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Maha Shivratri 2024: Foods to eat and avoid during Shivratri fast

Maha Shivratri, one of the most auspicious days for Hindus to observe a day-long fast, is almost here. On this day, Lord Shiva devotees observe a fast to seek his divine blessings. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati entered into matrimony on this day, while another legend says Shiva consumed Halahala poison that emerged from Samudra Manthan to save the planet. Many people go without food and water on this day, while others consume vrat-friendly satvik ahaar to show their devotion to Lord Shiva. The festival falls on the fourteenth day of the dark (waning) half of the lunar month of Phalguna or Magha, a day before the new moon. (Also read | Maha Shivratri 2024 fasting rules: Dos and don’ts for Shiv Puja, fasting; what to eat and avoid)

Maha Shivratri fasting 2024: Apart from spiritual purification, fasting has many benefits for your physical health and mental well-being. Here are list of foods to eat and avoid during fasting(Pinterest)

Apart from spiritual purification, fasting has many benefits for your physical health and mental well-being. However, one must consider including foods and drinks that nourish you well instead of indulging in processed foods or those high in sugar and fat content. An ideal fast diet is a mix of protein, complex carbs, fibre, vitamins, minerals and also probiotics. This makes sure you are able to stay energetic and curb your cravings during fasting hours. (Also read | Maha Shivratri 2024: Shubh muhurat, puja timings, vidhi, samagri and all you need to know)

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Sago, millets, pumpkin, potato, makhana, Arbi, banana, yoghurt are some of the vrat-friendly foods people eat. However, one should be mindful of the cooking technique as deep-fried foods can increase chronic disease risk.

“As the auspicious festival of Maha Shivratri approaches, millions of devotees prepare to observe a day-long fast in honour of Lord Shiva. While the spiritual significance takes centrestage, it’s crucial to ensure that the fast is observed in a way that nurtures both the soul and the body, says Dr Neeti Sharma, Senior Consultant in Nutrition and Dietetics at Marengo Asia Hospitals in Sector 56, Gurugram.

Dr Sharma shares the list of foods that must be consumed and those that must be skipped while observing Shivratri fast.

1. Embrace nutrient-rich foods

Dr. Sharma advises incorporating nutrient-dense foods to sustain energy levels throughout the day. Opt for fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and dairy products like yogurt, which provide essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins.

2. Stay hydrated

It’s essential to remain well-hydrated during the fast. Water, coconut water, and herbal teas are excellent choices to maintain fluid balance. Avoid caffeinated beverages and opting for natural, hydrating options.

3. Whole grains for sustained energy

Whole grains such as amaranth (rajgira), buckwheat (kuttu), and water chestnut flour (singhare ka atta) can be the foundation of your meals. Complex carbohydrates release energy slowly, providing a steady source of vitality during the fasting period.

4. Mindful snacking

For in-between cravings, choose healthy snacks like roasted foxnuts (makhana) or fresh fruit chaat. It is recommended to steer clear of deep-fried items, as they may lead to discomfort and disrupt the purpose of the fast.

5. Dairy delights

Dairy products like milk and paneer are excellent sources of protein. It is crucial to include them in your fasting menu for muscle maintenance and overall well-being.

What to avoid

1. Processed foods

Steer clear of processed and packaged foods high in preservatives and additives. These foods hardly have mostly empty calories that are not helpful in keeping you full during fasting hours. Consuming fresh, homemade meals will provide optimal health benefits.

2. Excessive sugar

Limit the intake of sugary treats and desserts. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey or jaggery if a sweet craving arises.

3. Heavy spices

While a subtle use of spices is encouraged, overly spicy foods may cause discomfort during the fasting period.

4. Caffeine and aerated drinks

Say no to caffeinated beverages and aerated drinks, as they can lead to dehydration. Instead, focus on hydrating with water and herbal teas.

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