To Keto or not to Keto, Anupama, India

“Large raw naked carrots are acceptable as food to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter” – Fran Lebowitz

And so is food dear to most of us. The only time we want it to hoodwink us is when a bad word called “diet” makes an entry onto our stage. “It’s lifestyle my boy”, change it, you’ve eaten enough, now get a taste of health too.

The earth has borne enough excess weight and will continue to do so and so will diets and their different strains continue to grow and be dissected for the roots they grow outside of them and the spine inside. What we discover will lead us to gravitate towards some and be vary of the others. Nothing is different with the Keto Diet. Hugely popular and scandalous to the core, it’s worth a peep into the anatomy of the Keto!

“Zero down grains, flours to a nil, restrict carbohydrates to 20 gms a day (essentially kicking even fruit in the butt), no sugar for life, instead consume a truckload of saturated fats, moderate proteins in the form of meats, et Voila! Shake hands with the resplendent Keto Diet!”

Born in the west, initially charted to treat epilepsy patients, the Keto diet has gained tremendous popularity amongst those who want to lose weight in an eye blink. The diet acquired new, very brightly colored wings following FDA’s  quote which debunks it’s previous take on dietary cholesterol. A take which had stood ground for decades. It now says that dietary cholesterol does not influence cholesterol build up in the body. FDA’s statement seems to have vocalized a stream of opinions riding on it’s release.

So let’s take a moment to review what the FDA really states today. It reinforces the build up of health research and theories over the past decade which has implicated sugar and polyunsaturated fats in the acceleration of lifestyle diseases. True. Omega 3 is highly beneficial. No surprise there. Refined flours are great to look at. It’s benefit screeches halt at that. But what has really created a paradox is that FDA has let dietary cholesterol off the hook and yet tightens the noose on the consumption of saturated fats. Health advocates on the other hand have no qualms advocating that the consumption of saturated fats has no cap. And no negative influence on your heart or your health.

Now thinking from a geographical perspective, the Keto was born in a country paying allegiance to refined flour. Bagels for breakfast, and breads for meals, pastries for treats and pizzas for bithdays. Their food ecology gains vibrance from the phenomenal varieties of meats they consume. So a Keto diet works perfectly with their body’s ability to digest and metabolize what their inherent systems are trained to. Eliminating refined flour or even it’s healthier counterpart called the whole wheat flour works perfectly with their plan for better health. The other grains like rice and millet haven’t found much favor in their culture, cuisine or choice.

India on the other hand has an extremely rich grain culture. From the steamed idlis of the south to the makkai ki roti of the north. Bakris, theplas, aapams, pongal, bissibelebath, the chillas and the dhoklas, the biryanis and the muthiyas, no palette can escape this music!

India does house a majority of non-vegetarians, but of a different breed. Their choices are largely restricted to chicken and fish. Infact chicken in India is considered a meat by most, in the west it may well have been the door keeper!

A significant point to consider here is also the frequency and quotient of non-veg consumed as compared to the west. while on an average a non-vegetarian  would consume meat/fish 2-4 times a week for a meal a day, an American would eat as much in a single day, even his breakfast rounding off with sausages and bacon.

Our bodies in most cases can digest and metabolize best the foods we have been used to eating as kids. Our stress levels are managed better when we connect with the food we eat, with food that gives us comfort. Our food has a strange equation with our psyche, not surprisingly though.

Besides the lone “ghee” which assumes the character of one of the key note speakers in the Keto Diet, most of the other participants pretty much find their audience in the west.

FDA is definitely friends with the saturated fats and the red meats today. And the Keto promises a perfect 10 on blood parameters and guarantees eternal health. But there are no longstanding studies to validate the claims of a Keto Diet. If these advantages were to be revoked 20 years from now, the Keto advocates just may have consumed half the world’s share of butter, ghee and 4 legged animals with no access to a U-turn board.

I have found excitement in my profession purely by invention. Creating new pathways to help people achieve their fat loss and health goals. I believe in experiment but also believe in caution.  Because clients entrust me with their health and their belief. I do use the Keto diet to break plateaus, I have dabbled with the Keto purely to validate it’s laurels, I have used the Keto in the thrill of a new ideology.

