festivals Archives - Munmun Ganeriwal
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Things you SHOULD DO :

The Prophet has said, ‘Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.'” Having the Suhoor meal before the Fajr prayer is so important that in old days, a mesaharati (public waker) was appointed during the month of Ramadhan only to wake people up so that they eat before the prayers and the impending fast.

Eating a wholesome meal just before you begin fasting will keep your blood sugar level steady, prevent nausea & headache during fasting hours and will give you the energy to sustain throughout the day.

Things to NOT DO :

Do not skip this meal even if it requires you to wake up 15-20 mins before you otherwise would.

MEAL OPTIONS – Hot homemade breakfast like poha milk/ roti dahi/ upma/ eggs & roti.




Things you SHOULD DO :

1. Eat slowly, it will help you feel full and prevent you from over eating
2. Eat max 2-3 items at a time
3. Plan your meals ahead
4. Eat fresh meals cooked at home
5. Any one dessert 30 mins post your main meal

Things to NOT DO :

1. Do not overstuff yourself as it will lead to acidity, lethargy, bloating
2. Do not drink too much at a time and too fast. Instead have sips of water throughout the non-fasting hours
3. Avoid packaged/ processed food products. They will cause dehydration, constipation, insulin resistance and weight gain


Have small meals frequently at short intervals. This will ensure that your system is not overloaded and there’s enough time to eat and digest all the different delicacies.

Break your fast with– Dates/ Seasonal Fresh fruits / Homemade sherbets

Post Magrib prayerHaleem/ Biryani raita/ Nonbu kanji/ Rice or Roti & any one type of meat

Post Taraweeh prayer – Milk/ Masala milk/ Milk with gulkand/ Haldi doodh/ Labaan/ Roasted makhana/ Buttermilk


1. Tea/ coffee – Not more than 2 cups/ day. Have it 15-20 mins after your main evening meal

2. Exercise– Best time to workout is 60 mins post your main evening meal. Make sure to hydrate immediately after your session and have a post workout meal (fruit & protein shake) to replenish your fluid and glycogen

3. Sleep– Make sure you get restful sleep so that you wake up fresh for the fast next day. Not only does inadequate sleep interfere with digestion, it will leave you cranky, irritable and also contribute to weight gain. Rubbing ghee or sesame oil on the soles of the feet at bedtime induces sound sleep

4. Fluids – Drink plenty of water between Iftaar and Suhoor to ensure the colour of urine is crystal clear, not cloudy

Stay healthy, stay blessed! Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!!

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Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

The traditional bhog/ naivedyam offered to Gods not only during Holi but on all special occasions : Puran poli and why you must eat it –

1. Weight loss – With a high Nutrient to calorie ratio, it increases satiety. Being full of good fat and with optimum fibre content and low GI, it accelerates fat burning

2. Diabetic – The maida poli when stuffed with pulses-jaggery mixture and eaten with generous amounts of ghee becomes low on glycaemic index and helps to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels

3. Cancer – Rich in phyto chemicals and antioxidants, pulses (chana dal/ arhar dal) contain anti cancer properties

4. Builds immunity- Ghee, hailed as the new “Superfood” has anti bacterial anti viral properties and increases your immunity against allergies and infections (much needed after long hours of colour -playing session J)

5. Blood pressure – The potassium and magnesium in jaggery regulates the blood pressure and the acid-base balance in the blood and tissues

6. Aids digestion – Ghee is a rich source of butyric acid, which helps maintain the integrity of intestinal wall

7. Osteoporosis – The calcium found in pulses contributes to promoting bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporotic fractures

8. PCOD – The many essential minerals found in jaggery makes it the traditional therapy for reducing PMS, cravings, cramps and mood swings

9. Thyroid – Ghee is crucial for assimilation of fat-soluble Vit D, the vitamin that helps support your thyroid gland

10. Anaemia – Because of the high iron content found in jaggery and pulses, it is good for preventing iron deficiency anaemia

Have a delicious and colourful Holi!

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Diwali – “Yuktahaar” styleThings to do during and post-Diwali:

1. Start your day with a teaspoon of ghee, ajwain and kaala namak

2. Eat small meals frequently throughout the day
In the middle of all the preparations, cooking, shopping and socialising, make time to eat. Starving during the day and binging at dinner represents the classical fasting and feasting behaviour. Eating every 2-3 hours will make sure you don’t end up feeling bloated, acidic, dull or tired. In short, you don’t end up needing a post- Diwali detox 🙂

3. Make sure you are well hydrated
The fumes and smoke from burning of crackers, pollutants and dust leads to dehydration. Keep bottle of water within your sight and sip on it throughout the day. Water from a copper vessel is especially good not only to up your immunity but also to keep a check on constipation and other gastric issues.

