Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Party season!

Party season is here!

We all are trying to look right in this festive season of Christmas and New year when we all party galore. Not to mention that the cool whether in India, gives us the opportunity and excuse to dig into loads of food...only to lead us to make new year resolutions of eating healthy.

Here are a few tips on how to look good and eat well too:

1. Keep a record of your daily diet.
2. Partying at home? Shop healthy
3. I know everyone loves sweet treats, but keep these tips in mind for a bright smile.
4. You love food, but you just gotta watch the scale? Remember the smart way to stay slim.
5. Drink water, its winters but it still important to keep yourself hydrated. Also those tequila shots will dehydrate you.
6. Don’t rush to get thin and don’t skip meals .
7. If you are a couch potato, get yourself moving. Walk, exercise and get ready to groove on the dance floor.
8. Parties are usually for the evening, so have a healthy lunch and snack smart in the daytime.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ketogenic diet

Ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s. It was used to control epileptic seizures in refractory seizure patients i.e. patients on which the drugs won't work.

Epilepsy is a taboo in India. It’s a problem surrounded by local myths which goes untreated for a long time (if at all!). The estimated number of persons with epilepsy in India was noted to be approximately 5.5 million, among whom approximately 4.1 million resided in rural areas (Murthy et al,1999).

What does this diet do?
1.Helps reduce the symptoms and frequency of seizures.
2.Reduce drug use and minimize side effects.

What is ketogenic diet?
This diet replaces ketone bodies (produced by fats) as the preferred food of the brain instead of glucose(produced by carbohydrates). Therefore a person on this diet, mainly derives his/her energy from fats.
The classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to protein and carbohydrate together. It excludes high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as cream and butter

No refined carbohydrates (sugar, maida/white flour/all purpose flour, bread, candies, cakes, sweets, colas, sweetened beverages, juices etc.) or high carbohydrate foods like root vegetables (potato, sweet potato etc.), grains, pasta, rice, chapati are given to the person.

As is evident, this diet is very difficult to practice. It has been modified over the years, but the basic principle is the same. Variants of this diet are:

• MCT diet
• Low glycemic index treatment
• Modified Atkins diet

These diets allow for a more generous intake of carbohydrates and proteins than the original ketogenic diet.

Side effects
1. Side effects during the transition phase include constipation, vomitting, abdominal discomfort etc.
2. It might induce 'ketoacidosis', which if not controlled might lead to death of the patient.
3. Deficiencies of nutrients may develop so, the patient should have mineral and vitamin supplements as required.
4. Raised cholesterol levels.

Note: This diet has to be given under medical supervision. Regular tests around the initiation stage are important to know the level of ketosis maintained.

For more information:
John Hopkins Hospital

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eating with family- discourage unhealthy eating in kids.

Eating healthy is one of the most basic needs and getting the kids to eat well has become a daily challenge of parents. In our obsession with calories and vitamins; we tend to forget that food has cultural value also. The childhood is full of memories associated with food (b'days, festivals , other holidays etc.) and it’s the experience which makes it worthwhile.

Here are a few tips for eating healthy as a family:

No TV rule while dining- Talk to each other instead of watching TV. With less distraction and more interaction the kids tend to finish their food.

Don’t eat alone- we tend to eat in a more balanced way when in company. This helps us watch what we are eating. An aware family will always have more healthy dishes on the plate.


Don’t hurry up with your meals- Eating is an experience to be savored. Dinner with your family is usually a time to catch up on everyday activities of each person.

Cook your own meals- This ensures that you have control over what the family eats. Involve you family with small tasks like washing and peeling vegetables or even laying the table. Doing things together make you feel part of the team, and teach lessons of cooperation to the little ones.

Be a role model- We tend to forget that kids observe our behavior. They will most likely follow you if they see you do it. So if you want children to eat well, do it yourself first.

