The auspicious 9-day festival of Navratri has begun. Navratri brings with it the time for both feasting and fasting! While most fast for religious reasons, many individuals fast during these days of the year to cut back on unwanted calories and detoxify their bodies.
Those who choose to fast on these days have to follow certain dietary precautions and also abstain from some food items. While there are no denying that fasting is healthy and is an ideal way to detox our body, it is, however, necessary to avoid going overboard and follow some rules. If you are observing fasts, here are some healthy fasting habits to adopt.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting in Navratri is an ideal way to attain your healthy weight goal. It also helps enhance digestion. While there are plenty of other advantages of fasting during Navratri, most of the people fast incorrectly that further disturbs the balance in their body.
Here are some tips you must follow for healthy fasting during Navratri:
The 9-day Plan
- During the first three days (1st day – day 3), follow a fruit diet. Eat fruits like banana, apple, sapodilla (chiku), watermelon, papaya and grapes. In addition, you can also have Lauki (bottle gourd) juice, Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice as well as tender coconut water.
- From day 4 to 6th day, you can have a traditional Navratri meal (explained below), once a day, along with milk, buttermilk and fruit juices for the rest of the day.
- During the last three days (7th day – day 9), you can follow the traditional Navratri diet.
In case you have any health condition, like diabetes, hypertension, etc., it would be best to consult a physician before fasting. Please remember not to overdo. Do only as much as you are comfortable with.
A Traditional Navratri Diet
An orthodox Navratri diet pacifies the digestive fire. It is a combination of the following food items:
- Milk, Buttermilk and Ghee (clarified butter) – These foods can give a cooling effect on our body
- Fruit salad made with apple, papaya and pear
- Shamak rice (Fasting rice), Kuttu (Buckwheat) roti, Dosa from shamak rice
- Yogurt combined with Kaddu (pumpkin) and Lauki (bottle gourd)
- Dishes made from Singhaada Atta (water chestnut flour), Sabudana (sago), Suran (Yam), Rajgira, Shaker Khand (boiled sweet potatoes), Arbi (Colocacia), etc.
- Lots of fluids, such as vegetable soups, juices, tender coconut water, etc. Apart from giving energy, they flush out the toxins released during fasting and prevent dehydration
While following a conventional Navratri diet, it is recommended to:
- Strictly abstain from non-vegetarian food and alcohol
- Avoid grains for first three days
- Stay away from any fried food, including onion and garlic
- Avoid heavy food and overeating
- Use rock salt for cooking instead of common salt
- Use healthy cooking procedures like boiling, steaming, grilling and roasting
Breaking the Fast
Start with a light meal when you break the fast in the evening or at night. Having a heavy meal after fasting is not advisable as it not only makes it difficult for our system to digest, but also undo the positive effects and cleansing process of fasting. Consume small quantities of food that can be digested easily.
Follow this diet plan to feel energetic throughout the day while fasting:
- Begin your day with two dates and a cup of green tea
- Breakfast: Eat raisins, fruits and nuts
- Around noon: Have kheer or milkshake or coconut water
- Lunch: Go for Rajgira roti or Sabudana khichdi with Arbi/Lauki sabzi and a glass of chhaas with rock salt
- Mid-afternoon: Opt for fruit yoghurt
- Evening: Have Aloo chat or Aloo Palak salad
- Dinner: Begin with vegetable soup then a bowl of salad with Rajgira roti or Kuttu ka atta and Sabzi followed by Carrot halwa and low-fat Lauki halwa
- Before sleeping: Consume a glass of skimmed milk
Some tips to help you fast it in the right way:
- Have small meals (less quantity) at regular intervals. This will keep your metabolism running.
- Stay Hydrated. Drink lots of water. You can also have coconut water, lemon water, or green tea.
- Avoid fried foods. Go for smoothies, yogurt or lassi instead. They not only keep you full, but also help in maintaining ideal levels of fluids in the body.
- Avoid Pakoras and fried Aloo-chat: Instead, try puri made from Kuttu atta or Kuttu ki roti – Kuttu or buckwheat has high levels of dietary fibre. Also, have boiled chat and yogurt, instead of fried Aloo-chat.
- Limit intake of potatoes: While potato is one of the main food item during Navratri, try to limit its consumption as much as possible. Or, make Muthias by mixing potatoes with lauki
- Have skimmed milk instead of whole milk. You can also choose to have double-toned milk
Last Few Words
Having a balanced diet even during fasts helps in enhancing digestion, improving energy and preventing diseases. While you may go for a heavy lunch, but make sure your dinner is light. Go for healthy dinner alternatives like milk or juices for proper functioning of the digestive system.
All the nine days of Navratri are considered to be auspicious. It is also said to be an opportunity to seek and surrender to God in prayer with purity. And, this purity should also be reflected in our food.