It’s that time of the year again! The leaves have fallen, as has the temperature. Children are finally on the much-awaited two-week winter break from school. Guests have been coming from abroad in droves as seemingly everyone on Pakistani soil has decided to get married this year. There is a general air of festivity across the country and with that comes a whole lot of fatty foods. The extra calories are lurking around every corner, from hot drinks, chocolates, Christmas cookies, spicy biryani and all that oily wedding food that makes Pakistani cuisine so tempting!
Considering this, it is hardly surprising that an average Pakistani can gain up to a kilo or two during winter holidays. Even if one possesses superhuman willpower, the holiday and wedding season can make it very difficult to keep track of your diet. The worst part is that the excess pounds don’t really disappear with the season. But do you really want to commence the new year with a pot-belly? No? We thought so! To keep the flab at bay, we have brought you some ingenious ways to stay fit throughout the season. Read on and be on your way to festive and fit.
Regardless of where and how you’re spending your winter, always try to pick protein when it comes to food. Proteins help maintain a healthy weight and are also extremely essential for healthy muscle growth. They are also ideal to keep one warm during the cold winter days. So you can relish those roof-top barbeques to your heart’s desire, so long as you keep away from the garam garam naan.
Fill up on fibre
When it comes to eating during the holiday season, you can expect loads of tempting, oil-rich items and while there is no harm in indulging every now and then, the temptations can get out of hand. The best way to prevent that is by filling up on fibres before indulging so that your stomach feels full already and you don’t go overboard. Agreed, it may not be as tasty as the other mouthwatering items on the menu but food high in fibre keeps one fuller for longer. So why not give the salad bar a second chance?
Outsmart the buffet
Pakistani weddings are known across the world for enticing buffets that could make even the most determined of us question their will power. So if the dinner is being served buffet style, try to outsmart it by first picking a small plate and opting for the simpler items of the menu. Try to pick baked items instead of fried ones so you consume more protein and fibre.
Moderation is key
The best way to maintain your weight during this time is to take moderate meals. Mehak Taherani, a fitness expert from Karachi, stresses on the fact that moderation is the key and sometimes it is much needed to take time off. “A recent trip I made to London was a partial time off from my diet, where I skipped on my regular workouts and ate up to 2000 calories a day,” shares Mehak. “Yet, I tried to keep myself active by walking. I made a point to eat one big satisfying meal every day and have dessert too because let’s face it — what meal is complete without dessert?” she added. Luckily, Mehak didn’t gain a single pound but actually lost a kilo! “I am glad I did not resist having a bar of chocolate or a slice of pizza when I wanted to.” Mehak’s experience shows us that too much of anything — even healthy diet food — is never good for you.
Be selective about sweets
There is nothing more appealing to one’s sweet tooth than a bar of chocolate during the cold winter months. Or a bowl of kheer at weddings. But you have to work hard to keep off the extra pounds, right. Therefore, try to be selective when it comes to desserts as well. Always remember that not all of them are as delicious as they appear and if it has too many calories, the dish better be worth it.
Burn it off
The holidays may not be the most ideal time to work out but trust us, you will not regret it later. If you’re vacationing abroad, try to incorporate as much walking into your routine as possible. This is not only a great way to experience the foreign location you’re in but will also burn off all the excess fats you might have consumed earlier. After all, one should maximise their travel experience to the fullest and that includes exotic new cuisines. So if you’re in, say Italy, don’t pass on the authentic gelato or those scrumptious baguettes from France because that would just be silly! You can eat whatever you like, so long as it is worked off afterwards.
Hafsah Sarfraz is an Islamabad-based reporter for The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, December 20th, 2015.