Make moderation your mantra in a season that's synonymous with binge eating, says Geeta Padmanabhan

Is there a healthy Diwali? Depends on who is answering your question. Grandma and gym assistant aren't going to be on the same plate over this. Mmm…with all the binge-eating, will I look the same post-Diwali? Depends on how many of those ghee-infused diet killers you relished. Food and fitness don't make compatible bedfellows in the festive season. Stop to take a deep breath from that frenzied shopping and you'll see the conspiracy: the whole season is built to test your resistance quotient. It's sweet temptation, honey!

Look at the ground rules. You distribute sweets when the bonus is announced. You exchange Diwali greetings with, err, mithai. Diwali specials are as much about boxed sweets as they are about new gifts, clothing/accessory trends. Celebrations include pre-Diwali dinner, Diwali lunch and the party in the evening. Even before you've unpacked your zari-sequinned anarkali, your table is laden with silver-covered sweets. Nutritionists okay dried stuff, but you munch on with scant regard to conditions apply.

Yes, suggestions pop up on how celebrations can stay within the health rekha during festivals. Don't go shopping when hungry, helpful experts say. Have sweets and fried snacks in small numbers, make moderation your Diwali mantra. Savour mixture and maladdu over weeks, at leisure. Share, share, share! Sip water, feel full when you approach the goodies. Spoon in one piece at a time, chew well, eat slow. Push those gifted chocolates to the back of the fridge shelf, and taste them only when you rearrange. Avoid fizz drinks. Go on an Ayurvedic diet two weeks ahead to detoxify, so you're ready for those irresistible aromas.

Why not start with kitchen-prudence? Counterbalance home-cooking with social eating? We could roast, bake or grill what we serve, and put off fried stuff. Use low-fat ingredients such as low-fat milk and natural sweeteners like honey and dates to make sweets. We could distribute sweet boxes. Make a visit to the nearest orphanage for double blessing.

Let's change the composition of the gift hampers by adding diet bars and cartons of fruit juice. They are full and heavy only in the basket.

If that raises eye-brows, it also lowers calorie intake. When you are offered plates piled with enticement, smile sweetly and say you are fasting. You are, at the moment!

Happily, the market is now rich with sugar-free goodies. The delectable date+nuts laddoos are just one of them. Any number of shops in Chennai, B'lore and Mumbai have sugar-free on their inventory — check online. Buy, eat and gift them. Check out classes to make them. Just to be sure, get a dress that fits too well, specially around the tummy.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012