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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lifestyle changes may help women with Gestational Diabetes

Diet and Lifestyle changes for Gestational Diabetics 
Women who have Gestational Diabetes (diabetes that occurs during their pregnancy) have been known to be at risk for diabetes later in their life. Now a new study done at 22 Kaiser Permanente mediclinics on gestational diabetics post pregnancy suggests that with proper lifestyle changes and a good weight management program they may just be able to prevent diabetes from occurring later on.
If you have or had Gestational Diabetes, it is important for you to follow a strict diet and physical activity routine not just during pregnancy but also after delivery.
With Indians known to be more at risk for diabetes and the unhealthy eating patterns that urban Indian tend to follow diabetes could be knocking at your door even before you expect. Don't wait for your that to happen and then look for a diet and lifestyle change. Get healthy now and you could just prevent diabetes from happening to you.
Here's are 3 simple steps to a new healthy you (Both during and post-pregnancy)
1)Eat right-don't overeat, you don't really need to eat for two. You just need to eat the right foods in the right amount.
2)Be active: Unless your doctor has put you on bed rest, there is no reason why you cannot be active. The least you can do is walk everyday.
3)Drink lots of fluids: The last thing you want is to be constipated. Both pregnancy and lactation requires increased fluid intake and what drink can be better than water.

Check out our Women's Health Packages that can be tailor-made keeping you, your health problems and you eating habits in mind: Women's Health Packages at

How to lose 1 pound (half a kg) of body weight every week by eating a Healthy Indian Diet

Are you planning on turning a new leaf this New Year? Are you looking forward to discovering the new Healthy You? If you've tried it every year and given up at the end of January-then trust me, there's NOTHING wrong with you! It's just that you haven't found the right way to get healthy. This year, take the right steps, do the right things and make this the "Year Of the New You".
Here are 9 simple steps to start off:
  1. Get up and move: Choose and start a physical activity or fitness program that you enjoy. It could be as simple as a brisk walk, a jog, aerobics, gym workout or a sport. Ideally something that keeps you on your toes for at least an hour every day. 'Sitting is the new smoking' these days-so keep moving! Your new mantra should be 'Calories in and Calories out'-burn out the calories that you eat!
  2. Detox or declutter your kitchen pantry: Remove all the chips, bhujias, ghatias, sweets,cakes, chocolates and all the unhealthy foods from your fridge and pantry. It's going to be out with the old and in with the new foods this year! If there are no tempting foods in your reach, you will end up not eating them.
  3. Stock up with 'real food': Once you have all the high-calories and ready to eat processed foods out of the house, buy lots of fruits, vegetables and ingredients that you need to make dishes from scratch.
  4. Always include a vegetable and a protein source: Make sure you eat at least one vegetable (more is better) at every meal and add some protein to add satiety. Protein foods keep you full for a longer period of time and the vegetable will reduce the amount of grain/cereal you have. Examples: Upma with vegetables and curd, poha with vegetables and curd, sambar with vegetables. If you can't add a vegetable-then add a fruit.
  5. Avoid sugary drinks and sweets: A little bit of halwa, a little bit of chocolate, a little bit of ice cream, a little bit of soft drink makes you pack on the pounds! 
  6. Buy a water bottle: Yes, that's right-a water bottle. Most of us forget to drink water through the day. Buy a big 1 litre water bottle (BPA free) and fill it up. Take it with you and you'll never have to buy packaged water or soft drinks when you feel thirsty. Make sure you drink two bottles of water by the end of the day.
  7. Set timings for your meals: Don't eat whenever you feel hungry-set regular meal timings. This helps in getting into a regular meal pattern and also does away with hunger attacks. This will reduce cravings and binge eating.
  8. Eat dinner two hours before bedtime: Eating too close to bedtime is a definite no-no! It not only interferes with your sleep pattern, but also makes you sluggish and susceptible to heart burn (acid reflux) in the night.
  9. Get eight hours of sleep: Researchers have now found a link between a lack of sleep and obesity. This is one simple thing which will go a long way in your journey of a new healthy you.
Once you have mastered these seven steps, then you can take the next most important step-find the right diet plan which has been tailor made for YOU. Check out this article- How To Choose the Right Indian Diet Plan for a Healthy Weight loss?

Also check out my website and pick a package that is suitable for you: My Indian Dietitian

Monday, January 4, 2016

How to Choose the Right Indian Diet Plan for Healthy Weight Loss?

