Food for thought - before that Karva Chauth fast

Poonam Mehra, 27, will be observing her second Karva Chauth fast this year, but what is worrying her the most is battling hunger pangs and acidity. As her last year's experience taught her, the day-long fast can often bring on health problems, including nausea and low blood pressure.

Experts suggest taking precautions on the day when many married women in northern India keep a fast to pray for the long life of their husbands. It falls on Friday this year.

'Karva Chauth is a very demanding day for married women. Depriving your body of food and water for an entire day is very taxing on your body. This is where sensible eating comes into picture. Eat right so that so you don't feel sluggish or lazy throughout the day,' Mumbai-based clinical wellness specialist Namita Jain told IANS.

As per tradition, women eat their meals before sunrise and do not take a single morsel of food the entire day; they also avoid water. Their fast is broken only when they see the moon at dusk.

'I would suggest going for a light breakfast. Eat slowly and chew well. Try to eat fruits and unrefined cereals like multi-grain bread. If you try to overfeed yourself, you will feel sluggish,' she added.

According to Delhi-based nutritionist Kajal Gupta, one should also avoid eating sweets in the morning.

'In the morning, try to avoid very sugary foods. If it's a must, have only a bit to taste. The principle is that sweet foods tend to aggravate hunger later in the day; therefore, avoid those hunger pangs by avoiding too much sweet,' she said.

'Homemade paneer (cottage cheese) is a healthy option as it is high in protein and will therefore fill you up for longer. Also you can eat a handful of nuts as they will keep you satiated for longer,' she added.

Gupta says the best way to avoid hunger pangs is to keep yourself busy.

'The way to not think about food is to keep yourself occupied throughout the day. Keep yourself busy with friends and family, low energy work or household chores to keep your attention diverted from the fact that you are not eating.

'Try to go for a spa session or pamper yourself for the evening. It will surely keep you busy,' she added.

Fasting can also lead to acidity. Jain said when one is breaking the fast, the mantra should be to eat less than in the morning.

'Don't have tea immediately after breaking fast. It leads to acidity and may cause uneasiness and pain. Also try to stay away from oily food,' said Gupta.

'The stomach's acidity is high at this time due to lack of food and water all day. Instead, consume light food, high in good quality carbohydrates and protein to replenish the body's lost energy stores. Also, make sure to consume three-four glasses of liquids until you sleep to take care of any dehydration that has occurred in the course of the day,' she added.

Jain also suggests going for a stroll after dinner or sipping a glass of lemonade to aid digestion.

'The digestive process is slowest at night. So if you eat heavy food, it will again lead to a heavy feeling. So the best would be take a stroll and get ready and energetic for the next day,' she said.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)