But I am more than convinced of it’s failure as a lifestyle partner in the Indian scenario. In a country where organic certifications are yet to make an entry, consuming injected meats and growth hormone infected conventional milk may not be the wisest decision of the day. I’m convinced that the Keto cannot find it’s home in a country that sports festivity in food, where eyes twinkle at the orange sweetness of the halwa, where the dawn of a parent is celebrated with a sweet in the mouth, where no household strikes out sugar from it’s grocery list. Where blessings are sought in dahi shakkar, where swollen phulkas symbolize the hunger on the dining table, where most cultures come together to share an array of foods so diverse that it cannot be restricted to 2 groups on the food pyramid.

A healthy lifestyle demands a balanced outlook to food, moderation in quantities, an appetite that doesn’t override the need for food, a peaceful night’s sleep at the end of each day, cooking and storing food in biodegradable seepage proof containers, exercise to keep our happy hormones flowing, not forgetting to laugh, making time for friends, stopping all else to eat at least one meal a day with family and above all else contentment.

I rest my case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get off the holiday….And the weight!!

undo-holiday-weight-gain1

The aroma of food wafting right under my nose and the knowledge that the food is waiting….to be devoured. My name’s written on it. It’s my right. My soul food. On vacation, the pure bliss of doing nothing. By the beach playing scrabble with a book I’ve been dying to read. In the distance I can hear my Y chromosome wrestling with the kids. We have a simple rule. We never buy a ticket for our routine on holiday, it parties by itself at home. Works for all of us.

10 days later as much as we would have liked to bring the holiday routine home with us, we have no choice. We wake up to our days of bustle, chart meetings, ferry kids, fight, make up and at night reminisce over the holiday photos being uploaded on social media. In the quiet of the moonlight I think of the amount of food my body has consumed. While I was holidaying my body was on overdrive burning (what it could) and storing (what it couldn’t burn) all the excess!! And unconsciously my hand reaches out to those extra bulges that have made home in my tummy, happy, satisfied, sated. My friend always says “Holiday food has no calories”, sadly she’s mistaken!! Sigh………………….so who has a similar story? Read on…………..

So when the going gets tough, kick it on the butt and move on buddy!! Exactly! Ask the best nutritionist in the world :)) what to do and this is what she will say.

  • You are overloaded, time to download. Cut all your portions down by a quarter for the next 1-2 weeks.
  • Bring down the weighing scale from the attic, rub off the dust so that your eyes don’t have to squint to see your early morning empty stomach weight zooming down. Keep this check going until your back to your pre-holiday weight. This daily activity will keep you conscious.
  • Stay off carbohydrates at night for the next two weeks. Non-vegetarians can put that smile back on their face with lean meat/fish/egg servings while vegetarians can choose between dal chillas/dry or gravy legumes/tofu/panir. Keep the hunger at bay with fresh salads and soups.
  • 3 times a day, have a refreshing portion of parsley & fennel tea by steeping 1/2 tsp dry parsley and 1/2 tsp fennel seeds in a hot cup of water for a minute. Strain and enjoy!!
  • 2 vegetable juices a day, can be made of any veggies (when I say veggies I mean the literal meaning in the dictionary, you do not want to mistake it for fruit!) – green leaves, carrots, beet, bottle gourd and if your palette is inhuman, even karela!
  • Walk early morning with periodic 2 minute bouts of a jog/sprint on an empty stomach for 30 minutes. A 30 minute exercise span must have 2 sets of the sprint/jog. No conditions attached, if 10 minutes is all you have, so be it. Just make sure it happens, 10 minutes/30 minutes/1 hour, anything is better than nothing.
  • Binge once midweek, as much as you want of whatever you want. This is quintessential. If such essentials don’t exist the zest in life won’t either!

And when your scales start making you happy, write in to us with your comments and queries!

Changing your Lifestyle – Who said it was easy!

Lifestyle is your way of life. You live it. You don it every single day. And if you have to change it, it’s like stripping off the skin you’ve worn for years. It’s painful.

So no one can say it’s easy. Easy is what I’m penning down here. Crediting change to yourself is just as difficult. Commit to changing your lifestyle accepting that you need to better your health & life, realizing that no one but you can make that change and focusing on the consequences of this change when it happens. There can be no greater incentive than visualizing the changes yet to come. And no greater reflection of positivity.

