Thursday, 13 June, 2024

Eat healthy, in moderation: Experts advise for Dashain


By Ajita Rijal

Kathmandu, Oct. 6: The biggest festival of Nepal, Bada Dashain has its set of socio-cultural and religious significance among the revelers in the society. Families and friends gather for the festival, seeking ways of merrymaking and resorting to a feast of delicacies, including the ubiquitous masu bhat, that is, the mutton and rice.
The entire Dashain looks to be a mixture of festivities, family get-together, fun and food. Besides the famous meat and rice, people make a choice from a wide variety of food, be it fish or plain vegetarian dish, making it difficult to guess what goes into their plates.
The food menus include many appetizing, mouth-watering, tongue-tickling cuisine and yummy vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, which make it hard for people to resist the temptation to add feast to fun, family and festivity.
This leads to obvious overeating and, as the fun fades, some people suffer from sheer indigestion and others find their existing health problems worsened.
Health experts suggest taking care while feasting at all times, let alone during the festivals, so that unnecessary problems do not spoil their health and festive celebration. They advise eating meat in moderation, without overindulging and importantly supplementing the diet with lots of green vegetables and fruits as part of one’s Dashain platter.
Changing the diet suddenly does have the negative implication on health of the individuals, especially of those who already have health issues such as cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and other non-communicable diseases.
Will the revelers listen? Giving a miss to one’s diet plan is found during the festive seasons. People have more choices in front of them, from the regular meat to extra sweets, cold drinks, other food items. Nevertheless, every family consumes a lot of meat during these festivals.
However, for all the fun, one should not forget ‘health is wealth’, so people must be conscious about their health especially even when enjoying the festivities.
Many people prefer red meat but white meat is less fatty and harmful, said Dr Aruna Uprety, a Public Health Specialist.
During this festival time, people consume lots of cold drinks. Overloaded with sugar, they are very bad for health.
“It’s a slow poison, it will eventually have a negative impact on your health,” warned Dr Upreti. “Instead of sugary drinks we should drink home-made drinks including lemonade, lassi, butter milk, hot lemon and lemon-mint.”
Eating junk food has always created several health problems among people. One needs to avoid junk food or deeply fried, spicy items.
For healthy eating during the Dashain, people should follow our traditional recipes, which the people need to re-learn and propagate among our generations, said Dr Uprety.
“We can replace rice with kodo (millet), buckwheat, jau (barley), til (sesame), aalas (flax seed), butter milk, lemon-mint with sugary drinks for being healthy and enjoying the festival,” added Dr. Uprety.
During the festivals most of the people, who are

vulnerable to diseases are found avoiding their daily diet plan for what they consider sumptuous foods.
''I do not tell about my dietary habit to relatives and friends,” said a diabetic patient, Surya Bahadur KC of Pokhara. “I feel like they would have extra burden to prepare my preferred food.”
To keep oneself fit during the Dashain festival, Praniti Singh, Clinical and Bariatric Nutritionist of Norvic International Hospital suggests that people should not overlook their dietary habit.
“Do not cheat yourself on meal, especially if you are following a dietary habit,” she added. “Once you cheat on your diet, you will keep on cheating, which leads you to suffer more.”
A suggestion DT. Singh makes: “Eat smaller meals frequently instead of eating a huge meal at one go.”
Giving preference to only meat and sugary items and salty junk food deteriorates our health slowly, DT Singh said, adding green leafy vegetables and salad would be best supplements.
The preference of taste buds leads to unhealthy eating, which must be controlled on individual efforts, said physicians.
Dr Chandra Mani Adhikari, Consultant Cardiologist at Sahid Gangalal National Heart Centre, said patients who have coronary heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity problems are more vulnerable as a result of unhealthy eating choices during the festival.
The meeting and gathering of family, relatives and friends prefers alcohol and sugary drinks which jeopardise the health of the individuals who already have health problems.
Earlier, doctors used to say, it was okay to have few pegs of alcohol and wine a day. But lately, various studies have shown that risk of coronary heart diseases is high among the alcoholics, said Dr Adhikari.
Dr. Uprety shared some health tips for this Dashain:
Eat healthy, home-made food; don’t jeopardise your health; use less spices and oil; avoid junk food; avoid cold drinks; minimise sweets, and avoid hard drinks.
If people follow these tips, they should now make this a habit, while visiting families and friends, they should state their food preferences for all times to remain healthy.