Thursday, April 28, 2016

Watermelon Salsa (Watermelon fruit chaat)

Summer time is watermelon time- a perfect fruit to include in your diet on a hot summers day. There are so many ways to eat it and one of my favorite is to make a quick and yummy salad-the watermelon salsa!

Fresh Watermelon Salsa: 
Fresh Watermelon and Mango Salsa
Watermelon:1/2 cubed 
Onion: 1 small (finely chopped) 
Tomato: 1 small (finely chopped) 
Coriander leaves: 3-4tbsp (finely chopped) 
Lime juice: 2 tsp 
Green chilies: 1 (finely chopped) 
Salt: to taste 

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Chill before serving. 

You can add some chaat masala for an Indian twist. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Diet Mantras: Three Words to Eliminate to be Successful in Following a Diet....

How To Succesfully Follow A Diet

Almost everyone has tried to "go on a diet" or "is on a diet" or is planning to "go on a diet"! But very few are able to stick to it and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Why does this happen? Why do people "stop dieting'? Why isn't everyone able to succeed ?
Being successful in anything takes a lot of hard work, dedication and planning. The same goes with sticking with a diet or rather changing to a healthy lifestyle.
According to Bernard Roth, a professor of engineering at Stanford University changing a few words could be the answer to being successful.  Let's try and put the same theory to being successful in following a diet or lifestyle change and maybe it might help you to be more healthy.
In his new book "The Achievement Habit", Prof. Roth suggests two verbal tweaks that could change the way you think about the world and in doing so become successful in life.
He suggests that:
 Instead of Saying 
 Use the Word
 Have to
 Want to

Let's try to use it in the usual 'dieting parlance':
1)Instead of saying : I have a party to attend, but I'm on a diet
Say: I have a party to attend and I'm on a diet.

According to Prof Roth-using the word 'but' just creates a conflict or a reason for something that actually doesn't exist. By replacing it with 'and' you remove the conflict and simply find a solution to do both. Maybe you'll chose to eat something before going to the party or chose wisely or control the portion size at the party. Here are a couple of articles that can help you to choose wisely and enjoy the party while still not going overboard as far as your diet is concerned:

2) Instead of saying: I have to diet.
Say: I want to diet!
Again, this subtle word swap helps in realizing that what you chose to do, even if they are difficult, are in fact what you have chosen to do for a healthier life.

3)Along with these two, it would also help is if you could swap the word "diet" for "lifestyle change".
A 'diet' brings a mental image of a very restrictive, boring and unappetizing foods which doesn't in anyway help you in sticking to it. A lifestyle change sounds so much better and incorporates not just changes in what you eat but also includes other factors like physical activity that will together change the quality of your life.
So instead of saying:have to go on a diet.
Say: I want to change my lifestyle.

Make these 3 swaps and you could be on your way to leading a healthier life!

Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Exercise When the Weather is Bent on Being a Spoilsport

Don't let the weather be an excuse for not exercising. 