Develop a kitchen garden- or even planting some food in pots will do. This will not only give the freshest of produce, but it'll ensure that some excercise is done while gardening. Delegation of responsibility to the kids regarding care of plants will keep them busy and also make them responsible.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handy tips to shop healthy

Make a list before visiting the supermarket. List according to priority e.g. put yogurt above that pack of chips.


Read the labels- While buying packaged foods; always read nutrition labels and ingredients along with the expiry dates. This will ensure that you get freshest products which will last longer.

Avoid food-like substances- Yes, there are certain "foods" which are not really food but a product of the processing industries. Mostly things with too many ingredients which you can't recognize (e.g. HFCS-High fructose corn syrup) are the ones to avoid.


Go organic- If you want the best for your family then don’t skimp on buying good foodstuffs. Also by doing this, you will not only keep your family healthy , but also help those few people who have taken care that no pesticides should pollute the food.

Visit the farmer's market regularly- the quintessential "sabzi mandi" is the closest we come with regards to local produce and seasonal veggies. The freshest produce with reasonable price tag- Definitely the choice to make.

Finish the items on list before impulse buying- The things you need the least are either at the end or not present in the list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cholesterol Free !!! (hmmm... really?)

This is a common caption highlighted on a number of oil containers in the supermarket. The consumer relies on these health claims and makes his/her purchase thinking that they have bought a 'healthy' product. In fact this term is misleading and mostly used as a marketing gimmick. Its like calling sugarcane juice "fat-free" or "100% natural".


Here are the facts:

1. No oils from vegetable sources have cholesterol. Only animal fats have cholesterol eg. butter, lard, eggs etc.

2. Though vegetable oils are Cholesterol free, it doesn't mean that you can let your food swim in it. Moderation is the key.

3.Body is capable of making the cholesterol (it is required by the body) it needs.

There is no need to buy an oil blend which has grand health claims on its package. You can just go by your choice.

To do:
Change the type of oil (groundnut, sunflower, soybean, mustard, safflower, coconut, canola, cottonseed etc.) used every few months. This practice has been found to be beneficial for heart health.

Monday, October 10, 2011

5 reasons for eating more whole foods

'Whole foods' is one of the commonest term used these days. For all practical purposes it means those foods which (more or less) are in their original form.

Why eat whole foods?

1. More nutrients: Minimal processing ensures that they retain more choose Whole wheat flour over refined flour and parboiled rice over basmati.

2. Have more fibre: It is beneficial for the gut health. It normalizes bowel movement. Eat raw salad vegetables like carrots, radish, lettuce, beet root, spring onions etc.

3. Good thermic effect: More energy is needed to digest them than required for refined foods. Have negative calorie vegetables like cucumber, lauki (bottle gourd), turai (ridge gourd), falli (beans), capsicum, tinda etc.

4. Provide satiety at a lower calories: If you eat whole foods they'll fill you up in lesser calories as compared to refined foods. Also they take longer digestion time and thus you feel full for a longer period of time. Therefore they stay in your gut for a longer time preventing hunger pangs. Eg. Oats, wheat/bajra daliya (porriage) etc.

5. Loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants: Raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with beneficial phytonutrients which protects the body from free radicals.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fats- some facts

Fats is one of the essential nutrients required by our body. Here is quick view about what fats in the market are all about.

Vegetable oils- these are liquid at room temperature like til/sesame, soyabean, nariyal/coconut, sarson/musturd, sunflower, Jaitoon/olive, mungfali/peanut

Animal fat- fish oil, butter and ghee (yes, all dairy products are included in animal products)

Hydrogenation- a process by which liquid oil is changed to solid fat. Basically turns it into trans fat or 'bad fats'. Please avoid as far as possible. These include Dalda, vegetable ghee, margarine

Saturated fats- These are present in animal fats or made from vegetable fats by the hydrogenation process. eg. Ghee/clarified butter, butter, dalda, vegetable ghee(made by hydrogenation), margarine

Unsaturated fats - These are liquid at room temperature. eg. vegetable oils or fish oil

Monounsaturated fat- It's a good fat. Try looking for MUFA on the pack. It helps in controlling blood cholesterol levels.

