The auspicious month of Shravan or Sawan is here and will be marked by many important fasts and festivals from Teej, Raksha Bandhan, Jasnmashtami to Nag Panchami. Sawan Somwar fasts are widely observed by Lord Shiva devotees across the country and it is believed that those who keep these fasts are blessed with good luck, fortune, wealth and fulfillment of wishes. Unmarried girls observe Shravan Mondays to get a suitable match while married women pray for their family’s health and well-being. (Also read: Sawan Somwar 2023: Puja vidhi, samagri, mantra, shubh muhurat, all you want to know about the auspicious Hindu festival)
Significance of nutrition during Sawan fasting
This year the month of Sawan began on July 4 and end on August 31. The first Sawan Somwar fast will be observed on July 10 and the last one on August 28, 2023. Sawan Somwar fasts not only have religious significance, but they also offer an opportunity to detox your digestive system. It is important not to overindulge in sugar-laden and deep-fried food as such diet can do more harm than good. Adding satvik foods like fresh vrat-friendly fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy items like milk, curd, paneer can boost health and put us in a better frame of mind to meditate and worship Lord Shiva.
“Sawan season has begun again and many people observe Monday fasts in this season. Such fasts, along with serving religious purpose, also benefit from health point of view. They do the perfect job to cleanse and rejuvenate the body, calm the mind and purify the soul,” says Richa Doshi, Celebrity Dietician & Founder of The Health Studio in an interview with HT Digital.
Nutrition tips for Sawan Somwar fasting
1. Have small and frequent meals
Fasting doesn’t mean to starve yourselves. This fast’s purpose is to include superfoods in the diet that give a boost to the body’s immune system and are light for the gut. Have small, frequent and light meals. This helps to keep balanced energy levels and also prevents dropping of blood sugar levels.
2. Hydration is the key
Hydration is very important whenever you are fasting. Most of the times, when we feel hungry we are actually dehydrated. Along with this, dehydration makes a person feel lazy and lethargic, adding on to troubles. Keep sipping water, lemon water, coconut water, buttermilk etc. Along with water, electrolyte replenishment is also essential for the body.
3. Pair veggies with potato
Now, this is something important to understand. This fast allows the consumption of tuberous vegetables such as potato, sweet potato, colocasia etc. Having starchy vegetables alone will cause the blood sugar levels to spike up quickly. So, in order to balance the meal, have any fibrous vegetable along like spinach, tomato, pumpkin etc.
4. Looking at way of cooking
Next tip is the balance of calories and nutrition by the way of cooking. The superfoods consumed in such fasts – buckwheat, amaranth, potato, sweet potato etc. are all loaded with vitamins and minerals. We all know that most of these are heat labile ie the nutrients in them are lost by cooking at high temperatures. So, the crux is to avoid deep-frying of vegetables. Use different cooking methods like baking, roasting or grilling. This will preserve the nutritional value, along with lower calorific value.
5. Wean with amaranth protein
When I use the word weaning, it implies the ‘introduction’ of solid or liquid foods to the baby. Now here the significance is introducing amaranth grain into the diet of Indians. This is not regularly consumed but Rajgiri/seel (local names) is a good source of protein from all the foods allowed in sawan fast (4g / 30g). Also, dairy products, preferably the ones low in fat also add on to the ‘nitrogen containing nutrient’.
6. Treat yourself with buckwheat
Use kuttu ka atta to make rotis, uttapam, dosa etc. It is a pseudocereal that has high iron content (4.65 mg/30g), much higher than wheat, rice and ragi. Also, its protein content is comparably higher than that of other cereals.
7. Truth of sweet tooth
When fasting, knowing that you have to refrain from eating certain foods, mind can get into the trap of cravings. The sugar cravings can be handled by pumpkin halwa, samai rice kheer, makhana kheer, dates, dates and walnut lassi, fruit raita etc.
8. Tracking the snacking
Make sure to refrain from all those namkeen packets of chips and bhujia and have healthy snacks instead. Have a fruit salad when hungry. Handful of nuts will also keep you full. You can also have a small serving of baked or steamed sweet potato. Roasted makhanas work wonders for offering satiety (keep a check on the quantity of makhanas you consume).
9. The healthy dairy
No matter what, a glass of milk satisfies all the Indians. Locally called as kadha hua doodh, it’s that milk which has been heated to thicken it by evaporating its water. Flavors can be added to this such as cardamom, kesar etc. This offers complete fullness to the stomach. Also, one can have paneer or lassi to keep the gut healthy and detoxify it, since they contain appreciable levels of pre-biotics. Prefer having skimmed milk over full-fat milk.
10. Swap sugar with jaggery
Now rather than having processed sugar, go for jaggery or gur. Sawan fast observes a Satvik diet which doesn’t include foods that have been refined and processed. Also, it is healthier than sugar. Jaggery is rich in iron too.
11. Have a deep sleep
Fasting also requires your body to rest and relax. 7-8 hours of good quality sleep will keep the person active. Moreover, adequate sleep decreases the hunger cravings and a person tends to eat less. Lethargy and boredom invite cravings.