Thursday, July 2, 2020

It’s Time to Spring Clean…. your diet!!!

It’s Time to Spring Clean…. your diet!!!
This article of mine was published in INDUS Age a local Indian Newspaper in Syndey. You can read the article here: Spring Clean your Diet

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to clean up…your diet!! That’s right,
it’s high time you took charge of your health and got it back on the right track by
making little changes in the way you eat and of course by being more active.
Eating according to the season is as popular among Indians as it is in the rest of the
world. Not many can resist sinking their teeth into hot parathas or makki di rotti
with dollops of butter along with the traditional sarson da saag and rounding it off
with some delicious carrot halwa made with oodles of desi ghee. Traditionally,
Indian foods eaten during winter make use of the seasonal vegetables available
around that time. The liberal use of ghee or butter, nuts, milk and milk products is
also associated with winter as the extra fat is believed to keep the body warm. Add
to this the fact that the cold weather restricts a lot of outdoor activities while on the
other hand it brings on a lot more of get-togethers and parties and before you know
it; you are packing in the pounds!
If you just stepped on the scales and noticed that you have indeed gained weight
through the winter, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. Researchers feel
that the cravings for high-calorie foods are a natural response of the body to the
cold so that the body can get extra layer of fat as a protection to the cold. While
times have changed and humans now live in a world where we can control the
temperature indoors, the body has yet to change its ways! Nevertheless, it’s never
too late to change your diet and spring is the perfect time to make all the changes.
So this year along with spring cleaning your houses, do yourself a favour by spring
cleaning your diet too!!
While most people wish that they could just sit and use a magic wand and wish the
extra kilos to disappear into thin air, getting rid of those ‘love handles’ is going to
take a lot of will power and a little more of moving about! A healthy outlook, a
sense of portion control and at least half an hour (if not more) of physical activity
can result in the extra body fat melting by the time it is summer.
For spring cleaning your diet we need to start with literally cleaning your fridge,
kitchen pantry, recipe books and your grocery cart of all the high calorie foods and
snacks like:
  • chivdas, farsans, bhujias, chips,
  • samosas, pakodas, bajji’s, vadas, fafdas, pizzas, burgers,
  • halwas,gulabjamoons, jalebis,
  • butter chicken, Paneer butter masala, malaikoftas, dal makhani and creamy soups or curries,
  • pooris, oily parathas, oily dosas
Once you’ve made space by weeding out all the unhealthy stuff, you can replace
them with all the healthy foods. If you have not already experimented with whole
grains, now would be a great time to do so. Eating all those halwas, bhaturas and
pooris made of maida and soaked in oil can make the digestive system sluggish
due to the lack of fibre in refined flours. Rather than buying ready-made multi-
grain atta (which may not necessarily be made from whole grains) make your own
multi-grain attas (mix whole wheat atta with other whole grain flours like
ragi/nacchini, bajra or jowar or even soy) for your roti’s or chapathis .This will not
only give you the much needed fibre but also extra nutrients like B vitamins and
minerals. If rice is a part of your staple diet, then you can experiment using brown
rice or red rice (rose matta) or even boiled rice as this is more nutritious than
polished white rice. Brown rice has a wonderful nutty flavour that goes well with
gravies or curries. Later on you could start including other whole grains like oats,
barley, quinoa and even dalia (broken wheat).
Warmer weather brings loads of vegetables and fruits that are less dense and
contain more water like grapefruits, oranges and later the berries, cherries,
cucumbers and watermelons which help in keeping the body hydrated. Eating
seasonally and locally grown vegetables and fruits is not only cheaper but also
more nutritious, not to mention tastier! In Australia, spring is the season for
vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, silverbeet, palak, peas, cabbage,
cauliflower and mushroom most of which can easily be incorporated into desi
subzi’sor curries. Warmer weather is also a signal for cooking lighter meals and
including more salads, fruits, curd and chaas (buttermilk) in the diet. To keep the
meals light, keep a tight control on the quantity of oil used for every dish and
remember that where oil is concerned “less is more”!! Include foods in the menu
that are made by healthier cooking methods like steaming, stir-frying, grilling or
sautéing. Keeping hunger pangs at bay by eating three balanced meals and two
healthy snacks in between the meals will go a long way in avoiding food cravings.
Some ideas for healthy snacks that can be eaten in between meals are:
 Fruits
 Fruit chaat or fruit bowl (without added sugar/honey)
 Grilled tofu/paneer kebabs
 Baked falafel with hummus
 Sautéed asparagus with mint raita
 Steamed corn
 Sprouts/channachaat or boiled pulses shoondal/ usal
 Dhoklas or khandvi
Keep in mind that portion control is a very important part of eating healthy.
Overeating even on the healthiest of foods can still make the calories add up easily.
To give you a general idea of how easy it is to get your diet back on track have a
look at a day’s diet that is great for spring:
Early Morning: Warm water or Tea/coffee
Breakfast:Idli with sambar and chutney + Papaya
Mid-morning: Buttermilk and Orange
Lunch: Brown rice + Dal palak + Cabbage and peas sabzi
Tomato and cucumber salad +curd
Teatime: Tea/ coffee + steamed corn (no butter)
Dinner:Phulkas + broccoli sabzi
Moong dal + carrot raita+ Strawberries
try to use as little oil and sugar as possible for the whole day)
Once the diet is taken care of, you need to take care of the other important factor
for healthy living-physical activity. If joining a gym to workout is not your cup of
tea, you can keep yourself active by simple activities like brisk walking, jogging,
cycling or even swimming. For those who aren’t averse to sweating it out at the
gym, the best way to make sure that you get there would be to take a full years’
membership. Whatever means of physical activity you choose, do make sure that
you get your doctors approval before starting.
After you’ve made the effort of ‘spring cleaning your diet and lifestyle’, make sure
you stick to it to see the many long-term benefits of incorporating a healthy
Thank you all for your support and feedback.
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