Indulging The Right Way

This article is authored by Karishma Chawla. She is a practising nutritionist and a weight loss expert..

The most common challenge or question while following a diet plan is “Should you indulge while on a diet?” Well, I think the trick is to indulge smartly. The first rule is to stick to the 80-20% rule of eating wherein you eat right 80% of the time and 20% of the time, you can have some fun. The next step would be to have that 20% fun - mindfully without guilt.

Let’s look at some nutritious foods that you can try when you might slip from your diet regime.

Midnight Snacking - The most common hunger pangs happen at midnight, wherein people are always confused about what to eat and the usual picks are salted packaged snacks such as chips or popcorn. This can be replaced with nutritious snacks made of pulses such as kala chana salad, moong sprouts salad and peanut salad. Try to keep a bowl of sprouted beans such as moong or chana in your fridge to have as a midnight snack. Use Tata Sampann pulses and beans to ensure you get proper nutrition from your ingredients.

Mid-Meal Hunger Pangs - Mid fillers in the morning can be high fibre fruits such as apple, pear, orange, guava, papaya or 1 bowl of fruit salad with herbs and a pinch of rock salt. Mid-evening fillers can be salad such as pulse salad and healthy nuts such as almonds and walnuts

Unhealthy Snacks -Vegetable juices make an excellent energy drink that can be consumed at any time of the day as a replacement for unhealthy snacks. They also help in liver and gut detox enhancing health. A simple recipe can be spinach, celery, cucumber, lime and herbs.

Eating Out – Indulging in a meal at a restaurant is an integral part of our lives. For many of us, this often means that we have to take a break from our diets. Fact is, it doesn’t always have to mean that. Here are some guidelines and foods that you can try while eating out with considerably lesser adverse impact on your diet.

Eating out guidelines

  • Avoid fried items
  • Choose grilled or tandoori food items
  • Desserts: Try choosing the ones with healthier grain options rather than maida and natural sweeteners such as dried fruits, honey, jaggery, stevia over white sugar
  • Salads with dressing on the side. Ideally opt for olive oil, herbs, spices and lemon to make your own dressing
  • Choose whole-grain options such as whole wheat or dalia food options over refined flour options
  • Choose whole-wheat bread or multigrain bread for sandwiches with a good amount of fibre like cucumber, tomato, green leaves, chicken, fish or egg whites
  • Avoid heavy sauces and dressings
  • Replace sugar with honey, jaggery and stevia while having beverages
  • If you want to indulge in a simple carb like pasta, consume a bowl of salad 15 minutes before.

Whether it is Indian food or Italian food, making a few adjustments while ordering your food can make a massive difference. To help you order better, here is a list of cuisine specific guidelines.

Punjabi or Mughlai Food:

  • Opt for Tikkas – chicken or paneer
  • Choose sheekh kebabs, tandoori gobi, mushroom or platter of veggies.
  • Avoid white potatoes
  • Pick clear soups with no cornstarch, maida or cream to thicken
  • Go for whole wheat roti (tandoor roti) and green veggies as a single veggie dish like palak or methi. Avoid mixing veggies.
  • Have a salad platter with cucumber, tomato, carrot, onion with herbs, spices and lime

Chinese Food:

  • Pick clear veg or chicken soup. No cornstarch, corn, sauces or fried noodles
  • Pair a portion of steamed veggies with a small portion of desired food
  • When eating rice or noodles, choose plain ones without any sauces

Italian Food:

  • Opt for a salad with no dressing. Have vegetables tossed in one teaspoon of olive oil along with herbs and spices
  • If you are having pasta, have whole wheat pasta with olive oil, herbs and spices. Choose a tomato-based sauce over other sauces.

South Indian Food:

  • Choose idli with sambhar. Avoid coconut chutney
  • Opt for plain dosa without butter or oil with sambhar
  • Ragi dosa or idlis with sambhar are also a good option

To balance your diet, consume at least 3 servings a protein a day. This helps in indulging intuitively by balancing blood sugar levels and having a satiety value. Protein sources include pulses, eggs, chicken, fish, milk and milk products. Being mindful of what you eat and when you eat it is the key to indulging without adverse effects. Use these guidelines to enjoy your meals without worry.


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