Steps to make sure you succeed in changing your lifestyle for the better

  • Be prepared for the fall: You will fail, temporarily. Be prepared for it, just don’t wait for it. You wear a lifestyle for years and when you decide to change, expect to learn on the job. And with every fall there will be a new lesson learnt. With every lesson you learn pin up the sheets and make your footnotes to success.
  • Close the exit window: “Try” is a no risk word. It doesn’t allow you to commit. And if you want to win this challenge you cannot just “try”, you “must”. Close your mind’s eye to that exit window. Once you’ve made the decision to better your lifestyle, there must be no looking back. Turn in the key and throw it away. Because outside that window rests exactly what made you take this decision in the first place.
  • Pray, your routine: It’s not just about the food, it’s also about your food timings, the food gaps, your sleep, your stress, your water intake and your quantities. It may seem overwhelming. But just like the ocean waves that topple over each other seemingly without rhythm or rhyme but finally ripple to the waiting shore in complete harmony in a tickling foam of white, must your habits seamlessly orchestrate your routine to give you the lifestyle your health deserves. It’s your routine that will invent the change. Just like not drinking water maybe a habit, drinking water must become one. Keep a water alarm, arrange bottles of water in your work space, spike your water with lemon and mint if you like flavor , do what it takes to drink 10-15 glasses of water daily. Start with one element and pick up the others on the way, if you don’t sleep enough start with sleeping half hour early, if you are used to skipping meals, start with never skipping lunch. It’s all about your routine.
  • Believe: Believe in the change you want. Think and reminisce over why you believe change in your lifestyle is essential. Focus on these everyday. Meditate for 5 minutes in your day, in quiet, simply taking in your goal in your mind’s eye. Think over your falls of yesterday and determine not to repeat them today. Want the change so bad that it becomes a desire you just have to. Here obstinacy may prove to be a great tool!
  • Stay prepared: If healthy food hasn’t been a frequent visitor in your home in the past, you would need to make an extra effort to ensure you are well stocked with it. When hunger calls even the most resolute minds can crumble on the feet of the most scrumptious, oil laden, sugar laced food. But if healthy food is available just when you are starting to get hungry even the most fickle minded can make a healthy choice. So let stocks do us last!! Stock healthy food in your kitchen, in your office drawer, in your bag, in your car ranging from fruits to nuts to cheese to yoghurt to dry fruits to wheat crackers to soups to milk to stubs of corn to cherry tomatoes to an endless list! The magic word is “to stock” and the event will be an unbendable “you”.
  • Exercise daily: Just don’t set a time requirement. You must exercise daily. Period. On busy days, even a 10 minute walk is enough, on days when time is leisure you will have an hour to sweat! Do not feed conditions into your exercise routine. Like the kind (if you’ve missed yoga, go for a walk, if you’ve missed Zumba, bring the music on and dance at home!), the time (you woke up late, so what jog at 6pm instead of 6am!), the space (the gym’s closed today, not the park though) and the time limit (an hour maybe better than half but a half hour is better than nothing!). Pat yourself on the back if you’ve packed in some kind of exercise 6 days in the week.
  • A partner in crime: or in something better serves a purpose. Sharing common goals with a friend or a partner could make your journey inspiring and a tad easier. The pitfalls are easier to ride over, the exercises are more regular, the hard days are less hard and binge days are fewer when you have a friend in tow! It’s comfort, it’s grass beneath your feet.

No one can say it is easy. But no one can say it’s impossible either. It’s change. And change is always a challenge. Be prepared to take on that challenge and know in your heart that you are going to win. It’s a 100% chance, you are competing with no one else.  So victory can’t evade you unless you step aside and change your path!

 

My childhood…passed on!

child-play-games1

I thank god every single day for his presence in my life. His presence that i can touch and feel and love. I get shouted at by them even at age 40 and i can curl myself up in between them without them asking why. My parents. Two people who love me like I can only love my children. Two people who gave me so many memories of a childhood that was filled with laughter and sunshine, contentment and culture, normalcy and…….the outdoors!

They passed on an inheritance that will stay with me like a shadow for as long as I will eat and enjoy good food, good books, good friends and good play.

We had a 21 inch screen TV at home. Until I was 15 the TV unit was a beautiful piece sitting on the mantle waiting to frame the best photograph yet to be clicked! It was probably bought under social pressure but really was of no use in our modest daily routine. The laptops and search engines of today were definitely not hourly names in any household.

Which is why my childhood was versatile. I learnt to play. I learnt to love reading. I learnt to write and express. I played hopscotch and cycled on Sundays by the sea with my friends. I hated classical dance but at least I learnt to move with grace.

