Fasting can transcend food alone and cover other aspects of life too
Intermittent fasting during Chaitra Navratri can be good for health
Studies indicate that intermittent fasting can help in improving a person's blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin sensitivity. It has also been found that longer periods of fasting (2 to 4 days) aids in rebooting the immune system, clearing out old immune cells, and regenerating new ones.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, "Navratri is the detoxification of body, mind and soul. Body detoxification means eating less; avoiding cereals (you can take wheat grass juice); eating once if possible; and following a Satvik lifestyle. In a Navratri diet wheat flour is replaced with Kuttu or Singhara flour; pulses are replaced with amaranth or Rajgiri; and rice is substituted with Samak rice. During this period, it is possible to engage in the detoxification of the mind and soul by practicing Yoga Sadhna as described in nine forms of Durga. Chaitra Navratri culminates in Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama. Hence, the birth of consciousness is equivalent to being in touch with his birth. This festival should, therefore, be celebrated as a disciplined way of acquiring internal happiness and not as a forced means of fasting."
Fast does not mean 'not eating' but rather controlling desires and simultaneously cultivating positive mental attitudes. Desires can be of many types: eating tasty food, smelling good, listening to a particular music, watching beautiful things, etc. Similarly, fasting can also be of different types: food fast (food items), eye fast (watching things Rajsik in nature), ear fast (avoiding listening to stimulating music), action fast (not indulging in various activities), and speech fast (not speaking evil).
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, "The significance of a 'medical vrata' needs to be underlined for everyone. The simpler version of 'vrata' can be: not eating carbohydrates at all once in a week and replacing them with fruits and vegetables."
HCFI tips for fasting.
· Plan your diet especially if you have medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Do not skip your medication schedule. Keep a healthy snack handy for those cravings.
· Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water, coconut water, green tea, buttermilk, and lime juice. Avoid aerated drinks.
· Avoid gorging on salty 'vrat snacks'. Eat something that is boiled or roasted instead.
· Use rock salt in your food instead of usual salt as it helps in better mineral absorption. It is also beneficial for those who have high or low blood pressure.
· Eat lighter meals as these can aid digestion.
· For dessert, you can try eating dates or fruit yogurt. Also, add honey instead of sugar.
· Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Dr K K Aggarwal