The year’s biggest, grandest festival doesn’t have to be a slimmer’s nightmare! With a few healthy tweaks, you can have your Deepavali goodies and keep your figure too

Dreading that Deepavali weight gain? Worrying about the added inches post-Deepavali can quite ruin your celebrations? These simple strategies will help to keep your weight under control, without spoiling all the fun of the festival of lights.

Start cutting back early: When do you start your Deepavali cleaning? Two weeks or a month earlier, right? Adopt the same tactic when it comes to controlling the number on the scales. Lunch on salad (hold the mayo) or clear soups and have lots of fresh fruit to reduce your daily calorie intake.

Avoid eating out when you’re looking forward to enjoying your fave sweets at Deepavali. Cut back about 200-500 calories a day for a week before Deepavali, so that when you do gorge on those 400 calories-a-pop sweets, your average calorie consumption for the month still evens out.

Cook smart: “You can make sweets without refined flour (maida) and sugar,” says Dr Anjali Mukherjee, M.D. (A.M) nutritionist, researcher, columnist, author, founder director of Anjali Mukerjee Health Total. “Take dates boil them and puree them to a paste. Then mix them with nuts or other dried fruits and spread them on a tray to set into date barfis or shape them into cylinders and cover them with poppy seeds to make date rolls. Dates are rich in iron, magnesium and calcium, and are really good for anemia. You could cover them with silver paper (vark) to make them look attractive. This way, you can have sweets that have zero fat, zero added sugar and no refined flour. Dried figs can be used in a similar way. They are exceptionally sweet, and can be mixed with saffron or cardamom. There is no need for sugar at all - they’re naturally sweet!”

Anjali also has some great pointers when it comes to savouries. “The simplest way to avoid weight gain is to avoid high-calorie foods. You can have tasty foods instead –it doesn’t necessarily have to be deep-fried. Offer dry fruits instead of sweets. Things like salted cashews or almonds are offered in every family at festival time. One could easily opt for these instead of fried foods,” she says.

On D-Day If you’ve been looking forward to those Deepavali goodies, don’t deprive yourself completely. Take a piece of a laddoo or half a karjikai (there will always be some grateful chica willing to go halvsies with you) at a time. That way, you can stop when you’ve had enough. Pay attention to what you’re eating rather than chowing down mindlessly.

Being ‘polite’ by taking everything offered when you visit someone is no excuse for over-eating, either. Take one piece each of the things you like - nobody really expects you eat everything!

On Deepavali day, eat steamed foods like idlis and sambar rather than ordering in that greasy biryani, and snack on dhoklas and momos instead of samosas and spring rolls.