This is an exciting time of the year where most of us are getting excited with buying the best candles, fireworks and preparing plenty of tasty delicious food. However, as with any festival, the temptation for our healthy habits to slide during this time, can be very alluring.

Here are some hints and tips for staying healthy during the festive period this year.

1. Start the day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast

A nutrition breakfast will fill you up so you are less likely to snack on unhealthy food during the morning. Diwali breakfast ideas include:

  • Dhokla with stir-fried vegetables (tomatoes/peppers/mushrooms/okra/onions stir-fried with spices.)
  • Idli sambar
  • Uttapam (lentil pancake)

Note: Traditional Diwali breakfast consists of jalebi which is high in sugar. However, we would encourage you to keep this to a minimum and enjoy mindfully as large portions can increase blood sugar levels and limit weight loss.

2. Stay hydrated

  • Aim for 1.5-2 litres of water a day (6-8 glasses) to ensure you are well hydrated.
  • Moderate your intake of sweet drinks (masala chai) and alcohol as these are generally high in sugar and provide no nutritional benefits. Soda/sparkling water flavoured with mint, lemon/lime or other fruit can be a healthy alternative.

Note: Remember, our bodies often misinterpret thirst for hunger. If you are feeling hungry, start with a large glass of water and re-assess your hunger levels in 20 minutes.

3. Choose nutritious snacks

Snacking is very common during Diwali, especially when we are celebrating with friends and family. If you are having guests over, try to offer a mix of healthier alternatives as well as more traditional foods. A few Second Nature recipes which you may enjoy might include:

  • Beetroot falafel with a yoghurt dip
  • Sweet corn fritters or black bean patties
  • Cheesy garlic mushrooms
  • Fattoush salad
  • Grilled wholemeal flatbread with hummus/creamy spinach dip

Understandably, it can be more difficult when are celebrating at homes where family/friends are providing meals.

  • If you are able to, speak to your family/friends beforehand about having some healthier choices available. You could also offer to bring a dish or two of your own.
  • If this is not possible, start your day with a balanced and filling meal before visiting family/friends. Be mindful about your food/drink choices throughout the day and try to fill at least 1/2 of your plate with vege/salad at each main meal.

Other things to consider when snacking are:

  • Being mindful of your hunger levels. Use the 'Hunger Scale' as a tool to determine if it is true hunger you are feeling
  • Consider re-gifting some of your boxed sweets to neighbours or take them into work for everyone to enjoy.

 

Thali recipe

A Thali is often a traditional part of Diwali celebrations, though often it can be high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Here are a few ideas to make this delicious meal more nutritious

  • Coconut dhal (Second Nature recipe)
  • Spicy okra stir fry with peppers, onions and tomatoes
  • 1 small brown chapatti/roti or serving of brown rice
  •  Greek Yogurt with mint/Raita
  • Onions in lemon juice or a side salad
  • Aubergine peas spinach curry
  • Methi curry or tomato curry
  • Serving of ladoo (see recipe below) or a portion of fresh fruit.

 

Healthy coconut ladoo recipe

 

Ingredients

150ml coconut milk

120g desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cardamom

Grated dark chocolate and coconut for dusting.

Method

1. On a low heat mix together the coconut milk and desiccated coconut until the mixture binds together.

2. Add in the cinnamon and cardamom and stir thoroughly.

3. If the mixture appears too wet, let it cool for a minute, Then add more shredded coconut 2 Tbsp at a time.

4. Let the mixture cool for 2 minutes. Shape into balls by picking up 1 to 2 Tbsp of the mixture, pressing and shaping with one hand.

5. Roll the ball in the remaining shredded coconut and dark chocolate mix and serve.

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Also, remember to keep active where you can. If you are not celebrating with fireworks at home, try to see if there is a local park putting on a display and get some steps in by walking there.

Enjoy your Diwali celebrations!

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