Things to keep in mind when you are fasting during the holy month of Shravan
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Shravan is an auspicious period dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is the fifth month in the Hindu calendar. Usually, the holy month of Shravan falls during the peak of the monsoon. Every state has a region-specific celebration on Shravan Purnima. In 2018,  Shravan begins on July 23 and ends on August 22. During the period of Shravan, people observe fasting. Some people fast on all four Mondays which are called Shravan Somwar and others observe fasting for the whole month.

People generally eat only one meal during the day, called Eka Bhukta Bhojan, which is eaten after sunset. This meal consists of specific fasting foods. Abstinence is also a part of Shravan during which devotees stay away from alcohol, non-vegetarian food and foods that contain salt, garlic or onion. These are a big no-no when you are making your Shravan foods meal plan.

Fast and abstinence during Shravan do not mean you have to starve yourself. The intention is to learn self-control and to detoxify your body during the holy month. If you want to observe a fast during Shravan, nutritionists suggest that you plan your diet of Shravan foods so that you remain healthy. Keeping in mind the food items that are allowed and not allowed, these tips will help decide what can work as fasting foods.

Bangalore-based Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, senior consultant, Nutritionist of Apollo Hospitals recommends incorporating milk in the form of fruit milkshake or fruit lassi without sugar in your Shravan foods. As fasting foods, these will help to keep you energetic throughout the day. Make your fasting foods healthier by adding dry fruits to your milkshake. "The first rule of fasting is to stay hydrated and maintain one’s electrolytes. Stay hydrated with unsweetened buttermilk and coconut water. These beverages have sodium as well as potassium and minimal sugar,” she says. These drinks make great substitutes for fasting foods.

Dr Rohatgi also suggests including dried fruits and nuts in your Shravan foods plan. For fasting foods, almonds, walnuts and dates in the diet are a good source of proteins as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

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Accompany the usual fasting foods such as sabudana (tapioca) and rajgira (amaranth) with a healthy cooler drink, suggests Dr Rohatgi. Make a drink of cucumber, celery, mint and lemon to go with your Shravan foods.

Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist Disha Jhaveri advises that the main focus of fasting foods should be your overall wellbeing. A lot of people end up compromising their protein intake with fasting foods. To compensate, you can consume up to 750 ml of milk and include dairy products in your Shravan foods. This will ensure that your body gets all the nutrition.

"Rajgira and singhara (water chestnuts) are better fasting foods alternatives to starchy potatoes. You can easily make parathas using these ingredients for your Shravan foods as well as desserts such as sheera and kheer. Try to stick to roasting and boiling instead of deep frying your Shravan foods. Millet (bhagar) is another nutritious substitute that can be part of your Shravan foods," says Jhaveri.

Mumbai-based Dr Siddhant Bhargava, co-founder and nutritionist of Food Darzee offers a fasting foods plan: Start your day with a glass of milk and some dry fruits. This will help you retain energy. You can also pair the glass of milk with a fruit like chickoo or apple. For your Shravan foods lunch, have vegetables and include a source of protein like cottage cheese or soya. Eating vegetables like spinach and kale in fasting foods will provide you with the required minerals for your body.  Since you’ll be refraining from grains and pulses in Shravan foods, sabudana khichdi, moriya (Indian banyard millet) ki khichdi, boiled potato chaat and vegetables or singhara chilas are a few healthy options for fasting foods.

He adds, "During rainy evenings none of us can avoid the temptation of fried food so we must look for healthier options for fasting foods. Replace unhealthy foods like fried potato and banana chips with roasted preparations for your Shravan foods. You can add roasted papad or roasted chivda to your fasting foods list. Eat raw bananas or potatoes in a limited quantity to avoid stomach discomfort." To keep yourself hydrated he suggests drinking at least eight to ten glasses of water. You can even have green tea in the evening.

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For dinner, Dr Bhargava suggests a meal of Shravan foods which includes chapatis made of rajgira flour or singhara flour or moriya ki khichdi. Accompany these fasting foods with 2 bowls of vegetable or 2 bowls of salad with cottage cheese or soya and a homemade dessert. You can also have a cup of skimmed milk and some fruits before going to bed if you want to keep your fasting foods light.

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