Fasting or no fasting, the body requires regular detoxification. Navratri’s are a great time to seek divine blessings with complete detox along the way. ‘Tamas’ is one of the three “gunas” of the body- the other two beings ‘Sattva’ and ‘Rajas’. Food is one of the ways we can increase or decrease Tamas in the body. The optimization of gunas is required to achieve complete physical and mental balance – that essentially means to bring down the tamas.
Foods aggravating tamas:
- Primary elimination is of non-vegetarian food as due to it’s a complex constitution. It is difficult to digest and increases tamas in the body.
- Garlic and onion to increase tamas in the body.
- Even vegetables like brinjal, cauliflower, carrot are heat-producing vegetables and need to be eliminated from the diet during this time.
- The use of Singhara and/or Kuttu Atta during this time, instead of Wheat or besan helps to reduce the tamas from the body and cool it down, provided it is not deep-fried in the form of pooris or pakodas.
- Another way to reduce tamas from the body is by having small meals throughout the day, rather than two heavy meals.
- A lot of people just have one main meal throughout the day, but they load up their platter with deep-fried and salty food. This defeats the whole purpose of fasting and should be avoided.
- Salty food items should be avoided after sunset.
It is, not only a particular food item that’s detrimental to keeping tamas down in our body – but the method of preparation can also be the culprit!
A lot of traditional recipes for Navratri can be incorporated in our diet for the fasting period. These recipes are light on the stomach and ensure that the food is prepared most healthily. There are a lot of nourishing ways to snack during the day, without adding calories or feeling lethargic, especially during this period.
Some conventional meal ideas
- All the staples of Navratri like Singhara and Kuttu Atta, Saamakhiya Rice by themselves are very light grains and are easy to digest. But when we deep fry it, its nutritive value goes for a toss. So eating it as naturally as possible in the form of “Roti” is the best way to eat these grains.
- Even sendha namak used during fasts is a better choice than regular salt, which is high in sodium. So it’s a good idea to alternate the two
- Sabudana Cutlets can be either shallow fried or roasted. The addition of blanched vegetables can further enhance it’s nutritive value
- Use a various source of hydration- especially Coconut water during this time helps replenish the electrolytes lost during perspiration and keeps the body hydrated.
- Ground black pepper or cumin powder can be added to various seeds or nuts like dry roasted amaranth seeds, that can be eaten as a mid-day snack. There is no need to add salt to it, and hence, people with high blood pressure can choose this as a healthy snack.
- Arbi is another great vegetable that can be just boiled and eaten as a salad.
- Another hidden gem is the inclusion of Radish in our diet. Most people just eat Radish and discard the leaves. In fact, the leaves, besides bringing ‘green’ element to the menu also help in the digestion of Radish
- leaves of the Radish can be finely cut and mixed with salt, pepper, and other dry masalas to prepare a quick, raw salad which can be eaten along with kuttu roti for a nutritious meal.
These ideas are a much better option for snacking over deep-fried potato chips and other items present in the market.
Fasting is a time to control not only one’s hunger, at body level- but the mind too, at a subtler level. It is an exercise of the brain to control one’s urges and not eat harmful food. It increases the human ability not only to curb temptations but also brings peace to mind.