What are your favourite Diwali indulgences?

The Christmas season is upon us, and in these happy times even the healthiest and strongest of us succumb to temptation. With all the special treats and delicious foods this season brings, it’s common to have a favorite indulgence. Nutritionists and fitness trainers say there’s nothing wrong with indulging in treats every once in a while because it leads to happiness and positive feelings. However, it shouldn’t be a license to eat just about anything at every meal.

“There’s no point in feeling guilty about eating something you like just because your diet or nutrition plan forbids it. Food is closely linked to emotions, and positive emotions are just as important to your health as exercise,” says Sandeep Sachdev, nutritionist and co-founder of Easy Human fitness studio and cafe in Mumbai. “Instead of beating yourself up for feeling good, just a little planning and not skipping your regular exercise routine will ensure you stay on track with your health and fitness goals.”

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Fitness writers at Living room has a healthy relationship with food and does not indulge in indulgences or turn to compensatory exercise. They just plan well and get in their regular workouts. In this story, Living room fitness writers share their favorite indulgences and how they strike a balance.

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Preeti Zachariah

Zacharias does not have a specific indulgence. “It’s actually a wide range. I love modaks and karanjis if my mom makes them. If they are around, I will definitely eat them. I love my mother’s homemade things. She also makes snacks like chakli (murukku), namkeen and sheera poori, which I like. I also love this special Mysore Pak-style sweet, which only Sri Krishna Sweets makes,” says Zachariah.

In the past, Zachariah used to feel guilty about eating these treats but now she doesn’t. “I find the guilt puts me in binge mode, which is much worse. When I indulge, I just move on and go back to normal eating habits the next day. Plus, I try to move almost every day, festival or not,” she says.

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Sohini Sen

Runner and Crossfit enthusiast Sen wonders what’s the point of festivals if you can’t even enjoy the food during these special occasions? She loves the festive specialty for any festival coming up, but also admits her whole life is full of cheat meals, including eating pieces of a Theobroma loaf for breakfast sometimes. “I used to love modaks for Ganesh Chaturthi when I lived in Mumbai. During Durga Pujas, I love to party luchi and manghso. And no Christmas is complete without rum-soaked fruitcakes,” says Sen.

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She never regrets eating these festive treats and there is definitely no guilt. “When I do eat, I make a mental note not to overdo it. And I usually work out in the mornings on the days I indulge if the cheat meal or indulgence is pre-planned. I tend to overeat if I keep myself hungry, so even though I know that I’m going to eat junk in the evening, I’d still eat a lunch that might be lighter than normal, but I wouldn’t skip it completely, she says.

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Pulasta Dhar

Football commentator and fitness writer Dhar is not waiting for the festivals to indulge him. He starts the day with a cookie. “My constant pleasure throughout the year is a carrot cake or a dense chocolate cake with my morning coffee. I eat some kind of creamless cake almost every day in the morning. I don’t eat sweets or mithai at all and as such have no love for specific party sweets,” says Dhar, who feels no guilt over the sweet start to the day as he earns his sugar. “Not only do I earn my sugar but I also know that my body needs anywhere between 15-20 grams of sugar a day.” Dhar does not turn to any additional guilt-relieving exercises to chalk off the morning cake. But he sticks to his exercise routine and works out at least four days a week. “It works for me.”

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Shrenik Avlani

As for me, I love street food pani puri, sev puri and Hello chat. But I travel a lot, so I don’t have access to them most of the year. When I travel, I dig fries, chips and local dive bars. These things bring me happiness and in current times that is a big deal. Sometimes I get upset about hangovers but never feel guilty about eating and drinking what I like. Another thing that makes me happy and I really enjoy is doing some kind of sport or exercise, which I do at least four to five times a week. I run and bike no matter what part of the world I’m in. When I’m on the road I also do Crossfit and try to go to a local gym when it’s affordable. Finally, I usually eat no more than three meals a day and do not snack or munch on anything in between.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Waya functional fitness book.

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