I learnt conversation without going for elocution classes or theater. Because I never found it unusual to talk in plenty to my parent’s friends. Conversations with adults proved to be worth a ton of experience and wisdom.

There was always something to do. Boredom was just a word in the dictionary the meaning of which i never felt the need for to search.

And that’s why I grew up healthy in habit and healthy in routine. We ate clean home cooked meals rarely peppered with anything artificial/packaged. The spice on our palettes and table habits of eating together inspired the downing of at least 7-8 glasses of water a day. Our days were never complete without aggressive games of “7 tiles” and “catching cook” taking our breaths away on roller coaster rides leaving happy smiles on our faces as we unwillingly trudged home at the end of the day’s play. Promises to meet the next accompanied.

Lack of TV and google search paved way to reading multitudinous titles and precious times with dad as he read to us every single night.

Times of course have passed and as we step into an era where obesity could set in at as early as 5-15 years, we need to steer children away from gadgets and introduce them to the wonder of free play. The likes and followers on Instagram can never replace the interaction with friends on the football ground.

5 steps that we must take to help beat childhood obesity

  1. Get off the idiot box: Children are 6 more times likely to take to games and physical exercise if the TV and other sources of viewing media are minimized. Global research assert that states where children indulge in 4 hours or more of screen time are 40% higher on the obesity graph. TV is shown to numb creativity, dull active brain cells, lower verbal abilities and increase sugar cravings.
  2. Physical exercise and free play: Free play and games and the outdoors have a cumulative effect on health and social skills. Leadership skills, social skills, muscle strength and bone development, an unbeatable immune system, burning excessive adipose tissue, mental calm & focus are just a few in a long list of benefits that  regular physical activity can proudly bring in.
  3. Intermittent snacking: Any food, even healthy food in excess is stored as fat in the body. They become your reserve for fuel later in case you fall short in life situations. The problem lies in the fact that little bits of excess every single day will finally build an unending reserve that just cannot be exchanged for anything in this world, leading to obesity at an early age before you even start assuming responsibility for your own health. So teach your children to eat well, eat right, eat clean fresh food, eat only when hungry and eat to drive the hunger away, not to feel full. The need to munch can be a dangerous habit, once acquired difficult to reverse. So children must eat on time so that the need to snack excessively is not over powering.
  4. Eating the right quantity of fats: I see children being fed and themselves choosing a lot of carbohydrate dense foods. These of course are a good source of energy but it’s important to also choose this one nutrient that i see being overlooked. GOOD FATS. Again our foodie brains will automatically switch our attention to the oil laden deep fried snacks and sweets. Apply caution on quantities and the quality of the fats chosen. Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, pistas and peanuts) and seeds (sunflower, flax, chia, etc), saturated fats like small quantities of butter, ghee and fresh cream and omega 3 rich fish are good to repair and nourish the myelin sheath in the brain that conduct nerve impulses and help with vision and motor impulses.
  5. Allow children to develop a penchant for natural flavors: Natural flavors are mild and soothing like the sugar in carrots and milk, the pungency in onions and radish. Allow children to understand these flavors without adding too much sugar/salt to their meals. Flavor additives are strong and overpower the mild natural flavors in foods, they are also addictive and pave way to strong sugar cravings as children grow up.

Children absorb what you offer them.Their ability to choose is what parents can influence. Exercise this right, right from when they are born. Enable your children with the knowledge to choose the right kinds of foods through constant exposure to a variety of natural flavors and textures. This effort on your part will effect an organic understanding of the power of healthy foods and a natural inclination to healthy eating practices.

Health is the best inheritance you can pass onto your child. So learn, imbibe, practice and pass it on!!

 

My Grandmother’s Days

SUBJECT: This article explains the extensive benefits of gut bacteria and simple recipes of fermented foods that can be included daily in your diet. 