P.S. – Have a glass of fresh sugarcane juice for a radiant and youthful skin tonight 🙂

4. Do have the Diwali sweets and savory goodies
It’s the time to enjoy the festivities and indulge in your favorite food. Only make sure that-

a. You have them homemade – Made at home the traditional way (with ghee/dry fruits/ nuts/ milk/ sugar), they are nutrient dense and regulate our blood sugars. Result of which is that you don’t crave and reach out for a bar of chocolate loaded with harmful preservatives and commercial sugars
b. You pick only one item at a time

5. Eat from home when going out for a late night party
A small and wholesome snack just before you step out is a great idea to prevent late night overeating. And if you are the kinds who is too pressed for time, even a quick bite into a banana will do the trick 🙂

6. If drinking till the crack of dawn makes your Diwali night come alive, ensure-
a. You sip on it slow
b. Have a glass of water for every glass of drink
c. You are not on an empty stomach. Either eat a good wholesome meal before drinking or have it along with your drinks


7. Practice Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) with a full array of blankets and bolsters (Iyengar yoga style)
A powerful antidote to the state of stress, it turns up the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the “rest and digest” response and supports digestion, relaxes muscles and promotes a good night’s sleep. No wonder, it is often called the ‘queen of restorative poses’.

Wish you and your family a very happy Diwali!!

Image Credit: Google images

Read more on diet tips for Indian festivals & special occasions-

1. Diwali survival guide: Here’s how to party hard and not gain weight

2. Modak – ‘A different perspective’

3. Home is where the detox is

4. The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful

5. The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”

6. The ‘scientific’ view on ‘Maa ke haath kaa khana’ on Mother’s day

7. Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

8. Mahalaya Amavasya


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The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful

Open letters are breaking the Internet these days. Farhan Akhtar recently wrote one to his daughter and Amitabh Bachchan to his granddaughters. Also in the very recent past, films such as Pink and Parched have done impeccably well in addressing women’s issues in both rural and urban settings in India. Today we are at the last day of Navratri, a festival dedicated to the feminine nature of the Divine. The feminine has always been worshipped in Indian culture in various forms. She is referred to as ‘Adi Shakti’, ‘Param Shakti’, ‘Maha Shakti’ or simply as ‘Shakti’. Today, most households in India will invite small Kanyas for prasad, worship them and give them gifts. The belief is to recognize in the girl child the power, energy and strength that is vested—the ‘Shakti’.

Yet, at the same time, ours is a culture which has also seen a terrible exploitation of the feminine. Though people’s awareness about women’s issues is gradually on the rise, what I believe needs to be done at the most basic level is to bring about some important changes in the way we bring up our girls.

1. Bring them up to be strong, independent women, not delicate “Daddy’s Princesses”

If we constantly keep our girls away from sports and athletics, and worry more about their complexion getting darker in the sun, we cannot be sure of giving them a safe and secure future. If we keep fretting over their bruises and repeat expressions in front of them such as ‘daag nahi gaya toh shaadi kaun karega’, we can be sure of raising a generation that will only continue to get exploited. Sports do a lot more than they appear to. In my career as a fitness professional, I have often come across girls who play sports but only until they are in the 8th or 9th standard. As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to encourage them to keep pursuing sports even later or to weight train at the gym and/ or take up any traditional form of yoga practice. Lifting weights at the gym is not going to make them look less like girls—in fact, it will give them the strength and courage (both physical and mental) to stand up for themselves and never give up. Practising inversions (head stands, shoulder stands, etc.) at yoga classes empowers a girl to “choose” and not simply “comply”. She learns to rise against conventions and conditioning, without the fear of falling down.

Shakti’ is literally translated as ‘Strength’ and Strong is NOT the ‘new’ beautiful. Strong has always been the ONLY beautiful. The festival of Navratri is based on this fundamental insight.

2. Free them from the chains of shallow conditioning, the so called breed of ‘cultured’ girls

Violence at home is India’s ‘failing’—BBC, 2014.

What sets our country apart from the rest of the world is the culture of silence that surrounds it. Ironically, the more educated a girl is, the more silent she gets. The pressure to fit in with society’s expectations, to be a ‘cultured’ girl who is always smiling and enduring, is shouldered more by the so-called ‘acche ghar ki ladkiyan’. This, by the way, is the exact opposite of education, for education is supposed to remove your fears and set you free. The “beti bachao, beti padhao yojana” sounds a lot like a joke. The responsibility does not lie with schools but with each of us. It is our responsibility to stop raising “Good” girls. Instead, let us raise “Strong” girls.

3. Let’s change their bedtime stories with the changing times

Stories of Cinderella and the like mostly revolve around the sad plight of beautiful girls waiting to be rescued by their Prince Charming. When we live in a society where incidents of domestic violence are reported about once every five minutes (BBC, 2014), I really wonder if stories of “happily ever after” really make any sense. Instead, let’s tell them stories of bravery, grit, valour, and honour, of the invincible Durga from mythology, of Jhansi ki Raani from history, and of Yusra Mardini or Reshma Qureshi in our current times.

4. And lastly, stop body shaming, please!

We come from a culture where we apply ‘kaala tikka’ on the foreheads of our children with the belief that each child, whether dark or fair, tall or short, fat or thin, is beautiful. Today, it is in vogue for mothers to be constantly worried. In my work, I meet worried mothers on a regular basis. ‘Yeh dil maange more’ is the mantra: can she be a little thinner, a little taller, and of course, a little more fair than what she is? Interestingly, most of these mothers are themselves quite unfit to begin with. Get a life, mommies! Start with yourself first. After all, Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, “Be the change you want to see.”