Polyunsaturated fat- It's a good fat. Look for PUFA on the pack.

Cholesterol- It is present naturally only in animal fats. Our bodies make cholesterol by using the fats eaten.

Hydrogenated fat: Made from hydrogenation process. To avoid as much as possible and eliminate from our diet.

Omega-3 & omega-6 - these are polyunsaturated fats. Good for health when taken in the correct ratio of 3:1. Sources of omega-3 are:fish oil, chicken, eggs, oily fish, leafy vegetables. Sources of omega-6 are:oils like corn, sunflower, safflower

How to choose the packaged foods from the market shelf has become a tedious task with the numerous varieties available these day at the supermarket. 'What to eat' by Marion Nestle is hailed to be a guidebook of the food aisles. I came to know about it in the post by fooducate.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

4 lessons from Bollywood - reasons to Quit Alcohol

1. "daru peene se liver kharaab ho jaata hai"- Amitabh Bacchan's dialogue in Satte pe Satta

A very apt and simple statement about the effect of alcohol on liver. More people should follow this one to stay away from Alcoholic Liver disease.

2. "Phir na kehna Michael daaru pee ke danga karta hai"- Lyrics from a bollywood song

Most of the people can't "hold their drink" as the phrase goes and binge drinking leads to a more destructive scenario. In India domestic violence is a common scenario especially among the uneducated masses.

3. "main tumhare bacche ki maa banne wali hun"- Common dialogue in hindi movies.

Teenage pregnancies have seen a rise in UK due to teenage drinking. Alcohol and unprotected sex goes hand in hand. Statistics are not available for India as unmarried pregnancy is a taboo here, but rest assured, it's not uncommon.

4. "ek ke do, do ke chaar mujhko toh dikhtein hain" - lyrics from song jai jai shiv shankar

Consumption of alcohol affects your nervous system leading to vision and balance problems.

So SAY NO TO ALCOHOL in bollywood style:
"maine ek baar jo commitment kar di, uske baad main khud ki bhi nahi sunta"

(Salman in Wanted)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Foods which you can live without

1. Fizzy drinks- They have been repeatedly proven to be unhealthy. They are linked to diabetes, obesity, loss of bone density, dental decay and heart diseases. Read more about them here and here

Pic 1,
Substitutes: Lemonade, coconut water, sparkling water, plain tap water, buttermilk

2. Alcohol- Apart from being a social nuisance, it can get very addictive and come in the way of your life. It does not incur any major health benefit , in fact it dehydrates the body and affects the liver adversely when overly used.


3. French fries- Usually found in fast food joints are loaded with trans-fat (the BAD fat) barely have any nutritional value; one can definitely live without them. If you are addicted then try healthier substitutes like this one.


4. Refined flour- It is practically devoid of all the B-complex vitamins and minerals. Whole wheat flour will work in most of the recipes demanding white flour/ maida. Refined flour produce is only good for clinical conditions where one has to take low fiber diet eg. Diarrhea, inflammation in intestine, perforation, bleeding ulcers etc.


5. Sugar- Yes, each and everyone of us can live without it! Sugar is just refined carbohydrate which we have developed a fondness for. Spare yourself and your teeth by saying NO to candies, sugar lollies, toffees, bubble gums, sweet drinks and avoiding all sugary items as far as possible.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bugs (bunny) life!

I love cartoons and bugs bunny has to be one of the most likeable characters ever. But why are we talking about cartoons on a health blog? ? ? and why Bugs bunny?

Simply because, he's one of the best role model for a healthy  lifestyle.

