Dashain and diet

Dashain is all about puja, tika and celebrating with family and friends, and remains incomplete without good food and drinks. Therefore, it is difficult to avoid the string of health issues that are attached to it. It becomes even more necessary to take care of our health during this time so that unnecessary problems do not spoil the festive mood. This is even more pertinent for those who suffer from ailments such as diabetes, gastritis, uric acid and kidney problems.

The most common problem that people face during Dashain is indigestion and gastritis; people remain empty-stomach till the puja ends and then they take meals in large quantities, with the food usually spicy. “They skip almost two meals and join a huge feast at the end of the day; they take too much calories at once and it doesn’t burn,” says dietician Rashmi Bajimaya Shrestha. Moreover, these feasts normally comprise food with low water content, especially for the Newar community who usually have samaya baji (beaten rice, soyabean, meat, garlic etc), which causes dehydration and also gastritis.

Moreover, it is necessary to be careful about storing food. One must be careful of food poisoning caused by leftover spoiled food. The trend is to cook the entire feast at once, and with problems like power failure, people should take care in storing food, especially the meat. Dietician Shrestha suggests that it would be helpful for people to store meat in small packages rather than in bulk. “When you take the meat out of the freezer, you are introducing it to a warmer temperature suddenly, and then when you put it back again, the temperature drops. This irregularity may also cause contamination.”

Dashain, especially for the health-conscious, thus becomes a double-edged sword. While on one hand, people face indigestion and diarrhoea due to spicy or contaminated food, on the other, they may also suffer from constipation. Food rich in fibre—legumes, green salads, vegetables—are missing from the usual Dashain diet. This creates problems in digestion. Therefore, it is necessary to take special care in drinking sufficient amount of water and be careful about alcohol intake. “It is part of our culture to walk to Bhagwati temples during Dashain, and I would suggest people continue to go for morning walks to religious places—it helps them burn the high calories they gain from food and alcohol during the festival,” says Shrestha. She also stresses on munching as many green vegetables and fruits—apples, guavas or anything that is available in the market—as one can get during this time.

“People with diseases should be more careful and maintain a proper diet plan,” adds Shrestha, “I have seen patients die just a day before their dialysis simply because they chose to eat food which they weren’t supposed to in the name of merriment.” Celebrate Dashain with full enthusiasm, but be careful about what you are eating—do not allow health problems to dampen your festive spirit.

Watch what you eat

• Drink plenty of water.

• Take limited amounts of alcohol and red meat.

• Fresh fruits and vegetables help a lot in digestion.

• Try to avoid milk products; black tea is more

preferable than milk tea.

• Regular morning walks to nearby temples will help you to remain fit.

• Be careful about the storage of food. Try to

avoid food older than two days even if it is stored properly.

the kathmandu post 2010-10-11

source: http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/10/10/health-and-living/dashain-diet/213765/

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