I vividly remember those days back in Kerala where Bombay met with summer vacations and we spent our bright scorching holidays in the mud, grime and happiness of village life.
All rules were broken, discipline was mere theory and all that my brother I did was to eat clean nature’s food and burn all of it right after, in extensive play.
My granny used to store large jars of spicy, teary, desirable pickles well apart from our reach served to us with love at every meal. The tongues went slurp and the tummies went burp into satisfied volleys of laughter as we went steal from even our cousin’s plates. We weren’t allowed too much, it was a treasure that i know was a treasure only today!
The art of fermentation is forgotten. The skill requires time, patience, technique, hygiene and some creation. But what do you get at the end of this long labor?
Delicious bites of vegetable or/and fruit forcing you to crinkle your nose and your eyebrows and leaving you wanting for more. And of course a gut full of beneficial bacteria that keep your digestive tract at a desirable ph not allowing unwanted pathogens to grow.
Our body has about 10 trillion bacteria! Just like that! God’s gift that we don’t really unpack to assimilate the value of because it doesn’t come wrapped in gay colored packages like processed foods do. So we take several essential periodic steps to ensure we kill a lot of these bacteria over a period of time.
STOP, NOW
  1. Sugar/fructose
  2. Refined flours
  3. Processed foods coming out of gay colored tempting packages
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Antibacterial soap
  6. Chlorinated water
  7. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides
  8. Pollution
WHY? BECAUSE….
This is what gut bacteria can do
  1. Contribute to optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
  2. Ensure good bowel Movement
  3. Contribute to great Immunity
  4. Reverse fat accumulation, insulin resistance and inflammation.
  5. Boost energy levels
  6. Keep cholesterol levels within range
  7. Regulate hormones
  8. Support a healthy weight
  9. Improve mental function
HOW?
BY TRYING OUT SIMPLE RECIPES TO FERMENT WHAT IS AVAILABLE AT HOME, especially vegetables and some fruits. Yoghurt made at home is a great daily source of fermented food. Bites of seasonal vegetables like beet, carrots, raw mango, amla, cauliflower, etc can be seasoned with rock salt and filtered water and stored in mason jars for fermentation. Kombucha tea, sauerkraut, kimchi,  tempeh are worth researching through and !
Let your kitchen be ruled by the bacteria for the bacteria!!

Let not a day go by without digging into your bowl of ferment and don’t be surprised by how health knocks at your door every single day.

Anupama Menon (required)
anupamamenon.rightliving@gmail.com (required)
Website
Comment (required)
Submit

Continue reading “My Grandmother’s Days”

Get fit not Fat this Christmas

With the holidays in tow, the highlight for many during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying your favorite holiday treats. Cookies, candied yams, and pies can often be found at every turn when attending holiday festivities. Here are some tips that will help you to enjoy your holiday to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

Continue reading “Get fit not Fat this Christmas”

Quick Recipe (# 1) under 15 min

Our dining has evolved from the customary “three square meals” and we have traded meals for snacks these days. Do you feel guilty about snacking? Don’t. In fact, snacking is an important part of your daily routine giving it a fourth meal status and offers numerous health benefits when done right. Here’s one that you can do in less than 10 minutes!

Recipe – Cornflakes Salad

Preparation Time – 10 minutes Continue reading “Quick Recipe (# 1) under 15 min”

Action Guide to Weight Loss Barriers

 

“Gosh, I need to lose weight, but I’ll start seriously from tomorrow”, “Urgh, just another bite of the brownie won’t do me any harm; I vow to be on a stricter diet from tomorrow”, “A rainy day is the perfect time for hot bajji’s, I shall start exercising tomorrow”, “zzzZZZ, conquer that alarm before it spoils my sleep”. Familiar phrases? Fighting with your inner self to stay motivated and on track to lose those extra kilos? Follow these cheat-proof strategies to help you meet your obstacle filled goals of losing weight.

Obstacle 1: I don’t like fruits and vegetables Continue reading “Action Guide to Weight Loss Barriers”

What is disordered eating?

Disordered eating is defined as “a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder.” Yo-yo dieting and a pre-occupation with food are nothing new in our culture. But when does a fixation with what is consumed, calories and weight become a major health concern? When is it considered disordered?

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa (AN) or bulimia nervosa (BN), are diagnosed according to narrow criteria. This excludes most people and the majority of people suffering with disordered eating.

Symptoms of Disordered Eating Continue reading “What is disordered eating?”

Put down the diet soda, it does NOT help lose weight

Diet sodas are sugar free drinks, artificially sweetened versions of carbonated beverages with virtually no calories. Most are sweetened with at least one of these sugar substitutes: acesulfame potassium and aspartame.

Diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals that can be harmful to your body.

The artificial sweeteners in diet soda overwhelm your taste buds with an onslaught of sweetness. Aspartame ranks 200 times sweeter than table sugar. In fact, brain scans show that diet soda alters sweet receptors in the brain and prolongs sugar cravings rather than satisfies them. Continue reading “Put down the diet soda, it does NOT help lose weight”