Learn from Bugs bunny

1. Be super active- try baseball, basketball, dancing, even surfing! Just be physically active everyday.

2. Snack smart- Ever seen bugs snacking on doughnut? ? Go for low cal snacks like carrots.

5. Laugh a lot

6. Relax - You need the rest. It improves mood and performance.
So have fun and stay fit like Bugs bunny!!

Pic 1Pic 2; Pic 3; Pic4

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping teeth healthy- easy steps

Do you know that bacterial action continues upto 30 min. after you have finished your meal ??

Since we all cannot spare time to brush after every meal or snack, here are a few easy tips to combat tooth decay.

1) Get a dental check-up every year- You'll know how much help you require. You might trap the cavity before it goes bad.

2) Rinse mouth thoroughly with water after every meal.

3) Floss once a day, preferably before sleeping at night. Flossing help reduce the bacterial action at night when saliva production is low.

4) Brush your teeth twice a day preferably after meals.

[Note: Person already using fluoridated water should avoid fluoridated toothpaste - excess fluoride can cause mottling.]

5) Use a mouthwash regularly.

Remember the anti-plaque force!

6) Have a healthy diet.

7) Allow yourself some sunlight (about 15 min. in the morning) to get some Vit. D. Without actually eating!!

8) Don't smoke or chew tobacco- They remove the protective layer of the teeth.

Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prevent tooth decay

Most of us have visited the dentist at some point or the other while growing up. Quite a few of us have got our cavities filled too! Oral hygiene is stressed upon but diet of the person is equally important.

A sensible diet can make dentist's visit a routine check-up instead of an ordeal. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Have sufficient vit. D, calcium and phosphorus (good for bones will be good for teeth) in your diet.

2. Snack smart- Eat less sugary snacks. Eg. Vegetable salads, bhutta (fire roasted corn cob), plain or salted lemonade, unsweetened milk, roasted nuts, cucumber salad, boiled eggs, cheese crackers, apple, pears , sprouts salad or carrot sticks.

3. Include meat and dairy in your diet. A high protein diet is often good source of minerals.

4. Reduce the intake of Phytic acid (present in grains and reduces the absorption of minerals) by soaking, sprouting and fermenting.
Note: even though oats are high in Phytic acid, the rolled oats available in the market are processed to remove it.

5. You can chew sugarless gum or Indian household mukhwaas like toasted fennel seeds- they help salivation which keeps bacteria at bay.

6. Avoid foods that cling on to the tooth viz. sticky sweet gums or chewing gums, hard candies, lollipops, chewable candies, potato chips, raisins, fries, cookies, cakes etc.

7. Avoid energy drinks & colas. They contain acids which enhance tooth decay. If you consume one, rinse your mouth immediately afterwards.

8. Avoid sugary nibbles- Have the whole dessert in one go(preferably with meals) instead of taking small helpings throughout the day. Tooth decay is hastened if continuously exposed to damaging foods (even in smaller amounts).

9. Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco - Tobacco causes tooth decay and stains apart from being the major reason of oral cancer.

Remember: What you eat affects your teeth!

For additional info, watch this space. Queries are invited.

Pic 1

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gluten free diet

Gluten free diet has been in the news, as is evident by its popularity with the hollywood celebrities and with the emerging labeling trend on the packaged foods (its still new in India). It has become somewhat of a fad-diet too for all types of food allergies.

What is Gluten free diet?

Gluten is a part of the grain protein (mainly found in Wheat, rye, jowar/barley, buckwheat and sometimes jai/oats). A diet free of all these grains and their products is known as gluten free diet.

Who needs to follow this diet?

People suffering from Celiac disease, Non- tropical sprue or Gluten sensitive enteropathy need to follow this diet. They are allergic to the alcohol soluble portion of gluten (called gliadin) which triggers an immune reaction leading to intestinal damage, thus affecting nutrient absorption. A person sensitive to gluten, needs to avoid these grains and their products (usually for life) because even a small amount can make them very sick.