After the long, hot summer months, the monsoon rains bring much needed relief from the heat. The rains, which are a welcome change, can spell the end for outdoor exercises for all health enthusiasts. The rains or even the snow also tend to bring to the table steaming teas along with hot ‘pakoras’.
So how does one take care of the diet and exercise during with all these hurdles?
Here are some tips to help you continue your weight loss journey:
  • Outsmart the rains/snow and join a gym/aerobics/yoga/dance class. Since these are conducted indoors, the rains are highly unlikely to hamper your fitness plans!
  • Invest in some exercise machines like the treadmill/elliptical/exer-cycle and burn those calories without having to leave your home (make sure to exercise otherwise you’ll end up using them to dry your wet clothes)!
  • If joining a gym/exercise class or buying exercise equipment isn’t too friendly on your pocket-then pick up some exercise DVD’s or surf the internet for exercises that you can do at home.
  • Keep yourself active-take the stairs whenever possible, jog inside the house, do simple home exercises.
Doing this will keep your metabolism from slowing down.
  • Avoid binging on fried foods (pakoras, chips, namkeens, samosas,etc) as far as possible. Moderation is the key word here.
  • Snack on the grilled buttas/makkai/corn that seem to pop up everywhere with the rains. Nothing smells better than corn being roasted over hot coals on a rainy day, besides the fiber makes it an excellent healthy snack.
  • Eat light meals and keep yourself hydrated by drinking loads of water.
Precautions: A word of caution as the monsoons also brings with it the dangers of waterborne diseases like cholera, jaundice, typhoid and diarrhea.
Here are some tips to avoid falling sick this monsoon:
  • Drink only boiled/ bottled water. Carry a bottle of water from home to avoid drinking water from unsafe sources.
  • All vegetables and fruits should be washed well in clean water especially those that are consumed raw. Avoid eating salads and cut fruits, juices,golas and chaats from the street vendors.
  • Eat home cooked meals as far as possible. If it isn’t feasible at all times, then opt for cooked meals like roti/chawal with sabzi/dal. Avoid sandwiches, raitas, salads, which can contain raw vegetables.
  • With these simple precautions you can prevent yourself from falling sick which will end up as another excuse for not exercising.
Just keep in mind that the monsoon season is no excuse for NOT exercising.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

5 Ways to Eat and Yet be Able to Lower Your Cholesterol (What Indian foods to eat to Lower Cholesterol levels?)

What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

"You are what you eat"-you probably have heard your doctor tell you this umpteen number of times. Well, it is true. Sadly, today we 'eat what our taste buds like' rather than 'eat what the body needs'. This results in a number of lifestyle diseases like obesity, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, hypertension or strokes. 
Hyperlipidaemia or elevated lipid (fat) levels which was seen more in people over the age of 40, is now commonly seen in younger age groups and even some obese kids in the urban areas. This is something that can be easily prevented and/or reversed by eating a healthy balanced diet and plenty of physical activity.
What foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? This is one of  the two questions that I am asked the most (the other being  "What to eat to reduce weight?") by those whose cholesterol levels are higher than normal. Most people that I have counselled have been able to reduce their cholesterol levels by just eating the right foods and choosing to do some kind of exercise on a regular basis. Here are 4 simple tips to follow if you want to lower your cholesterol through your diet:
What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

