How to avoid overeating and enjoy the festival foods you love

In Pakistan, festivities and food are quite synonymous. Round the year festive celebrations give us the perfect excuse to indulge in some mouth-watering delicacies. We make them, we receive them from friends and family, we share them. Force feeding our friends and even children has come to be equated with love and affection. In Pakistan, binge eating during festive occasions has become quite acceptable. What is unacceptable, though, is falling sick due to such overindulgence.

Eid-ul-Adha is a festival marked by dedicated eating, but keeping yourself fit and healthy must be your goal this Eid. Below are few tips on how to avoid overeating and enjoy all the BBQs you want.

Enjoy, but cut back

Cutting back on red meat consumption is a worthy goal. Research shows that even modest amounts of red meat put you at a higher risk for developing heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes. With all that meat stored in your refrigerators, try making red meat only an occasional thing, no more than two servings a week, with a serving size between 1.5 and three ounces.

Avoid fried meat

If planning to eat meat on this Eid, try to take it in the boiled, charcoaled form and avoid taking it in oily/fried form as this increases the calories in a day, for examples kebabs are an excellent choice of food on Eid.

Choose less fatty cuts

When getting the meat cut, ask your butcher to make lean cuts. If your meat has marbling (fat), trim off as much as you can before cooking it. Baking, braising, and stewing can be healthy ways to cook meat without having to add butter, oil, or tons of salt.

Give it a supporting role

When you reduce the amount of meat you’re eating, replace it with plant foods. Instead of a big fillet with a side of potatoes and broccoli, put vegetables, beans, and whole grains center stage. When you eat meat, it should take up just one--quarter of your plate. In general, having a few three 1/2-ounce portions of lean red meat per week seems reasonable from a health perspective.

Grill smarter

Cooking meat at high temperatures, such as frying or grilling, creates compounds that may cause cancer. To minimise their formation, cook meat away from the flame, turning it frequently so that it doesn’t get charred and removing the burnt parts before eating. Pair grilled meats with fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants that counteract the carcinogens. Marinating in oil and an acid, such as lemon or lime juice, before cooking may also help prevent these compounds from forming.

Add in substitutes

Foods that have a savory or umami flavour can impart a meaty taste. Thick and filling mushrooms can do almost anything meat can. Try grilling them – just marinate first so that they don’t char. Beans, such as kidney or cannellini, tofu, and tempeh are versatile and high in protein. And using small amounts of aged cheese in dishes adds umami flavour and creaminess.

Towel off

To remove both grease and calories, blot meatballs and burgers with paper towels after cooking.

Eat smaller portions and only what you love

A clever way of reducing your intake is to focus on your favourite dishes. We suggest that during gatherings, it is wise to take a round of all the food that is available and then pick up and eat only what you love the most, rather than over-eating and consuming the wrong food. This way, you enjoy what you eat and limit the portion size.

Have a light snack before a dinner party to eat less

This can keep your hunger pangs in check and prevent you from bingeing on meat. It is advisable to have salads, soups, and proteins such as fish and chicken so that you are partially full before a party, and can balance your indulgences.

Drink water, nimboo paani, coconut water

Ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day by consuming ample water, nimboo paani and coconut water. It helps you detoxify and you also tend to eat less in the long run.

Put your fork down between bites of steak

Your mom was right: You need to chew your food more thoroughly. A study found that chewing deliberately results in fewer calories consumed at a meal without a reduction in feelings of fullness. That’s easier said than done, though: When you’re tearing through a steak or your favourite burger, it’s hard to remember to slow down.

Try this: Put your fork – or the burger or sandwich – down between each bite. As you chew, think about why you’re loving it so much. Studies show that “mindful eating” techniques like these can reduce the amount you eat without sacrificing satisfaction.