and often, it’s habitual, because it’s what we have always done at this time of the year.  The problem is that most of our traditional Indian sweet foods are high in sugar and fat.  And the savoury foods, tend to be fried and are therefore high in fat and also may be too salty.

Instead make some simple swaps, so you can try and stay healthy this Diwali. Instead of fried food like pakoras or samosas why not have healthier snacks that are steamed like dhokla.   You can also bake samosas and pakoras, and I agree, they don’t taste the same as the fried ones, but you won’t have that heavy feeling after.  When making pakoras don’t use only potatoes, use other vegetables such as carrots, corn, spinach and zucchini.
Also, you don’t need to avoid your favourite sweet treats but reduce the serving size. I too love my sweet treats such as ras malai, which I have occasionally, but only a small portion.  
Instead of using processed white sugar when making dessert use raw sugar or dried fruit, but do keep these to a minimum, using your taste buds to guide you on how much you need to sweeten the dish.  Dried fruit is high in sugar, did you know that one pitted medjool date has 16 grams of sugar, that is equivalent to about 4 teaspoons. (Source USDA Food content)
When preparing meals or desserts at home you can make them healthier by using less oil/ghee when cooking and it will still taste good. I find that since ghee solidifies in cooler climates, it is easy to use more than what was intended as can’t see how much is in a spoonful unless it’s been melted.
Don’t skip meals even if you have a big lunch or dinner planned, since this can result in you overeating when you have your next meal.  If you are starving, you will end up eating quickly and not making healthier choices.
Don’t eat too late at night and if you know it will be a late dinner why not eat a light healthy small meal before going out to dinner and have a small portion of the meal served later.
Keep drinking water through the night to hydrate you instead of having juices or soft drinks that are high in sugar. Coconut water is also a good option as lower in sugar and excellent source of electrolytes. Also track how much alcohol you are having.
When you give gifts to family/friends, instead of the traditional Indian sweets, which are very high in sugar and fat, give gifts of dried fruits and nuts. Since the Indian sweets which are milk based tend to expire quickly, one feels that they need to eat them soon so they don’t get wasted. Whereas, dried fruit and nuts have a longer shelf life and can be eaten over a period of time.

I will be sharing recipes for you to try, do make these as they are simple yet delicious recipes with ingredients available easily.

Pistachio date balls

The first recipe is for pistachio date balls and for the recipe CLICK HERE

Pistachio date balls take less than 20 minutes to make and use only 4 ingredients.  Try the recipe when you CLICK HERE

This article was written for iGlobal Wellness.