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Wellness consultant Naini Setalvad brightens your festive season with simple changes to your lifestyle and eating habits

Diwali brings with it immense joy and happiness. However, amid the air of festivities, we tend to binge on irresistible sweets and fried savouries and our joy soon turns into guilt. Silvers suffer most at such times—the bingeing turns into addition of calories, weight issues and, ultimately, health problems.

We all know that eating the wrong food is the root cause of our daily spiritual, mental and physical worries. Even ancient historical texts mention the gods consuming nourishing grains, scrumptious vegetables and delicious fruits as they believed in the power of nutritious, healthy foods. Unfortunately, today, we choose unhealthy foods such as white sugar, white refined flour, artificially coloured preservatives and chemical-laden foods over wholesome foods. We need to sit back and understand that it’s important to shield our bodies from the hidden effects of these ‘legalised illegal drugs’. Making the shift away from them will help boost immunity and protect us from diseases.

This Diwali, as we celebrate the victory of good over evil, let us usher in good health by eating right. So get rid of unhealthy food and add organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fats, spices and plenty of water to your daily diet. This will infuse your body with abundant energy and good health and strengthen your mind. Consider the following changes in your lifestyle and food habits.

Lower your sweet intake: No Diwali celebration is complete without sweets but pay attention when you gorge on them. Enjoy the pleasure of eating sweets with small bites that prevent you from reaching out for more. Also, opt for homemade sweets that are healthy, as you know exactly what ingredients they contain. If you must opt for outside sweets, choose ones made from natural sugars. High sugar consumption puts you at risk for liver disorders. Also, though sugar-laden items give you an instant boost of energy, your energy level will drop equally fast.

Consume less salt: Salty foods cause water retention and swelling in the body and increase your blood pressure. So go easy on such foods.

Control your portions: Remember the trick; a small plate means less food. When visiting your friends and family for Diwali, eat in smaller plates to control the quantity of food you eat. Avoid second helpings.

Stay hydrated: Overeating during festivals means not having enough water, which causes dehydration in the body. Remember to sip water throughout the day or sip on liquids such as coconut water, buttermilk or fruit juices to maintain your electrolyte balance. Stay away from alcohol and aerated drinks or mocktails that are high in sugar and also lead to dehydration.

Plan your day smartly: Plan your festival visits in such a way that you can have your major meals at home. If you have to eat lunch and dinner outside, choose your foods wisely. Avoid oily foods and gravies and switch to more vegetables, dals and salad-based meals.

Gift good health: Diwali is a time when we visit our near and dear ones with festive gifts. Instead of sweets, fried snacks and refined items available at stores, why not gift good health to your family and friends for the festive season? Dry fruits such as dates, figs, raisins and nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and pistachios or an assortment of seeds like flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds make ideal gifts.

Healthy festive foods


  • Handwa
  • Sweet potato chaat
  • Baked potato peas
  • Ameri khaman
  • Stuffed masala khichiya
  • Paniyaram
  • Sabudana khichri
  • Paanki/corn paanki
  • Stuffed paneer


  • Dahi aloo chaat
  • Fada ni khichri
  • Thalipeeth
  • Sautéed veggies with rice
  • Vegetable korma and tandoori roti
  • Tomato soup with bake au gratin and whole-wheat buns


  • Beetroot halwa
  • Fruit custard with stevia
  • Baked sandesh
  • Baked gulab jamun
  • Baked yoghurt
  • Sweet rice
  • Sheera (made with jaggery)
  • Steamed modak
  • Phirni
  • Fruit chaat

Easy festive recipes



  • Ripe banana: half
  • Apple (or orange): half
  • Strawberries: 4 to 5; chopped
  • Pineapple: 100 gm; chopped
  • Dates: 2; chopped
  • Raisins: 2 tbsp
  • Mint leaves: 4 to 5; chopped
  • Lemon juice to taste


Peel and dice the fruits into cubes. Mix all the fruits in a bowl, add dates, raisins and mint leaves. Squeeze lemon in it and toss well. Chill and serve. (Note: Mix lemon juice immediately after cutting the apples and bananas to prevent them from turning brown.)



For the khichu

  • Rice flour: 1 bowl
  • Water: 3 bowls
  • Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
  • Chilli paste: ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the stuffing

  • Coconut: 2 tbsp; grated
  • French beans: 2 tbsp; chopped
  • Carrots: 2 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Green peas: 1 tbsp
  • Green chilli paste: ¼ tsp
  • Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp; chopped
  • Dry mango powder: ¼ tsp
  • Salt to taste


Take water in a deep non-stick pan; add cumin seeds, green chilli paste and salt to it and boil on high flame for 2-3 minutes. Add rice flour and mix well, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon so no lumps get formed. Cover with a lid and allow it to cook on slow flame, stirring in between, for 5-7 more minutes or till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Divide the khichu into equal portions and make small balls of it. Boil the French beans, carrot and peas in another vessel till they become soft. Now, take a pan and add the boiled vegetables to it. Mix salt, green chilli paste, coriander, coconut and dry mango powder with it to prepare the stuffing.
Flatten the khichu balls, insert the vegetable stuffing in the centre and fold from all sides. Serve hot stuffed khichu with a mixture of red chilli powder and oil.



  • Sweet potato: 100 gm; boiled and cubed
  • Pomegranate seeds: ½ cup
  • Green chilli: half; finely chopped
  • Ginger: ¼ inch; finely chopped
  • Chaat masala: 1 tsp
  • Coriander leaves: ¼ cup; finely chopped
  • Lemon to taste
  • Rock salt to taste


Add the sweet potato cubes, pomegranate seeds, green chilli and ginger in a bowl and toss it well. Squeeze lemon juice on top, add chaat masala and salt, and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit for more details or write to if you have any queries for her

Photo: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
November 2018