Controlled indulgence

There is no doubt that traditional celebrations mean a feeling of good will to all; family, friends  and of course the  food. The festivities also bring back all the wonderful childhood memories of celebrations of the past and we want to pass on all those wonderful feelings of happiness and excitement; anticipation, present giving and joy to the next generation. It can be a pressured time for parents who want to get it just right for everyone especially for young children. Finding the right presents can also be a pressure.

I must admit I do like to do the cooking. Once all the shopping is done my husband is the present wrapper and I put on lovely festive music and settle in the kitchen to cook all my favourite festive treats. It is my gift to everyone. But I get loads of help from my children and they all have their special little jobs that they do every year. I really enjoy it and I start my planning early December; I am lucky being self-employed as I can give myself the time. I also enjoy getting up early to see the joy on my children's faces as they open their presents.

Eating and feasting is a part of all celebrations:  There are so many traditional dishes to enjoy and so many contain ingredients that we would not usually eat at any other time of the year. But as I always say Eid, Diwali and the festive seasons are times when the usual rules of healthy eating do not apply: these are not times to look for low fat recipes on the Internet. These are times to just enjoy and indulge in customs and traditions passed from one generation to the next.

Most adults need to keep a quiet eye on their weight as you do not want to put on so much weight that after the celebration is over you feel you have loads of weight to lose and you feel you have overindulged.

So how do you enjoy everything but not feel guilty? The answer is controlled indulgence.

A little of everything is fine; you deserve to have some of everything but you do not need too much as there is so much to enjoy.  Take time eating and tasting and enjoying every mouthful.

When you savour every mouthful you do not need to eat to excess. Enjoy your meals but avoid snacking in between meals so that you are really hungry and ready to enjoy the next exciting meal. If you really savour the taste of everything you do not need to pile your plate high.

Alva Carpenter/Nutritionist and fitness expert based in the Gulf. Readers can send questions to


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