It’s the festive time of year when many of us are busy preparing for Diwali and have many dinner parties planned. This makes it very easy to let go of your healthy eating habits, as you are eating out frequently .  However, in a few weeks you may find that you’ve not only put on a few pounds, but are suffering from indigestion too. So if you want to stay healthy yet still enjoy the festivities I share below some practical tips that you can easily introduce. 
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 dinner 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.
Yes, I know when eating out that it’s so easy to be tempted by either sweet foods that are high in sugar and fat or savory foods that are fried and salty. But by making some simple swaps you can try and stay healthy this Diwali. Instead of fried food like pakoras or samosas why not have healthier snacks that are steamed or baked like dhokra. 
Also you don’t need to avoid your favorite sweet treats but reduce the serving size. I enjoy 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.  (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.  As you are starving you will end up eating quickly and not making healthier choices.
Don’t eat too late at night. I understand that meals at parties are served late, so if you know it will be a late dinner why not eat a light healthy small meal before going to the dinner party 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.
If you are looking for healthy recipes try making the energy balls instead of ladoos or the nut and seed bars instead of barfi.  If you aren’t celebrating Diwali, do still try the recipes:)

Nut & Seed Bar
(to have instead of barfi)

½ cup cashewnuts
½ cup almonds
½ cup dried fruits
1 ½ cup puffed rice
½ cup pumpkin/sunflower seeds
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup honey (or less if you don’t want it sweet)
½ cup almond or cashew nut butter
100 grams dark chocolate
Blend all the dry ingredients so there are no large pieces.  Start with the nuts, then add in the dried fruit and the seeds and coconut last.  In a pan heat the nut butter and honey until it melts and is a liquid.  Combine all the dry ingredients into this honey mixture until smooth and there are no lumps.  Line a baking tray with paper and spoon the mixture on.  Use a spatula to flatten so it’s all the same level.
Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl over some hot water.  Spoon this melted chocolate over the mixture and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  Cut into pieces and serve.  This should be stored in the refrigerator or the chocolate will melt.

Energy Balls
To have instead of ladoos
6 tbsp seeds (mix of flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
3 tbsp heaped cashewnut butter
1 tbsp coconut flakes
6 dried cranberries that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes
1 tbsp water
Cacao powder to dust the energy balls
Combine all the ingredients except the cacao powder in a blender.  Stop after 30 seconds to scrape down the mixture and pulse again until it is smooth.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water, taking care not to add too much water at the same time or it won’t bind into an energy ball.
Once well blended take some mixture, about 1 tbsp and roll into a ball using your hands.  Makes between 8 to 10 energy balls.

Roll the energy balls in the cacao powder to coat, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.