India is a land of tradition and various religious practices. Fasting is an integral part of our tradition. Fasting means holding one back voluntarily from eating certain or even any kind of food for a definite period of time. It can range from practicing a fast for a day, a week or for an entire month. Fasting for too long or not having the right food can have an adverse effect on health. It’s important to know how to eat healthy even while fasting to get the most out of it.

It's October and it's Navratri season. Like other festivals of India, Navaratri also has a significance and meaning attached to it. The nine day sadhana of Navaratri is not simply an age-old practice of worshipping the cosmic nature but also the rituals, practices and celebrations associated with it has the disciplines of health wisely interwoven into it. Every year the beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence as the whole of Creation goes through a kind of transformation with each changing season. These are called ritu sandhis meaning seasonal junctions(Transition from extreme seasons of summer and winter to more moderate seasons like spring and autumn). Due to the changes in the nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change. These two periods or junctions are taken as opportunities for detoxification of body, mind and soul which in turn helps to maintain our physical and mental balance.

While you are feasting on scrumptious dishes this Navratri, here are 5 quick Tips For Healthy Fasting -

1. Drink plenty of water during your fast to help your body stay hydrated and energized. If the fast demands elimination of foods and drinks completely, then have water in pre and post fast meals. Avoiding water intake for long hours can lead to dehydration.

2. Try to always have a pre-fast meal. It helps the body to sustain itself throughout the day without nourishment. It helps in giving strength and energy to the body. This does not mean that one should stuff one’s stomach with heavy foods before the fast. Choose light and healthy food items such as fruits, milk, nuts etc.

3. Avoid strenuous workouts during fasting. A brisk walk can be included but heavy workouts; long hours of running or swimming should be avoided. As the body is not getting usual portions of food while fasting as compared to normal days, activity patterns should also be reduced to avoid excessive weakness and fatigue.

4. Optimize your nutrition during fasting. Which means if you’re eating less, the nutritional quality of what you eat becomes that much important for the body. Do not include fried, high on sugar items like fried parathas loaded with ghee, pakoras, chips, khoya sweets, halwas etc. Instead go for non-fried stuffed rotis, baked and less oily vegetable preparations, fruits and light home-made milk preparations. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as colas, excessive coffee or tea as they act as diuretics and stimulate faster water loss through frequent urination.

5. Eat healthy when breaking the fast. Always start with a glass of water and some fruit. This won’t cause a sudden spike in the sugar levels post long hours of fasting and will have a revitalizing effect. Main meals should be wholesome and light. These should contain whole grains and less oily preparations. One should not gulp food post fast. Chew your meal properly in order to avoid over eating, gas, nausea and acidity.

Pregnant and lactating women, diabetics and people with chronic medical conditions should avoid practicing long hours of fasting as this can be harmful to their health and can lead to fatal consequences.

Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!