While festivals bring about celebration, they can also mean stress. A little care is all you need to ensure D-day remains fun day

A big festival is just around the corner. And, festivals always mean plenty of sweets, shopping, visiting friends and relatives, fun and plenty more. But it could also mean long days, lack of sleep, stress and unintentional binge-eating. Thankfully, these can be handled. Here are a few simple pointers to help you and your family stay on course.

Get the balance right: Taking care of your health doesn’t mean that you completely refrain from enjoying delicacies. “But take charge of yourself and your family’s good health. Do not go overboard,” says Priya Karkera, dietitian and clinical nutritionist based out of Mumbai. People who have diabetes, hypertension, and many such medical conditions should be aware of what is permissible. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth pounds of cure, Dr. Karkera says.

Keep random eating to a minimum and if you must have something, recall what you’ve eaten before and compensate for it when you sit down for your actual meal. Portion control is a very important factor during festive time. There’s going to be a lot of temptation around you. The best way to satisfy yourself without upsetting your weight is to take a very small portion of everything first. Take a second helping of only the stuff you like. This way you get to try everything and satisfy yourself without over-eating.

Eating slowly will ensure that you feel satisfied with the food that you’ve eaten. Keep in mind that your body takes 20 minutes to realise it is full. That means by the time your brain sends out signals that you’re full your stomach has already been full for sometime. To avoid the disappointment of missing out on delicious food, control what and how much you eat. It’s alright to taste, but refrain from taking generous quantities when you’re cooking. “Children adopt their parents’ food habits. So, think before going overboard with the mithai yourself,” says Rajesh Sharma, nutritionist and fitness professional in Mumbai.

Keep stress in check: Festival days might be hectic, but try and throw in as much exercise as possible. A simple way to do this is by offering to run errands and using the stairs instead of the elevator. A post-dinner walk with your family and friends is a fun way to add some activity to your day. “Some quick stress-relieving tactics will help you stay focussed,” says Sharma. Progressive muscle relaxation technique will help you lighten up and calm you down, he says.

Your back tends to take a toll due to all the activity and running around. Asanas such as bhujangasana or cobra pose is good to decompress your spine. Soak a towel in lukewarm water, squeeze out excess water and place it on your neck, forehead and lower back, for instant relaxation. If you do not have the time for an elaborate head massage, a mini scalp massage can work wonders.

Create a regular sleep schedule: Though it’s almost impossible to maintain a healthy sleep cycle in the hustle and bustle of celebrations, don’t allow it to go totally off-course. Returning to routine may become hard. Or even worse, your kids may pick up the pattern. Inadequate sleep is often linked to poor cognitive development. Your body needs at least six to eight hours of sleep. Plan family dinners well so that you don’t go on till late at night. “Dairy products are sleep-inducing. A glass of milk before bedtime is good; however, people with lactose intolerance should avoid taking milk before bedtime,” advises Sharma.

Handle your child’s stranger-syndrome: During festivals, kids come across too many new faces. “Temperament varies from child to child. A lot of children, when put in new surroundings, will be excited and curious. But a lot of them will also shy away and become scared,” says Shweta Kansara, counsellor and child psychologist in Mumbai. Letting him / her take time to gradually open up to people is the best approach. Often, when the parent knows that they will be going to a place with a lot of people where the child is likely to be overwhelmed, the parent should talk to the child in advance and prepare him / her for the scenario. Do not force the child to do something he / she is not comfortable with.

Maintain a festive journal — record all the fun activities you did with your kids and the family. It will be a keepsake, reminding you of the memorable time you had together.