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Keep the festival blues at bay

Many give their diet a go during the festive season, as they want to enjoy the food and drinks. With cakes, pastries, beverages and a combination of drinks, many people opt for indulgence with an aim to burn calories later. While enjoying the delicacies of the season, care must be taken to choose healthy food to avoid or aggravate illness at a later stage, explains senior consultant gastroenterologist.
— Dr Bhavani Raju.

During the festive season, a lot of cakes, sweets, beverages and high-fat food is consumed. How can the holiday season be celebrated in a healthy manner?
- Festive snacks are tasty and delicious and a lot of people are unable to resist them. During this time, many people binge eat, which leads to weight gain and obesity related issues. It is important to enjoy the festival with friends and relatives, but ensure that you consume foods which are rich in omega-3 fats and avoid harmful foods which are rich in saturated and trans fats.

What care should those who are suffering from diabetes take during this time?Extra care has to be taken by those who are suffering from diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. In diabetics, overeating can lead to loss of blood sugar control which means that they need to increase their anti-diabetic medicines. If the diabetic person begins to feel drowsy or is in comatose condition, then immediate hospitalisation is required. Similarly, those who are hypertensive must avoid papads, chutneys, salty snacks and other namkeens as they tend to increase the salt content in the body. Excessive snacking often escalates the disease and several patients come in with severe complaints during this season.

Festival outings are postponed by those who are suffering from lifestyle diseases as they fear that they will not be able to control their food cravings. What is the best way out?
- Allow yourself an occasional treat by indulging during the festival season. But don’t let it turn into an excuse to overeat or create an imbalance. A lot of people are unable to control their food habits and we advice them to eat a little healthy food at home before they step out. This way, even if it gets late, their ability to overindulge is restricted and they are able to control their instincts.

After the festive season, there are lots of complaints about acid reflux, indigestion and gas. What is the reason for this?
- Acid reflux occurs when the food comes back to the throat and food pipe region, leading to a burning sensation in the chest. The reasons for this problem are:

  • Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist.
  • Snacking close to bedtime.
  • Eating certain foods, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, spicy or fatty foods.
  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea.
  • Smoking.

Do’s

  • Limit your portions and choose wisely (after all, moderation is key). Also, cut back on other carbs during your meal to leave some room for dessert.
  • Reach out for nuts such as walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts, but avoid peanuts if you feel a snack attack coming your way.
  • Follow the routine of eating small and frequent meals to keep your blood sugar levels in control.
  • Drink plenty of water on the day of the festival to keep yourself well hydrated and energised.
  • Ensure that your exercise routine is maintained.

Don’ts

  • Don’t choose red meats. Opt for lean meats and fish instead, cooked with less oil and salt.
  • Don’t overeat desserts. While desserts are not off-limits for diabetics anymore, it’s best to save them for special occasions and not indulge all that often.
  • Don’t eat foods that are high in calories such as deep-fried samosas, papads and puri.
  • Don’t skip meals. Small meals at regular intervals are preferable, since erratic meal schedules results in erratic blood sugar levels.
  • Don’t eat foods that have a high glycemic index like flour, pasta, rice, potato or white bread. Choose fiber-rich oats and whole grains  to lower cholesterol levels.

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