Being a Celiac in India
Its often a blow to those who can't imagine that they will not be able to eat roti (the staple indian flatbread, usually made from wheat flour). But all is not lost, many options are available for Indians locally.

Natural Gluten free foods
Rice - rice flakes, rice flour; Bajra ; Ragi; Corn flour(makai atta); Pulses/dhals of all kinds as well as besan; Soy; Sago (sabudana);Eggs ; Milk and dairy products; Fruits & vegetables (all kinds; oils and fats; meat & poultry etc.

Things to remember

1. Avoid wheat or maida (white flour) based products eg. Pasta, semolina (suji), bread, paav, pizza, buns, cakes etc.
2. Never mix or store gluten free foods with other foods.
3. Be aware of how a food is made/processed. Eg. Gulabjamun, Jalebi, Ladoos etc. have gluten in them.
4. Read labels at all times. The labeling of food as Gluten free means that it will have no more than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten in the food. Avoid a packaged product with the following things listed in the ingredients like:

a) Modified food starch
b) Caramel colour
c) Malt
d) Bleached wheat flour
e) Dried soy sauce
f) Hydrolyzed wheat protein
g) Maida (All purpose flour)

Oh! and yes, it doesn't have any benefits for a normal person, so no need to jump on the wagon to be like a celebrity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Smartest way to stay slim

I was a chubby girl all through my childhood and teen years while my brother failed to fatten up. He used to spend more time with his plate ; yet he did not get fat? Why me?

Later on, I realized that he just used to chew his food more. For a meal which I finished in 15 minutes he sat for twice the time. Smart guy!

I know now, that the body signal from the stomach which says to your brain "I'm full" reaches there in 20 min.; enough time to gorge on a lot of calories. This gap is covered easily just by chewing your food well and helps to keep excess calorie intake in check. It also helps in proper digestion.

So, when the next time you have your meal, take time to relish it and chew it well.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write your own health advice

Eating healthy diet can be a task in today's hectic urban life. Here is an easy way to move surely towards a healthy lifestyle.

Keep a journal at your bedside and just write what you ate throughout the day.
Go through it, and decide on at least one thing which you would change in the coming week ( eg. Going for an evening walk, eating more fruits, being regular at the gym or just drinking more water everyday).
This way you can easily and surely make healthy lifestyle changes in just a few weeks!!

Advantages of keeping a journal
1. It'll serve as a daily remainder for making change.
2. Help identify your diet pattern, your likes & dislikes.
3. You'll be able to make a definite step by step change.
4. It also makes you aware of your unconscious choices (like drinking more coffee than required).
5. It barely takes time (10 min.)to write it all.

I believe this layout will be a help to start with.

Target of the week:




Monday, August 8, 2011

The Almighty Banana

Banana is one of the most abundant, easily available and inexpensive fruit in the Indian market. It is practically available throughout the year. This humble fruit can boast of having several health advantages. Here I list a few:

1. Keeps blood pressure in control- They have a high potassium content which is required to balance the high salts in our diets.

2. Soothe ulcers and heartburn-They have antacid properties and hence recommended for ulcers. A banana shake does wonders for the heartburn.

3. Helps to normalize your bowel movements-They are good for stool formation and are easily digested hence ripe bananas are very helpful in both diarrhea as well as constipation.

4. Combat hunger pangs- It makes you feel full but not lethargic. Way better than a bag of chips or cookies.

5. Cure hangovers- A banana and a tall glass of water takes out the sting of a hangover.

6. Makes you happy- It has known to stimulate neurotransmitters, which give you a feeling of happiness i.e. eating banana improves your mood.

7. No fuss fruit- No need to wash your hands or the fruit before consumption (as required for fruits like apple, pear etc.) ; no fussy peels like oranges ; easy to carry unlike melons, papaya, pineapple etc. Just peel it and enjoy the natural goodness.

