Are you fasting for karvachauth? Do the memories of your last attempt still haunt you? It’s no secret that fasting can be a daunting task, one that can sometimes have damaging repercussions, and take a toll on your health. However, we decided that this year would be different. So we got in touch with our in-house expert Pooja Bhargava, and asked her to write the ultimate step-by-step survival guide for Karvachauth. We promise there won’t be any fainting spells this time.
While fasting once in a while is a great idea to help your digestive system function more efficiently, it also is very tough on the energy systems of the body and if not taken care of in the right way, can have serious detrimental effects on the working of the body.
Do’s and Dont’s a day prior to fasting:
A day prior to the fast, make sure you are well hydrated. Water is the elixir of our life. Since you are not going to be drinking water the whole of the next day, stay well-hydrated a day before by means of a refreshing lemongrass drink or a fresh lime water or barley water infused with lemon and orange slices. The Vitamin C content in these waters will help quench the thirst and also act as a strong antioxidant to take care of the radical cell damage in stress built up in the blood vessels while on fast. Avoid using refined sugar, as this will only spike your insulin levels, and create more hunger pangs by falling off just as drastically. A night before the fast, have a hearty meal with a good amount of carbohydrates as they are the energy givers, and are stored in a concentrated form of glucose to give sustained energy ahead. Be very smart in your choice of carbohydrates – choose very complex carbs like jowar, rye, oats, bajra, amaranth, and whole wheat. These cereals contain a lot of dietary fiber, which makes their building blocks break at a much slower rate and hence keep you satiated for a longer period of time.
On the day of the fast, during sargi – the hour before sunrise – eat a good meal comprising of fruits like berries, bananas, oranges, pomegranate, papaya and pears. Apples, oranges, pears, and berries are a source of soluble fiber. Have a good portion of homemade paneer and an oatmeal or bran roti. Oats also have soluble fibers, which form a gel with the water and thus delay emptying of the stomach, thereby making one feel fuller for a longer period. This in turn will influence the right insulin activity and help releasing the blood glucose at a slower pace, helping the storage of carbs in the liver. Carbs stored in the liver ensure a steady supply of energy to the brain, which is responsible for our body’s working mechanisms.
Paneer is a protein source, rich in casein, slowly releasing amino acids in the muscles. It takes care of the muscle fuel, not breaking down for at least a few hours. Avoid having tea or coffee immediately after this meal as Tannin and caffeine leave one dehydrated. You have the entire day ahead without water and less water in the stomach will only promote more activity of the HCL acid in the gut, making one more nauseous, and acidic. Instead, have a refreshing drink of lemongrass. Most households follow a meal of sweets in the mornings with oil-laden parathas. While parathas will be a good option, sweets are only going to make one feel dizzy, more thirsty, and hungry sooner as they affect the insulin activity. Try having fresh fruits and dried fruits instead, like dates and figs.
A Sample meal for sargi:
- A bowl of mixed fruits
- 1 Oatmeal and whole roti
- 100 grams of homemade paneer with methi leaves
- ½ cup of yogurt
- *Wait for some time*
- 2 glasses of lemongrass drink
- 1 date or fig
Throughout The Day:
The meal had at sargi will help you sail through the next 4-5 hours without any discomfort. Keep yourself busy to avoid thoughts of thirst or hunger. Our body can function without food for 48 hours but without water in hot temperature dehydration can set in very fast. Although, if you have taken care of hydration as per the rules mentioned above, you won’t be very uncomfortable.
Celebrate the day! Pamper yourself; going to the spa in the evening will help in diverting your mind and relaxing you. Don’t involve yourself in any strenuous activity on this day as your body is running on stored energy and not being refueled at proper intervals. Exercising or doing some drastic movements will only leave you more famished and parched.
While Breaking The Fast:
This could be the trickiest part. Some women lose their hunger signals by now as the brain’s activity diminishes as a result of a low glucose surge in the blood. Some women are very thirsty and hungry and can over-hydrate at one time, causing strain on kidneys and the gut. Be very calm and you will be able to read your body’s needs for food and water.
Water is the most important nutrient here. A dehydrated gut will produce more acids, thus making one feel more lethargic. Start with a glass of plain water or any infused waters suggested above. Your body is tired and blood glucose levels have fallen low by now. Eat a few dry fruits, a mixture of almonds, walnuts, and some seeds like sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds will give you the right boost – as they are the essential fats, with a good balance of protein and minimal carbs. Drink a glass of water again, replenish your fluids and then eat your meal. The ideal meal here would be hi-glycemic carbs, i.e. carbs that break down easily and faster in the blood stream, to help refill our glycogen stores.
Avoid oily food at all times as it will only leave you feeling heavier and tired. The gut or the digestive system will not be very active, as it was not being used for long hours, and suddenly giving it a complex meal will not help but will surely harm it. It is very natural for someone to feel the sudden urge to have sweets immediately – this is nothing but the low blood glucose levels in the body asking for quick replacement. But be very careful to not give in. You may feel better but it will be only for a very short span.
A Sample meal for the night:
- A glass of water/ refreshing lemongrass drink
- Some nuts and seeds – ½ a fistful
- A glass of water if needed
- 2-3 Idlis/ 2 dosas/ a bowl of bissibelle rice
- A bowl of dal or sambhar or sprouts
- A bowl of yogurt
- A bowl of veggies
- A piece of dark chocolate to satisfy sweet cravings
A day after the fast:Ideally, you should feel good the next day, if you have followed the plan. Regardless of that, the body has gone through a lot of stress the day before. It is advisable to avoid a strenuous exercise routine. Do a light workout, keep drinking enough fluids, and have well balance meals throughout the day.
Here’s wishing you all beautiful women a very healthy and happy karvachauth.
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