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Posted at: Apr 6, 2019, 8:50 AM; last updated: Apr 6, 2019, 8:50 AM (IST)

Fasting the right way

From ancient ayurveda to latest medical research, fasting is good for health

As the nine-day-long Navratras begin today, many people will be fasting for these days. The very word conjures up all kind of notions. But going by the usual practices we see around, most of these are practised the wrong way, taking away much of the benefits that fasting can actually provide.

Fasting dates back to centuries and is central to many cultures and religions. However, in recent years it has gained popularity across the world for reasons based on health rather than religion. From ancient ayurveda to latest medical research, fasting is good for health. Many medical studies have shown various health benefits of fasting. It promotes blood sugar control, improves blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, fights inflammation, boosts brain function and prevents neurodegenerative disorders. It can aid weight loss and boost metabolism.

Usually, when the season changes, our immunity is at the lowest. It makes sense, then, to give rest to the digestive system and eat light. As the foods we eat during Navratras do not include wheat, oats, etc., the consupmtion of gluten-free foods can boost the energy levels.

Fasting, if done right, can detoxify the body, say Dr Nilu Malhotra, a Chandigarh-based dietician. Most of the people fast during the day or just consume, milk, fruits, curd etc. After fasting for whole day, most of them splurge on fried foods like kuttu pooris or sabudana tikis in the evening. This leads to acidity in many persons. 

Choose it right

Fasting can be hard but it doesn't have to be. One has to just make the right kind of choices. Also most people only think of eating potatoes and kuttu or singhara flour during Navratras fasts. However, there is a vast variety of foods you can eat during these nine days. You can only be limited by your imagination. 

Sabudana, samak rice, sweet potato, pumpkin, most fruits, root vegetables, paneer, curd, lassi — the list is exhaustive. Begin your day with warm water and some dry fruits, including almonds and walnuts.

Food fest

For breakfast, have a banana shake or sabudana khichdi or peanut salad with lots of vegetables and raisins.

Make lunch your main meal of the day. Have kuttu or singhara rotis with curd or potato curry or steamed pumpkin vegtable. You can have a pulao of samak rice with lot of vegtables. Or you can have steamed samak rice with curd that has been tempered with curry leaves. 

Dinner should always be light. As fasting can make us lethargic, many people do not indulge in much physical activity. In such circumstances, a heavy evening meal can cause acidity and also negate the benefits of fasting.

Opt for grilled paneer, or cold cucumber soup or some milk and fruits for a good night’s sleep. Opt for small meals every three hours, advises Dr Malhotra. And have at least two litres of water or other liquids like cocunut water, lemon water, chhachh, etc., to avoid dehyderation. Eating wisely during these nine days can make fasting an enjoyble experience. 

Quick bites

Opt for the right kind of foods and liquids. 

  • Instead of having fried kutttu pooris, opt for stuffed kuttu or singhara atta rotis with cucumber raita.
  • Eating whole fruits is better than having juices, as the fibre in fruit will keep you feeling full for a longer period. 
  • Those who exercise, need not give up their workout. They can eat a banana or a bowl of sweet potatoes an hour before working out. 

— TNS

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