8. Versatile- they can be consumed whole or as shakes, smoothies, ice-cream, chaat (a snack in India made of fruits and spices) etc. Raw banana is used as a vegetable in various parts of India.

Its amazing what a simple, easily and widely available fruit like banana can do for our health, but some people need to have it with caution like diabetics and kidney patients. Kindly consult your doctor / medical nutritionist before eating it.

Read more on bananas
Punchline of this article- the next time you wake up to a cloudy gloomy morning, do what monkeys do best, and grab yourself nature’s happy pill, the almighty banana!
Nutritive value of banana
For glycemic values
Pic 1

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Fruits are one of the best snacks we can have and Apple comes with scores of advantages (apart from the fact that its so crunchy, juicy and tasty).

Apple facts:

1. Apple has a low glycemic index. That means, it'll not shoot up your blood sugar levels. Perfect if you are a diabetic.

2. It has beneficial antioxidants i.e. it'll help combat ageing.

3. Its phytochemicals (non-nutrient plant compound) have protective effect against heart diseases, cancer and asthma.

4. It has pectin, which is water soluble fiber. It helps in slowing the absorption of fats from intestine and thus helps in reducing cholesterol levels.

5. It gives you an energy boost and wakes you up when you get drowsy. A very good alternative to endless cups of coffee.

6. Processing raw apples (into pie, jams, jellies etc.) affects its phytochemical content, so its best to eat it raw.

Enough reasons to have at least one apple everyday?? No...You might like to visit the links given at the end of the post.

More about apples on :
Phytochemicals in Apple

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Make your lunch healthy

We load up on oat bran in the morning so we'll live forever. Then we spend the rest of the day living like there's no tomorrow. ~Lee Iacocca

Whenever I ask someone about their diet, they tend to tell me about the most healthy thing that they do in the day like; having a healthy breakfast or having only salad in dinner.

How many of us actually pay any attention to our lunch?

Make your lunch healthy; use these easy strategies

Carry lunch from home- this helps to control the quality & amount of food you eat. One inadvertently opts for a fresh and healthier choice when one carries his/her lunchbox to work. You can make healthy mixes like dal daliya, if you know you will lack time for a proper sit down at lunch.

Eat healthy snacks- Having fruits, vegetable salad, low fat yogurt and dry fruit mix at your desk instead of cans of colas or cups of coffee will keep up your energy levels and fill you up with essential nutrients and fiber.

Have correct portions of food- Protein rich foods( dals, lentils, beans, peas, tofu, paneer etc), carbohydrate rich foods (basically breads, rice, dosa, idli, chappati etc.) with vegetables (gourds, leafy vegetables etc.) will make a good Indian meal any given day.

Avoid fried & fatty foods- these make you feel drowsy in the afternoon which makes you reach for that large coffee mug. So malai kofta, wadas, pakoras, fried chicken, tikki- chole, bhature etc. are not the choices of food you want to have.

Take time for lunch- Hurried eating leads to improper digestion and may result in bloating & flatulence. Try to fix a proper lunch time and avoid office work during lunch hour.

Pic 1, pic 2, Pic 3,pic 4

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Best snack for your day

One of my friends told me that she had this tendency of munching on junk food in between the meals. While its healthy to have between-meals snacks, it's actually counterproductive if we indulge in highly fatty, salty and sugary foods. The easiest and the best option was (and is) fruits. Fruits as snack have a multitude of advantages:

They are full of essential nutrients- From simple carbohydrates to fight off those hunger pangs to antioxidants which protect from cancer; fruits have a wide array of nutrients packed in them.

Easily available- From the street vendors to a five star hotel, fruits are available at all places.

Tasty- They are a treat for the taste buds. Sweet, sour, tangy , nutty , you name it and you get it. Not to mention that you can mix and make a fruit salad for a melody of flavours.

Guilt free snacks- With most fruits having a benefit for high fiber, dieters will not have trouble keeping their calorie intake in check.

Happy fruit snacking!!

Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3