1)Eat your sabzi and phal (veggies and fruit): Your mom was right-all those years of nagging you to eat your vegetables and fruits and see what happens when you stop? That's right-all the bhindi (okra), beans(green beans), gobi(cabbage), phool gobi (cauliflower),kaddu (pumpkin),karela(bitter gourd) basically all veggies are good for you so long as you don't overcook them or drown them in oil. 
Why?Fruits and vegetables both contain loads of vitamins, minerals, are low in calories and have the most important nutrient for reducing cholesterol- fibre. Soluble fibre has long been known to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, among other benefits. So make sure you eat a variety of vegetables that are in season.
How much to eat? At least one cup of sabzi (cooked veggies) and a salad at every meal and two fruits(not juice) a day. 
2)Switch to whole grains: If you've been eating white rice, white bread, maida(refined flour), instant oats then it's time to switch over to brown/red rice or parboiled rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, dalia (broken wheat), regular/rolled or steel cut oats and whole wheat pasta. Try including new whole grains like , barley, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), ragi/nachni (a staple in the Southern states like Karnataka, AP). 
Why? Researchers have noticed a significantly lower risk of chronic heart disease (CHD) in those who consume whole grains on a regular basis. Again whole grains contain nutrients like minerals, antioxidants, lignans other phytochemicals and fibre that are lost when they are refined or processed by humans to increase the shelf life or to cook faster. In the process of saving time and money we end up with a product which has very few nutrients. Moreover the fibre in whole grains tends to fill you up and you end up eating less foods which means you get fewer calories.
How much to eat? Controlling portion sizes as suggested by your dietitian is very important.You'll soon realize that you not only eat less, but also don't feel hungry because of the fibre, which is actually a good thing. 
3)Limit bad fats: Unhealthy or bad fats like butter, ghee, vanaspati(trans-fat) and full fat milk and milk products need to be avoided or taken in restricted amounts. Switch to cold pressed oils which are made without chemicals or heat whenever possible. These include extra virgin olive, peanut, sunflower, sesame oils that are cold pressed. The second choice would be olive, canola, sesame, sunflower, peanut oil for cooking and canola oil for baking.
Why? The bad fats can increase your cholesterol and over a period of time clog your arteries. Good fats like omega 3's on the other hand can do the opposite and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How much to eat? Just enough. Though they may be termed as good fats, they still have the same calories as the bad fat. That means if your food is swimming in 'good oil' it still can't be good for your body.
4)Include Omega 3 rich foods: There are two varieties of Omega 3: seafood that provide EPA (Eicosapentoenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and plant based foods that provide ALA (Alphalinolenic acid) .Oily fish like sardines (Tarle in Marathi, Kavala in Telugu, Mathi in Malayalam), Mackerel (Bangade in Kannada, Marathi, Aiyla in Malayalam), Salmon, tuna, anchovies(Bolenjaru in Kannada/Tulu, Natholi in Malayalam) are rich in EPA.  Vegetarians can choose from plant based APA rich foods like flaxseeds (Alsi in hindi/marathi, agase beeja in Kannada), walnuts (akharot in hindi), canola and soy oil, soybeans, soy nuggets, soy milk and tofu. Green leafy vegetables and omega 3 eggs (eggs from chickens fed a omega rich diet) also contain smaller amounts of omega 3.
Why? EPA and DHA have shown to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure and plaque buildup. In addition they could also reduce inflammation, the risk of strokes and certain cancers. ALA on the other hand needs to be converted to EPA and DHA in the body and researchers believe that this reduces the amount of omega 3 that is available. 
How much to eat? Include oily fish in your diet at least twice a week but make sure that you don't deep fry them. Fish curries, steamed fish or even grilled/baked fish will give you the most health benefits. Fish oil capsules are a great alternative for people who may not be able to eat fish on a regular basis. The vegetarian sources can be included on a daily basis.
5)Eat to live: You don't have to change your diet completely. Include foods that are good for you and remove foods that you know are unhealthy.  Get a dietitian to plan a diet keeping your likes and dislikes in mind. Your chances of sticking to a diet that is planned for you is much more than one that your neighbour is following!
Why? Because years of regularly eating the unhealthy foods are showing in your health reports and it's a signal to change.
How much to eat? Everything in moderation is the mantra. Too much of even the good foods can be bad sometimes-so try not to go overboard and stick to portion sizes.

For help in custom planning an Indian diet for lowering cholesterol-check out my 'Healthy Heart Packages: Heart Healthy Diet Plans

What Indian foods to eat to reduce cholesterol? 

How to Keep Food Safe During a Power Outage

It's bad enough being stuck in a snow storm, tornado or cyclone but to have a power outage along with that is like putting salt on your wounds. People are usually well prepared to face a storm with extra food, water, flashlights, candles but they often tend to forget about the food kept in the fridge and freezer.
While non-perishable foods will keep well when left outside, the perishable foods like milk, cheese, poultry, meat and left overs will become a breeding ground for pathogens if it is kept above 4C (40F) for more than 2 hours. To prevent food borne diseases follow these simple tips:
1) When you get to know about the storm or blizzard make sure to set your fridge at it's coldest setting.
2) Move all the perishables like milk, and leftovers to the back of the fridge or into the freezer.
3)Keep coolers, ice packs and extra ice blocks ready .
4)During the power outage stack the food closer to each other both in the fridge and the freezer. Closely packed food tend to keep cold longer.
5)Keep meat,poultry on trays or ziplock pouches in the freezer to avoid the drippings from contaminating other foods in case it does thaw out.
6)Keep the fridge and freezer doors closed to keep the cold trapped inside.
7)If the power outage is for more than 4 hours, then put the ice-blocks into the coolers and move the food into that.
Keep in mind that without power the fridge will keep cold for just 4 hours while the freezer (if it is full) will most likely keep for about 48 hours.
Discard any food that has been stored above 40F (or 4C) for more than two hours. If the food smells bad, has changed in colour, texture or if you simply are in doubt-then throw it away. Better to be safe than sorry.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Indians and the Risks of Consuming a High Sugar Diet

