The Navratri season is almost approaching its end — but there are some eternal lessons to learn that can be practised, even during regular times. In the race to look a certain way, most of us have developed a negative relationship with food, and that’s where the problem lies. Even during the festive time, either people go on strict diets, or end up feasting on unhealthy foods like there’s no tomorrow. That’s where the problem lies — and striking a balance becomes imperative.
The key is to soak in the festivity, and enjoy foods that are ‘meant’ for these times. There’s a reason why our ancestors believed in wholesome meals, and that’s exactly what must be followed today. To help us understand this better, we have with us Jinal Shah, senior nutritionist with team Rujuta Diwekar, who has always propagated healthy eating practices.
In an exclusive chat with Health Shots, she helps us decode the role of various foods during Navratri, and also suggests a meal plan! So, move over those large, unhealthy thalis and follow this approach to truly experience joy and cheer, during this time!
Shah believes that the Navratri season, as it is meant to be, is the method of us understanding how to use food or anna as a learning tool
“It allows us to stay disciplined with food, and also helps us nurture the creative side of our physical body. In our culture, fasting is meant to teach us three things: devotion, discipline and diversity. Unfortunately, in today’s time, fasting is being used as a diet trend, instead of being used for its ability to teach us a lot about our foods and bodies. Our ancestors never fasted because they wanted to get thinner, or to get a certain type of skin and hair,” she shared with HealthShots.
This is the time when feasting on foods like kuttu, rajgira, sabudana, or samak ke chawal is a complete joy, because we hardly consume them throughout the year. Moreover, these foods contribute to the health and development of a woman’s body. Now, that’s a win-win!
“They help to improve hormonal balance, regulate your period cycle, overcome PMS or mood swings, and also improve fertility. This diversity is important, because it helps to improve the strength, diversity and integrity of the gut bacteria,” adds Shah.
It is important that we do not deprive ourselves from these Navratri-specific foods, because in the process, we will take away all the colour and joy. Shah believes we must follow the time-tested methods of eating even during festivals, so that it really allows us to lead a wholesome, fulfilling, and disease-free life.
“Just like other festivals, Dussehra is also linked to the crop cycle; this is when rice is harvested. We should also eat rice, even when we get back to our regular eating patterns after Navratris. It has all the nutrients that the body requires for optimum digestion, good sleep, and to keep away bloating. It also helps with fat loss, “says Shah.
Shah has helped us with a meal plan that includes special and diverse foods that are characteristic of the Navratri season. The menu includes fresh fruits, dry fruits, savouries like singhare ke pakore, sabudana khichdi, alu ki kheer, chana poori, lassi/dahi, shikanji, rajigira or kuttu ki roti, mordhan, shakarkandi ki chaat, and much more.
Here’s a look at the plan
Meal 1 (upon rising): Fresh fruit/ Handful of dry fruits like almonds, cashews, etc
Meal 2 (1 hour later): Singhare ke pakode/ sabudana khichdi/ sweet potato + dahi/alu ki kheer OR chana poori and sheera
Meal 3 (2-3 hours): Lassi/dahi/shikanji
Meal 4 (lunch): Rajgira ki roti or kuttu or singhara atta ki roti + Alu sabzi/ Makhane ki sabzi OR Kuttu ki kadhi + Mordhan (sama ke chaawal) OR upvasache thalipeeth
Meal 5 (2-3 hours later): Fresh fruit / fresh fruit milkshake/ shakarkandi ki chaat / Sabudana vada with dahi/sundal
Meal 6 (dinner): Mordhan pulao + dahi or raita/ paneer ki sabzi + kuttu or singhara or rajgira roti or banana ka atta
Meal 7 (2 hours later): Tawa paneer/ makhana/ milk
“These are such beautiful versions themselves, because we don’t do this during regular times. They are diverse, special and creative, and particularly good to taste. In fact, these festive foods are a way of bringing families together,” concludes Shah.