Navratris mark the beginning of the festive season, especially in North India, where people start looking forward to the festive season of Durga Pooja, Diwali, and Dushehra as the auspicious days commence. Most people, who practice the Hindu religion, fast on some, or all 9 days of Navratri, and while it has its spiritual significance, fasting during the festival is also seen as a good way to lose weight and get in shape.
People tend to think they're hungry, when they are really just thirsty. The fasting rules of these 9 days allow people to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. This helps in detoxifying the system of toxins as well as building immunity. Fruits are also generally low in calories and high in fibre, which may help you lose weight- in addition to a well-balanced diet. In fact, eating fruit is linked to lower body weight and a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease.
Is fasting safe?
Fasting for a few days probably won't hurt most people who are healthy, provided they don't get dehydrated. But fasting for long periods of time is bad for you. You must understand the many different ways of fasting, and the foods you must eat even while you are fasting, to ensure that your body is not weak, and does not suffer from any short-term, or long-term deficiencies.
Variations in fasting regimes - Many people, many ways of fasting!
Fasting regimes vary, but the basic ones usually begin with a strict regimen allowing only water, juice or milk. Some allow solid food after a few hours, which are also mostly sweet, to ensure that blood sugar levels do not fall too low.
The duration of fast also varies from person to person. Some people practice a 'nirjala vrat' for 12 hours, 24 hours or maybe till the sets or they see the moon, depending on the rituals practised in their community, or religion. While these practices are done in the name of devotion, they can be unsafe, as not having food or water for longer durations can affect the body in many ways. The practice does not aid weight loss, but can in fact make the body weaker.
Fasting for a day or two, however, is unlikely to be dangerous for most healthy adults. However, people who are at high risk of health problems due to fasting, which includes pregnant women, lactating women, elderly and those with a chronic disease are advised against this type of fasting.
How fasting for long durations affects your health
Cutting of calories for longer duration may result in weight loss but it does have a negative impact on your health. It can cause health issues, muscle loss, dizziness, dehydration, and directly impact the kidneys, lower blood sugar levels, cause fatigue, weakness, and a weakened immune system.
Instead of long-term fasting or fasting without water or food, one can follow these quick tips to lose weight & improve immunity while fasting during the Navratri season.
What should we eat on these 9 days of Navratri
The 9 days choices can be made from foods not usually taken and this is a time for great experimentation. Various combinations of grains, veg protein and antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits can be included in addition to milk and its products. All these 9 days of including a wide variety and new different types of food are very beneficial for your health. You can try all these offbeat dishes at home & comfortably consume them, as they are easy on the tummy and deliciously different too.
Day 1 - The first day of Navratri, you can prepare dishes like kuttu ka chilla or uttapam, rajgira ka chilla or sabudana khichdi. This is a start to try new grains not usually consumed for the rest of the year.
Day 2- On the second day of Navratri, you can consume kuttu ka dosa or pumpkin and apple soup, potato chaat etc.
Day 3- The third day of Navratri is you can cook elaborate dishes like sabudana kheer or makhana kheer, sweet potato Kheer for the day.
Day 4- Fourth day of Navratri, devotees can consume kuttu ke atte ka malpua in the form of bhog. Ye can add on fruits on the side and nuts to make it healthier.
Day 5- The fifth-day food options include Palak Paneer Makhana vegetable (with rock salt), banana walnut lassi and kele ki sabzi.
Day 6- You can be a little more creative and make your own vrat-friendly Sabudana Kheer, Sago yoghurt with fruits, arbi kofta, fruit chaat etc.
Day 7- You can add jaggery to your vrat-friendly sabudana kheer, kuttu ki khichdi and even in juices. Savoury options include amaranth flour rolls stuffed with tofu or paneer and veggies-easily eaten during the busy festivities.
Day 8- You can make arbi Cutlet as a snack and wash it down with banana Walnut Lassi. Curd can be good addition on these days to ease digestion and improve gut immunity.
Day 9 - Dishes like Sabudana upma with assorted veggies and topped with boiled peanuts, boiled sprouts and chana. All of this can be taken with Rock salt nimbu paani and or cucumber chaas to cool the system.
Fasting completely for one or two days a week, known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, involves eating no food for 24 hours at a time. Many people fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. People on this diet plan can have water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks during the fasting period. However, use caution with this approach as blood pressure and blood sugar levels can dip for some people- so do check with a nutritionist how you can do this safely.
9 tips to help you fast safely
1.Eat small amounts of food on fasting days, at regular intervals.
2.Stay hydrated. Keep sipping on fluids throughout the day.
3.Go for walks, or meditate. You can also practice yoga and listen to some soothing music.
4.Do not break your fast with a big meal or feast.
5.Do not fast if you are unwell, or feeling uncomfortable.
6.Eat enough protein throughout the day.
7.Eat fibre-rich grains and fruits and vegetables for balance.
8.Ensure foods are prepared fresh daily and do not consume carryovers.
9.Remember if done right, fasting can help detoxify the system and cleanse the body of toxins.
Plan your Meals (Navratri diet)
A sudden change in your diet can have an impact on your body and mind, which makes it important to plan out your meals. Ensure that you eat a major meal before sunset which is made with alternate grains and minimum oil. Planning your meals and snacking healthy will maintain your energy levels and keep you healthy.
Get a Break from Sugar
We tend to eat extra sugar during Navratris. However, too much sugar can be harmful to your health. Refined sugar doesn’t have any nutritive value and is stored as empty calories. Navratri is the right time to take a break from refined sugar. Instead of refined sugar, add jaggery or honey to satisfy your cravings for sugar.
Last Few Words
Eating a balanced diet even during fasts can help in promoting digestion, improving energy and preventing diseases. You can enjoy a heavy lunch, but ensure that your dinner is light. Opt for healthy dinner alternatives such as milk or cold-pressed juices for the proper functioning of your digestive system.