Dubai: Diwali, the festival of lights, is here and lest you are over-indulging yourself, physicians, nutritionists and physical trainers have a word of caution: Irregular hours and heavy eating can have a toll on your health, so go easy.
More cases of indigestion
Dr Anil Grover, Internal Medicine Specialist at Prime Hospital, said: “There is a kind of festival fatigue that sets in during the three months from November to January (in the wake of Diwali, Christmas and New Year celebrations). We find there are more cases of acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, vomiting and palpitation as people tend to party hard.”
"Prolonged consumption of high calorie food, sugary and other drinks, dehydration, sleep deprivation, skipping off exercises take a heavy toll on people. It is not just about weight gain, but a general deterioration in health."
According to him, there are two categories of patients: Those who already suffer co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension and suffer spikes in blood sugar and blood pressure. Others, who are on the borderline for comorbidities such as people who are pre-diabetic or on the threshold of hypertension who also find their existing conditions deteriorating. Even the younger generation suffers from several digestive problems such as water retention, fatigue and indigestion, he said.
“To avoid reversing health benefits that you may have accrued with a balanced lifestyle routine, during the festive season, it is important to be conscious of your health and protect it,” added Dr Grover.
Avoid festive abuse of your health
Deepshikha Agrawal, Nutritionist with the Cocoona Aesthetic Clinic, explained how binge-eating impacts the body. “The Indian diaspora in the UAE especially suffers a lot of health issues during this time as the Diwali festivities begin at least three weeks before the actual festival. Gatherings stretch into late nights. People party hop, eat a lot of high calorie, fried food and dessert."
They also get dehydrated, are sleep deprived and feel bloated. Overall, the cumulative impact of these indulgences spread over several days. But with a little bit of care and precaution, you can have your fun and be mindful of your health too.”
Physical training coach Jon Abe says during these days, many of his clients get irregular with their training routine. “When people are fatigued and dehydrated, their muscles cramp. Lack of proper sleep during the night slows down their metabolism and laziness sets in.
The regular and rigorous training schedule is disrupted. While I understand that festivals are important, a little precaution and alteration to the physical training can easily help people work out in 25 minutes with a high caloric burn out. That way, they can ensure their health does not go for a toss due to the festivities.”
Tips and tricks to keep healthy
• Make sure to have a lighter, low–calorie home meal before you leave for a party. That helps in avoiding binging.
• Hydration is very important. At home, during the day, have water infused with ginger, basil, cumin or fennel seeds. Having polyphenol-rich chamomile or green tea is strongly recommended. This will keep you light on the afternoon meal, high on hydration, boost metabolism and ensure your dose of anti-oxidants to heal the party stress that your body will undergo.
• Due to indigestion after late meals, many people who suffer acid reflux pop antacids. This slows down metabolism and disrupts the body’s natural digestion. Having water infused with fennel or cumin and including the Indian herb asafoetida (hing) in cooking one’s South Asian/ Indian/ Pakistani meal, helps aid digestion and works better than over-the-counter antacids.
• During the day, have a breakfast that includes almond milk or a sugar free smoothie with fresh fruits and veggies to offset the excesses of the evening
• Make sure that one meal, which his either your breakfast or lunch, is high in fibre.
• Make sure you get at least 45 minutes of deep sleep before getting ready for the evening. This will make up for the sleep deprivation later.
• At the party, start your evening with a drink of fresh lemon water. Completely cut out carbonated drinks.
• For starters, choose a grilled, oil free snack.
• For main course, choose a combination of protein and vegetable. So your dinner plate could include a generous portion of salad with a light vinaigrette dressing (avoid cheese, mayonnaise and so on). Those who relish non-vegetarian food should cut out on red meat such as beef or lamb and opt for a chicken or seafood dish.
• If you plan to have breads, choose a whole wheat bread instead of refined flour pasta or bread.
• While it may be difficult to have an early meal, try to have it latest by 10pm and then leave a 12-hour fasting window until 10am. This 12-hour intermittent fast will help restore your body’s natural metabolism and digestion to some extent.
A quick, high calorie work out
Coach Abe suggests a ‘Giant Set’ workout that can be done in 30 minutes in the comfort of one’s home for the party days.
“People must not miss their workout. If they are unable to come to the gym, this basic five-step Giant Step workout will ensure both cardio and strength training and burn nearly 600 calories in 30 minutes. It is advisable for those who are unable to haul themselves to the gym owing to late night parties.
The Giant Set Workout
• Start with normal push-ups on the floor. Do 12 repetitions.
• Use the resistance band, do lateral pulls with hands behind the shoulder and combine this with squats (about 20-25 of these)
• The Inchworm: Start with standing, touching toes and then walking your hand inch by inch on all fours. Walk your hands ahead and then trace back till you reach your toes, touch, stand with raised hands (about eight times).
• The hip bridge: Lie on your back, fold your legs in a bend and raise the hip like a bridge. Squeeze the hip muscles for three seconds, relax and repeat again (15 repetitions)
• Burpees with a difference: Get on all fours and raise the opposite leg and hand, touch your knee to the abdomen and relax. (Eight repetitions on either side)
• Planks: Do 30-second low raise planks.
(Once you have done this, take a 40-second break and repeat the whole workout. Do three of these giant sets).