Amongst the colours, the music and the dance, this festive season is also the time for Upa-vas (connection to the Divine within). Our traditional wisdom incorporates those foods during this time - which help cleanse the body and help balance our hormones.
Today, many women are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations - which in turn affects their health physically (PCOS, painful cycles, PMS, obesity, etc) and mentally & emotionally (depression, anxiety, melancholy, anger, mood swings, etc).
WHY SHOULD ONE OBSERVE A FAST?
Our ancestors were indeed very wise! The 3 very impactful BENEFITS, I see in the traditional Navratra fast are -
i) The Sattvic food combined with fresh fruits and restricted food items along with prayers and the dance (physical activity) - lead to balance of mind and body (esp our hormones).
ii) The permitted foods are inclined towards increasing the alkalinity in the body. (We are now, talking about chronic inflammation and its impact on health - this diet for a short term definitely comes to our rescue)
iii) Navratri falls around the months of October-November (immediately post monsoons), this is a time of seasonal change, and most of us tend to fall prey and our immune system takes a hit. So when you make a switch to light Saatvik food it ensures that the digestive system is not overloaded.
This food being least processed & plant based, is the best bet for your immune system
Think about it - when we plan to get fit or want to feel better - we want to eat right, workout, get more active and also want to have peace of mind.
So reap the benefits this Navratra and you will notice your body lighter, energetic and efficient.
HOW DO I OBSERVE MY FAST?
- Fasting has to be undertaken with an enormous sense of responsibility.
- The children, the old and infirm, pregnant and nursing mothers should be extremely cautious when it comes to choosing to fast. Use your common sense - Health first!
- Foods must be light and easily digestible. It is advisable to consume simple carbs and easily digestible proteins like vegetable proteins, which are easy to break down by a slow-functioning metabolism. This will keep the mind light and easy and body more efficient
- Fruits, Dried fruits and nuts are extremely helpful.
- Juices that are fresh and sugar free along with plenty of water is extremely important to prevent dehydration and constipation.
WHAT CAN I CONSUME & HOW & WHEN & MOST IMPORTANTLY WHY?
What - Fresh Fruits
When - On Waking up or as an Evening Snack
Why - High in Antioxidants & High on Fibre - can keep you full & light at the same time. Loaded with micronutrients, this meal is a wonder
What - Dried Fruits & Nuts
When - On Waking up or at Bedtime with a Glass of milk (add a pinch of turmeric)
Why - Good source of good Fat, Protein and fibre - which helps you stay full longer time. Rich in Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids, vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E.
What - Milk & Milk Products
How - Curd, Milkshake, Paneer, Lassi, Buttermilk, or simply Milk
Curd or Raita - along with meals
Milkshake - as an evening snack
Paneer - preferably for dinner
Lassi or Buttermilk - as mid meal
Milk - at Bedtime - with dried fruits & pinch of turmeric
Why - Milk and dairy foods are healthy foods and considered nutrient-rich because they serve as good sources of calcium and vitamin D as well as protein and other essential nutrients. They provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B12, and riboflavin
What - Makhana (Fox Nuts)
How - As a snack, as a chaat
When - Evening or Late night
Why - High in Antioxidants. It's protein content is about 14.52%, which is quite high as compared to other grains. Makhanas are low in sodium content and high in potassium and magnesium, making them useful for people with high blood pressure. They also have a low glycemic index
What - Sabudana (Tapioca)
How & When - Khichdi as Breakfast or Lunch or Dinner, Wada as snack or even as Kheer as a snack
Why - Sabudana is rich in carbohydrates, protein and essential minerals. It is a good food option to feel fuller and satiated for a longer period of time. It is also rich in Calcium, Folic acid and B 12. If it is cooked properly it can aid digestion.
What - Kuttu (Buckwheat)
How & When - As a Roti or Kadhi for Lunch or Dinner
Why - High in antioxidants. It contains a rich quantity of protein which is loaded with amino acid and lysine. Kuttu ka atta contains 80% amount of carbohydrate and is really a good source of energy. It has a lot of minerals and vitamins in it like iron, zinc, niacin.
What - Rajgira (Amaranth)
How & When - As a Roti or Chilla
Why - It contains more than three times the average amount of calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and it is the only grain which contains Vitamin C. Rajgira also has far more lysine, an essential amino acid, which the body does not manufacture, compared to other grains. Lysine is needed to metabolise fatty acids, absorb calcium, and is essential for strong, thick hair. It has twice the amount of calcium as milk
What - Singhara (Water Chestnut Flour)
How & When - As Pakoras for breakfast or as Rotis for Lunch or Dinner
Why - It is high in potassium and low in sodium and hence reduces water retention. It is an excellent source of good carbohydrate and energy boosting nutrients like iron, calcium, zinc and phosphorous
And one last thing: While fasting is great, keep in mind that the way you break your fast and your meals in between are just as important. It's completely counterproductive—and even dangerous for insulin and blood sugar balance—to fast and then immediately binge on unhealthy foods. Try instead a meal with plenty of protein, fiber, vegetables, and healthy fats. Your body will thank you!