Updated: Oct 10
With Navratri right around the corner, a lot of us will be observing a fast (vrat). This means that we’ll be adjusting our food choices according to the rules of Navratri fasting. If you’re on a health journey (or a diet), it can be hard to know what foods to eat to remain full and energetic. Our nutritionists have helped us put together this Navratri guide for you.
Before we get to the tips and recipes, let’s talk about what happens inside your body when you fast.
What happens to your body on a fast?
Our bodies are made up of cells. These cells need glucose (sugar) all the time to function properly. When we fast, our liver breaks down glycogen (a short term store of sugar) into glucose and releases it into our bloodstream to maintain a normal blood sugar level.
Still with us? Good. Now, when we consume foods high in sugar, our blood sugar level spikes. To lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, doctors advise avoiding these sugar spikes.
Does this mean that fasting is damaging to health? No. Fasting (when done in a healthy, sustainable way) has proven to have some benefits.
Benefits of fasting
Helps in regulating blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance (when done for a fixed period of time)
Might offer some protection against heart diseases by fighting inflammation
May improve memory and brain health
Controls, slows down ageing
May protect against depression
That being said, prolonged and unhealthy fasting has hazardous side-effects.
Side-effects of fasting
Prolonged fast may result in,
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Weakened immune system
Fatigue and dizziness
Low blood sugar
Constipation and dehydration
To avoid these side-effects and ensure that you come out of the Navratri in good health, follow these tips.
A Dietician’s 10 Tips for Navratri Fasting
Consume at least 3 litres of fluids on the days of the fast. You can drink water, buttermilk, tender coconut water, fresh juices, etc.
Avoid packaged juices, cold drinks and soda. They all have high amounts of added sugars.
Start the day with a natural liquid, followed by 12-15 nuts and a fruit. This will combat fatigue by providing energy, good fats and antioxidants.
Avoid deep fried, high starch meals such as potato chips, deep fried sabudana vada, etc.
Consume porridge or flatbread made with a mix of grains like sama millet, buckwheat atta (kuttu), amaranth (rajgira) flour. This will give you energy and nutrients.
For sweets, try to avoid sugar and jaggery if possible. Instead use dates, raisins, anjeer and apricots as natural sweeteners.
Consume curd and low-fat milk. They’ll provide you with protein and calcium. They also make you feel full because protein takes time to digest.
To prevent a sudden blood sugar spike at night, eat small snacks throughout the day rather than a big meal at night.
Steam, par-boil or stir frying your food and avoid deep frying.
Try to consume raw, unprocessed foods when possible
All this doesn’t mean that Navratri food can’t be delicious. Our guiding philosophy here at Sova is to strike a balance between taste and health.
We have sourced some delicious yet healthy recipes for you to try this while fasting this Navratri (or any other time)
Recipes for Navratri fasting
1. Rajgira (amaranth flour) Paratha
Rajgira is a good source of fibre and vitamins A, C, E and more. These soft, potato stuffed parathas are both healthy and tasty.
Get the recipe here.
2. Sabudana Khichdi
This probably requires no introduction. A staple during fasting in India, this dish is also filling and nutritious.
Find the recipe here
3. Low-fat Makhana Kheer
Makhana is another Navratri fasting staple and with good reason. This Navratri, try this low-fat version of makhana kheer.
Get the recipe here.
4. Kuttu Dosa
As we said before, avoid deep-fried food during Navratri. This kuttu dosa is a great alternative to deep fried kuttu pooris without compromising the taste.
Find the recipe here.
5. Sweet Potato Chaat
Quick, easy and packed with Vit A, sweet potatoes are a great snack for Navratri fasting. Because of their low glycemic index, they are a good choice for people with diabetes.
Get the recipe here
6. Millet Halwa
Millet (or sama ke chawal) is another good option for Navratri fasting. This halwa is an indulgent treat so remember to practice moderation.
Get the recipe here.
So as you can see, it IS possible to have healthy yet delicious food during Navratri fasting. As we often say here at Sova, eat mindfully, practice moderation and you will be fine.
Happy Navratri and happy fasting!
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