Have you made your New Year's resolution to lose weight and are looking for the right Indian Diet plan for healthy weight loss? Then here is the checklist of what you should look for before signing up for it.

  1. Do they plan Indian Diet Plans for Healthy weight loss? This is most important especially if you are living outside India. If you sign up without finding this out you will be stuck with a fantastic diet plan or package but which is of no use for you since the foods are all Western! Let's face it-we may live abroad, love the Western lifestyle and the amenities that is offered there, but at the end of the day, we still want to eat our 'desi khaana". Akhir dil hain Hindustani!! 
  2. Is there a real dietitian or are you expected to interact with a computer? No really-think about it!! Why pay for a computer generated diet chart?
  3. Check the credentials of the person: With every Tom,Dick and Harry giving out diet advice these days, you need to be careful about who you sign up with. Look for a qualified dietitian who has worked at least a couple of years in a hospital. Most dietitians who have worked in a hospital know the dangers of crash dieting and are vary about prescribing the same to clients.
  4. Do they recommend fad diets? Some websites push fad diets (fruit diet, juice diet, GM diet,Cabbage diet ) to show immediate results. But remember-these results don't last. Not only that, there is a danger of nutritional deficiencies and severe hair loss after sometime. Do you really want that? Or would do you want something that helps you keep the weight off forever? It's your choice-but it's your body that will pay for what you choose!
  5. Are the Indian Diets planned for you or are they chosen from previously printed plans? Diets need to be planned, not printed off the internet. It's like going to the doctor and getting a check-up and by google. Would you really do that? You want something that is specific to you-one size does not fit all in the case of diets!! So don't be fooled by websites who take money to dole out pre-planned diet charts.
  6. Will the weight loss Indian diet be planned according to your eating habits? Again what's the point of eating something which you are not used to eating? For example-if you are a South Indian and the diet planned is a typically North Indian diet. It's just not right for you. 
  7. Will there be follow-ups? You need to have your diet reviewed basically to see how you are doing on it and if any changes are required.
If this is exactly what you want, then do get intouch with me to schedule an appointment as the first step to a new, heathy, YOU!!
 Click to go to choose the right Indian Diet Plan for Healthy weight loss: My Indian Dietitian

6 Healthier, Lighter Recipes of Your Favourite Indian Foods

Indian food has some of the most sinfully delicious dishes that it makes you crave for more. Most of these dishes are so rich that it makes you feel sluggish for the rest of the day. So what if you could make lighter and healthier versions of the same dishes which you could enjoy and still go about your day without feeling guilty.
Here are some healthy Indian food recipes that you can try out and enjoy (portion control is still a must). (Click on the name of the recipe to go to the page)
1)Healthy Palak Paneer recipe: Make it a low-calorie version, but don't compromise on the taste by using low-fat milk and wholewheat flour (atta) to make it creamy. You can substitute the paneer with tofu, chickpeas or even chicken. Enjoy this with some hot phulkas or rice and dal.
2) Healthy Dal Makhani recipe: The makhani in this title is misleading as there is absolutely no makkhan (butter), no cream used in this recipe. Just removing that brings down the net calories in this recipe-and the low-fat milk adds the creaminess to the dish. Enjoy this with a plate of rice ,a side of veggies and some salad.
3)Healthy Chicken Biryani recipe: A healthier version of the delicious Indian Chicken Biryani made by using very little oil and some mixed veggies to increase the vegetable and fibre intake. If veggies in your biryani isn't your cup of tea-then you could always avoid them, but we are thinking about health here people!! 
4)Healthy Kotthu Paratha recipe: Yes, you can make this healthy by using your regular phulkas (wholewheat/Atta) instead of the parathas made with maida and oodles of butter and oil! Once mixed with the chicken/egg you honestly won't know that it is a healthier version of the Kotthu Paratha.
5)Healthy Ragda Patties/ Healthy Alu tikki chaat recipe: Use rava/semolina to coat the tikki/patties and shallow fry or bake the tikkis. The rava ensures that the tikki doesn't absorb oil like those made with bread crumbs.
6) Healthy Tandoori chicken recipe/ Healthy tandoori fish recipe: Tandoori food should actually be healthy as they are baked. By not using oil and food colour in the marinade, it actually becomes all the more healthy.
Remember that too much of even the healthy foods can be bad for you. If you are interested in knowing how to get an Indian Weight Loss Diet chart do contact me an we can work on a tailor-made diet chart for you. Check out my Website: