While there is no age limit to fasting, senior citizens need to pay special attention to their diets to prevent their health from getting damaged. Read on to discover nutritious and healthy food items that align with Indian rituals and culture.
Fasting has been a part of religious practices since ancient times. According to holy books and spiritual leaders, fasting is an act of sacrifice that establishes a connection between the mind, body and soul; but this is grounded in science. According to celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, “food is restricted as a method of disciplining the senses. Nutritionally, it empowers us with nutrients to make us not just physically stronger but also to bring about hormonal balance. It’s a religious method of teaching families that good physical health is of paramount importance to the wellbeing of communities and societies.”
For senior citizens, eating right is more important than eating less. Elders need to keep a check on their diet plan during fasting in order to stay energised and active throughout the day.
Dieticians’ Tips on Fasting
Fasting is a good way to detox and cleanse the body. However, you should also take care of your body’s many nutritional requirements when you fast. Follow these general guidelines and do it right.
- Opt for mid-meals, in order to avoid energy crash
- Avoid creamy, salty and sweet food that can lead to weight gain in the long run. Instead stick to fresh fruits, dry fruits, nuts, milk, etc.
- Avoid fried food items. Instead prepare fast-friendly recipes such as roasted dosas made with rajgira, singhare, kuttu ka atta , and bhagar khichdi.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Bangalore-based Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, senior consultant, Nutritionist of Apollo Hospitals says “All fasts definitely cleanse your body – only when you accompany them with healthy food and hydration.” So, drink 1-2 glasses of water at regular intervals, to ease your digestion process. Avoid consuming aerated drinks.
- Stick to light-to-moderate activities throughout the fast. For example, you can take a 15-20 minute walk in the park, instead of jogging, skipping or cycling, etc.
Senior citizens who observe fast to celebrate different auspicious festivals should consider including the following items in their fasting diet, to stay healthy.
Potato is one of the most popular food items that’s consumed during fasting. A rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber – potatoes keep you satiated for a long time. They provide lots of energy and keep you hydrated all through the day.
You can prepare crunchy aloo patty, aloo chaat, dahi aloo, etc. Tender and luscious – these dishes are a treat during any fast.
If you are bored of having potatoes during fast, then sweet potato is a welcome change. Unlike the regular potato, it is loaded with proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. One of the key nutritional benefits of sweet potato is that they are an excellent source of beta-carotene. This element acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body and helps reduce the risk of various types of diseases, including cancer.
You can prepare sweet potato tikki or patties. Filling and delicious – it is the perfect snack for any fast or vrat.
Rajgira is one of the most commonly consumed food items during religious fasting.
Made from the seeds of the amaranth plant - rajgira flour contains an abundance of nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In addition, the essential fatty acids in rajgira flour help maintain glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Packed with fibre, this food item not only helps in detoxification but also keeps hunger pangs at bay; thereby, making you crave less while fasting.
You can prepare rotis, parathas, puris and ladoos from rajgira atta. Healthy and nutritious – these dishes work as a perfect accompaniment during fasts.
Sabudana, or sago in English, is an excellent source of carbohydrates and starch, this food item provides you much-needed energy during fasting. Low in fat, it is also easy to digest.
You can make sabudana khichdi, sabudana fitters or sabudana kheer. All three items make for a great fasting snack.
Milk and Milk-Based Products
Milk is a common staple in many people's lives. Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin D – milk boosts metabolism and lowers blood pressure. It also stimulates the production of hunger-fighting hormones, hence keeping you full for a longer time.
Buttermilk and milkshakes can keep you hydrated. You can even prepare various milk-based desserts like – kheer, sewai, basundi, etc. Light and fresh, they can make you feel satiated throughout the day.
Choose high-fiber fruits like apple, guava and strawberries that provide a slow, steady stream of glucose during the fast. Fruits also decrease levels of inflammation. This results in deeper detoxification and better weight management. Moreover, your digestive system stays active and healthy.
You can prepare different types of fruit juices and fruit salads. Succulent and flavorsome – these food items can fulfill your nutritional intake during fast or vrat.
Dry fruits like almonds,walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, etc, offer an incredible amount of protein and energy. They build and repair the body tissues and actively support the nerve cells, red blood cells and the immune system.
You can add dry fruits in milkshakes, fruit juices, and various other milk-based desserts. Healthy, nutritious and lip-smacking – these food items can help you control your hunger during fasting.
Niyati Likhite, a dietician at Fortis Hospital Kalyan, advises, “Elders with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, tuberculosis, renal disease and other illnesses should avoid fasting." Depending on your culture and ritual, fasting can be done at any age. However, you need to remember that as you age, your body suffers from low immunity, poor digestion, weak bones and muscles as well as fatigue. Hence, be sure to check with your doctor or dietician to find out the best diet plans for you in order to avoid any health issues.
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