Read about the journey of grit, courage and strength of these strong women who overcame hurdles to be healthier and happier-




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For people like us who have been attached to our land where we come from for thousands of years, food is more than just a sum total of calories and nutrients. Our traditional meals define our identity and represent our relationship with the earth, wind and the sky.

This point, so often lost in an age when processed foods and foods traveling long distances are commonplace, is driven home by special days like today. Mahalaya Amavasya is a special day when we make an offering to express our gratitude and respect to all the generation of our ancestors who have contributed to our life in some way or the other. We not only owe to them our existence but without their contribution we would not even have the most ordinary things in our life, those that we often forget to cherish in the everyday routine and hustle bustle. The language that we speak, the way we dress, much less the food we grew up eating – almost everything that we know today has come to us from generations before us.

Also, during this time, farmers will just begin to harvest their produce and offer the first produce to the ancestors as a mark of respect and thankfulness, before the whole country breaks into festivities of Dusshera and Diwali.

But we, the ‘educated’ are so busy trying to look ‘thin’, ‘cool’ and lose weight that we have taken the food wisdom passed on to us through generations (of course, along with various other teachings of our ancestors) simply for granted and belittled it into some “calorie counting science”. B.M.Popkin, American food science researcher, even coined a term for it – ‘Nutrition Transition’ – The transition of developing countries from their traditional diets to more Western pattern diets of packaged & processed foods, that in turn is causing increased rates of adverse health and obesity.

Hope this Pitru Paksh, we find an opportunity to not only offer gratitude but also go back to our roots where we come from, not only to lose weight but also to leave behind a legacy of health and well being for all generations to come.


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Modak– A different perspective

The Ganpati festival has begun and as we prepare to welcome home the God of good luck, the WhatsApp and Facebook timelines of all Mumbaikars get filled with adverts of ‘sugar free’, ‘low fat’, and ‘zero cholesterol’ modaks.


The first reference to this traditional sweet made of rice dumplings filled with a coconut and jaggery mixture and sealed with ghee is found in the Padma Purana that dates as far back as 4th century AD.

Sage Patanjali (the sage behind Yoga Sutras) would had never thought that thousands of years later, biscuits and noodles would be sold in his name. Similarly, Ganpati while winning the modak from his mother Parvati, would have never guessed that his favourite delicacy, years later, would be transformed into various versions of the low sugar/ low fat variety by the weight loss industry, looking out for people ready to consume products in the name of health or weight loss.

But as they say, the truth has a way of catching up, and rightly so, now the Modern Science is also in sync with the age old Padma Purana. In their 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, they recommend that we must eat traditional foods that are also a part of our culture.

So ladies and gentlemen, as we get ready to welcome the pot-bellied elephant-headed God, here are few frequently asked questions (FAQS) on his most loved sweet, the Modak:

  • I am diabetic. Can I really eat the modak?
    Nutrition science tells us that addition of fat to a meal brings down its glycemic index. Fat slows stomach emptying, delaying the process of converting food to blood sugar. Hence, the more fat, the slower the sugars (‘carbohydrates’) are digested, and the lower the glycemic index. Voila! You now know why your grandmother always added good amount of ghee while rolling those modaks for you! (By the way, if you are a diabetic, here are some basic tips to change your lifestyle)


  • What’s really wrong with the sugar-free variety?
    Ok, I give you that you only know about the sweeteners through TV commercials with celebs swearing by them but if you are taking them in place of sugar; then you better know that the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) discourages the mindless use of sweeteners in place of sugar for weight loss or even diabetes.


  • Isnt it ‘fattening’?
    The rice flour in modak boasts of an essential amino acid called lysine, that accelerates fat burning. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid, that not only promotes a healthy gut environment but is also fat burning in nature!


  • My doctor has put me on cholesterol lowering drugs. What do I do?
    If you are worried about coconut and ghee and hence cholesterol, know that in April 2015, the USFDA said that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption”. Basically, they believe that dietary guidelines were pointing in the wrong direction and cholesterol and fat is now making a huge comeback.


  • Come on, after all, I am on a diet!
    Modak could easily qualify as a ‘superfood’—rich in minerals and B vitamins, gluten-free, source of protein, increases insulin sensitivity and full of good fat. So if being on a ‘diet’ is what you like, you should definitely not miss the modaks

“Ganpati Bappa Moriya, Pudcha varshi loukar ya!”

Read more on diet tips for Indian festivals & special occasions-

1. Diwali survival guide: Here’s how to party hard and not gain weight

2. 7 Diet & Exercise Tips for Diwali – The “Yuktahaar” style

3. Home is where the detox is

4. The ‘Shakti’ is within – Strong is beautiful

5. The story of the fish on your plate: From “food” to “omega3”

6. The ‘scientific’ view on ‘Maa ke haath kaa khana’ on Mother’s day

7. Puranpolis: Tuck it in, it’s Holi after all!

8. Mahalaya Amavasya


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