After a year when many of us had to forgo holiday gatherings altogether, we’re more excited than ever for Diwali in 2021. Also known as Deepavali, the five-day-long festival of lights marks the biggest holiday of the year for Hindus around the world. As families and friends get together to celebrate and feast on traditional Diwali foods and treats, it’s important to remember that these types of festivities can feel stressful for those of us who are committed to a journey toward health.
The good thing is, as long as you set some ground rules and listen to your body, you can fully revel in the season. Here are some tips for having a memorable, sparkly, and delicious Diwali without derailing the progress you’ve made all year long.
1. Prioritize sleep
Holidays are exciting and fun—and they often call for an exhausting amount of effort. Between decorating, food preparation, and a calendar packed with social events, it can all leave you feeling worn out and sleep-deprived. By making time for sleep, we give our bodies a fair chance to recover from partying in overdrive mode. Figure out what time you need to get to bed every night to get a full night’s rest (most adults need 7 to 9 hours), and set an intention to stick to it. If you need a little help with accountability, try setting a bedtime alarm to go off 15 to 20 minutes before you need to get into bed.
2. Opt for homemade sweets
No holiday soiree in India is complete without nevri, rasgulla, and other traditional sweets. Making your own Diwali treats at home is not just a smart strategy to control what goes into them. It’s also a beautiful way to pass on the traditional family recipes and bond with loved ones. After all, what’s more fun and festive than gathering in the kitchen to make desserts from scratch? (Check out the recipe for one of my favorites, Pot Kheer, below.)
3. Pause and listen to your body
These parties—and foods!—only come around once a year. So this is your time to indulge, but remember to tune in and follow your body’s cues. Say you attend a lavish lunchtime feast. Come dinnertime, you might feel less hungry than usual—go ahead and end your day with a lighter meal. Your body will thank you for listening!
4. Never skip meals
That said, don’t skip meals entirely. It might seem like a smart idea to “save up your appetite” (or calories) in anticipation of a celebratory meal. But going without food for a long stretch will only make you feel ravenous by the time you sit down to eat. That can lead to overfilling your plate and eating to the point of discomfort. Not so smart after all, right?
5. Repeat after me: no guilt, no shame
Diwali is all about spending time with your loved ones, making memories, and celebrating with foods that inspire warm, nostalgic feelings. This is the stuff that truly makes holidays meaningful. Go ahead and have a few extravagant meals. Then move on. Celebrating is a part of being human, and if your diet doesn’t allow you to be human, it's time to find another one!
Recipe: Instant Pot Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)
In the past, kheer had to cook for a couple of hours (or longer) on the stovetop. For this traditional Diwali favorite, the instant pot does most of the work. Total game-changer!
¼ cup short-grain rice
½ cup water
3 cups whole milk or full-fat coconut milk
½ cup sugar or sugar substitute
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of saffron
Crushed nuts (pistachios, almonds, or cashews)
Soak the rice in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
Press the sauté button on your instant pot and add ½ cup water to the pot. Once the water begins to boil, add the milk. Then add the rice and stir.
Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, and cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. When the pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally.
Press sauté. Add the sugar, cardamom, and saffron and stir until well combined. The kheer will thicken as it cools. If you prefer a thicker pudding, press sauté and stir until it reaches your desired consistency.
Serve hot, warm, cold, or at room temperature with nuts and/or raisins on top, or on the side.
Recipe from: My Heart Beets
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