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Stay healthy and enjoy your South Asian celebrations

A close-up front view of a cheerful happy grandmother sitting next to her grandson as they sit down for a family meal to celebrate Diwali as a family by having lots of tasty home-cooked traditional foods.

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Celebrations in South Asian cultures are a brilliant opportunity to get the family together, and food is often at the heart of such gatherings. How can you stay healthy while still enjoying yourself?

When you’re trying to eat better, you might find it challenging to juggle your new healthy changes with traditional celebrations that often feature a variety of rich, indulgent foods. But with a bit of planning, there’s no need to miss out. Here’s how you can stay healthy while enjoying your South Asian celebrations. 

Embrace the healthier options 

Not every type of food served at special occasions is going to be high in calories, fat, or sugar. Opt for healthier options like whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables as these will help to keep your blood sugars steady as well as helping to keep you fuller for longer. 

If you can’t go past sweets and fried treats, why not make some of your own and try replacing saturated fats like ghee and butter with unsaturated fats like olive, vegetable or sunflower oil.  

Keep an eye on your portion sizes 

It’s easy to get carried away when presented with lots of mouth-watering dishes, so be aware of your portions. Use smaller plates, sit down to eat, and take your time so you can fully register how much you’re eating. 

Eat mindfully 

Celebrations are special, and so are the foods that are served. Eating mindfully is a good idea for everyday eating anyway, but if it’s not something you’re eating every day, it’s all the more important to truly savour textures and flavour.  

Notice the smells and colours of the food, eat slowly, and give the food your full attention to make it a meal you’ll remember. Eating mindfully in this way also makes it less likely you’ll overeat as you’ll be fully in tune with your body’s hunger cues, so it’s a good approach to try. 

Plan ahead 

If you’re hosting loved ones, you’ve got full control over what you’ll be eating. Try giving traditional dishes healthier twists: grill, roast, steam or bake foods instead of frying to cut down on oil. 

If you’re attending a celebration where meals will be prepared by others, don’t be afraid of letting them know your dietary needs. Just do so in advance so they can have time to make allowances. If you’re thinking, there’s no way older family members will agree to making healthier meals just for you, you can always take your own dishes as a way of joining in with the festivities. Suggest that others do so too to make it a team effort. 

Don’t forget about physical activity 

Getting together with family for celebrations is the perfect opportunity to suggest you all go for a walk: it’s the perfect activity for chatting to each other while enjoying fresh air, and if you plan to go after you’ve eaten it’s a great way to shake off the lethargy that often comes after eating a big meal.  

Think about other ways you can incorporate activity into your celebrations. Is it the type of get together where there’s dancing? If it is, get stuck in! Moving your body is great for your wellbeing, but it also adds to the celebratory feeling. 

Celebrating cultural events while sticking to your new healthy habits can be easy and enjoyable with a bit of forward-thinking. Make thoughtful choices and keep your health in mind and you’ll soon be savouring the joy of celebrations. 


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