Sugar is present in a variety of foods not just sweets

A spoonful of sugar........makes the calories sit on your waist!! Are you noticing that you are slowly gaining weight even though you aren't eating junk food? Sugar might be the culprit.Have you ever given a thought to how much sugar you consume in a day?
We Indians consume way too much sugar every day without realizing the health problems associated with it. The general mindset is "eat and drink today for we are healthy" as a result of which tomorrow you will end up with a host of health problems!
Many of us associate sugar control to diabetes and believe that if they are not diabetic then they do not need to keep a watch on the sugar intake. This is not true. Diabetics definitely need to be more cautious as it tends to increase their blood glucose levels but non-diabetics also need to curb excessive sugar consumption.
This brings us to the question: Is sugar such a terrible food that we need to take it in limited amounts? The answer is that anything in excess is not good.
Here's what you need to know about sugar:

  • Nutritionally the only thing you get when you eat sugar is just calories (1 tsp/5g of sugar=19 calories). It has no other nutrients unlike a nutrient dense food like say for example nuts. Nuts will give you protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre and good fats (polyunsaturated) along with calories. These kind of foods are called nutrient-rich foods whereas candy and sugar are classified as nutrient poor foods.
  • More often than not, we tend to choose a sugary snack or drink instead of a fruit or other healthy foods and end up piling up on calories. This can lead to  dental caries and weight gain, which then increases the risk for other health problems like certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes among others.Considering that Indians are at a greater risk of developing diabetes, this higher consumption combined with the resulting weight gain could trigger it off at a much earlier age. 
  • Eating a sugary snack fills you up for that moment, but since there isn't much fibre you end up feeling hungry again. This results in another snack which just increases your calorie count without offering your body other nutrients.
Most people feel that they don't eat too much because they rarely add sugar to anything. But what they don't realize is that while they might not add sugar into foods, they do have foods that already have sugar. Everyday foods and drinks like tea,coffee, biscuits, juice, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, jams, ketchup, ice creams, cakes and other sweets all have sugar. What we don't realize is the amount of sugar in these-a can of soft drink/aerated drink easily contains 8-10 teaspoons, while your tea or coffee can have anything to 3-4 teaspoons. Add these through the day and you could easily be having anywhere close to 20-25 teaspoons per day!! That's a whole lot.
Should we avoid sugar completely or is there a cut-off range? How much sugar?
While there is no need to completely avoid sugar, there is no safe range either. The WHO (World Health Organisation) and the American Heart Association recommend limiting sugar intake to:
Men= 9 teaspoons or less
Women= 6 teaspoons or less
Preschoolers= 3 teaspoons
4-8 years= 4 teaspoons
9-Teenagers=5-6 teaspoons

How much sugar do you consume? Keep a note-if it is over the recommendations, then you need to reduce it.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Which is the BEST day to check your weight?

How Weekends may be the Key Factor in making you Lose or Gain weight

Do you get depressed at seeing your weight fluctuate every day? Don't panic-it's just a pretty normal phenomenon.
Researchers have now found out that the body goes through a weight cycle. This weight loss cycle or weekly weight rhythms is somewhat similar to the REM cycles (Rapid Eye Movement) during sleep. Researchers from Cornell University along with VTT Research Centre of Finland looked into what a seven-day-a week human cycle has on their weights.
They found a definite pattern in weight gain and weight loss according to the day of the week .Not surprisingly, the most weight gain among the participants was seen on Sunday and Monday. After that the weight tapered down to the lowest being on Fridays!
This only goes to prove that weight fluctuations through the week is a normal phenomenon among everyone and there is no need to panic.
Which is the BEST day to check your weight?
For weight watchers this is a also a good point to keep in mind and instead of checking weight every single day, to just check on one particular day of the week. The best day would be Friday-so keep Fridays as your weight check days.