Welcome to the season of indulgence. Deepavali, more than other Indian festivals, is the time for some heavy indulgence – food wise. While the sheer variety of what is available to eat is staggering, often the problem is also about how much is consumed.

“Usually people eat more than they usually do, during festivals. Especially during Deepavali, where there are sweets of different kinds to sample and, a heavy menu of non-vegetarian food,” says S.M.Chandramohan, head, department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Madras Medical College.

“Wherever you go, sweets are thrust at you. Not everyone makes sweets at home, sometimes they even offer what has been bought in stores. Then, there is no telling what oil has been used, and whether the hygiene standards have been followed in mass production,” Dr. Chandramohan adds.

Non-vegetarians tend to eat a lot of meat on the day of Deepavali, including a lot of red meat — mutton. Meat in India, especially red meat, tends to be overcooked with spices and masala, all of which can cause gastritis and heart burn, in addition to being a source of high fat. The masala also aggravates the symptoms of ulcer.

“Overeating, combined with poor quality of food, can cause food poisoning with symptoms like indigestion, bloated feeling, vomiting, abdominal pain and loose motions,” he explains.

Parents have to be careful that children do not touch food immediately after playing with fire crackers. Even the wrappers contain traces of the gunpowder and can cause poisoning if the hands are not washed properly.

Diabetology clinics are flooded with people who have awry blood sugar levels on the morning after, V.Mohan, diabetologist, and chairman, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Speciality Centre, says. “Healthy sweet options, sugar-free, are now available. If you must eat, eat sugar-free sweets,” he adds. It is not wise for diabetics to miss medication.

A healthy trend that he has noticed this year is that boxes of nuts and dry fruits are increasingly taking the place of sweet boxes.

“Though high in calories, most nuts (almonds, walnuts, even ground nuts) are high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids that do not increase bad cholesterol.” He also suggests that fruit baskets be given as gifts during the festive season.

The message then, this Deepavali would be to eat in moderation, and indulge, but mildly. To do nothing at all would be quite criminal, for after all it is the festive season.