A Nutritionist Tells You What To Pick From A Vending Machine (as published in Men’s Health)

Vending Machine Healthy Snack Options

Its way past your lunch time and you still haven’t figured out what to eat and where. Admit it, we’ve all been there.

So, while waiting for your cab or the next metro, you spot a vending machine nearby and think, “oh’ heck, what harm could a single snack do to my health?” Voila, you start walking towards the machine while simultaneously doubting your decision and considering its impact on your
diet.

To help you avoid this vending machine dilemma next time, we asked Bengaluru-based nutritionist and food coach Anupama Menon, Right Living, to help us figure out which snacks are worth eating and which ones should be absolutely avoided. Here’s what she had to say:

“Packaged foods generally have one or more of the three addictive additives – salt, sugar, fat (generally trans fats/vegetable oil, both of which are not good). These foods in general must be minimised and aren’t preferable snacking options.”

Below are her thoughts on some of the other common vending machine munchies:

1. Chips

 

chips-vending-machine-unhealthy.jpg

 

They are widely known to have high sodium content, which contributes to higher levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. So, it’s advisable to have a look at the nutritional value, specifically the sodium levels, printed on the packet.

Ms. Menon’s verdict: Look for other options. Period.

 

2. Aerated Drinks

 

vending machine snacking

 

They have the least nutritional value to offer and contribute to obesity, liver diseases, gastric problems and several other health conditions.

Ms. Menon’s verdict: They are unhealthy anyway, try to avoid as much as possible.

 

3. Cookies And Biscuits

 

vending-machine-cookies-unhealthy.jpg

 

Packaged cookies and biscuits are loaded with refined sugar, fat, gluten and preservatives, which according to several fitness experts, are best be avoided.

Ms. Menon’s verdict: Cookies and biscuits are unhealthy, you’d rather reach out to look for something else.

 

4. Nuts

 

nuts health benefits

 

They are tasty, high on nutritional value and are super convenient to eat. Despite their high fat content, several fitness experts and nutritionists advise that nuts are a lot healthier than other munchies available at vending machines. They also help lower cholesterol levels. According to a study published by Archives of Internal Medicine, consumption of nuts is linked to reduced LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels.

Ms. Menon’s verdict: Packaged nuts may contain extra salt, so while the unsalted varieties are best, packaged nuts are still a better snack option than the others available in a vending machine.

 

5. Popcorn

 

vending-machie-popcorn-healthy.jpg

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this popular movie snack. But these air-popped corns (not the butter-laden ones) may not add as many calories to your daily count as you think. In fact, a cup full of air-popped corns are found to have only 30 calories.

Ms. Menon’s verdict: Popcorn made from corn kernals come right after the nuts and granola bars on the list of healthy options.”

 

So, the next time you’re headed for a vending machine snack, make a healthy choice.

What is your food pyramid? (article as it appeared in the Afternoon DC, Mumbai)

http://www.afternoondc.in/health-fitness/what-is-your-food-pyramid/article_225746

What is your food pyramid?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tilt the balance of your fat loss story by identifying the foods that your body finds difficult to digest, says Anupama Menon

It’s an age-old battle. The weight won’t come off. There is a reason why we are struck by people who look like they have lost a whole person off themselves; it’s so rare. It’s a miracle we all want for ourselves—to lose weight, get fit and be the envy of another’s eye.

You lose the weight to gain it back and a second attempt is unbelievably difficult. The resolve melts like it was never there and then we tag it with a name, the ‘Yo-Yo’ effect. Acceptance follows.

There has to be an easier way, because no problem was ever born without a solution.

The Food Pyramid

Over time, every individual develops intolerances to certain foods. It could be towards wheat or towards rice, milk products or nuts (generally touted as healthy fat) Surprisingly, sometimes this could even be towards fruits, which are advocated as signboards to health!  The intolerances may not necessarily precipitate as allergies becoming apparent in external signs. It purely means the inability of the body to digest and burn a particular food/food group most efficiently, leading to a slowdown in the metabolism.

The reason for this compromise in efficient burning of certain foods could be because of the insufficiency of certain enzymes responsible for digestion of specific food groups. For example, you may not be able to tolerate proteins too well because of low secretion of the protease enzyme that digests protein. While the world goes serenading high-protein diets, you wonder why it doesn’t work for you in any way other than giving you a headache at the end of the day.

On the other hand, grains may be your driver or accelerant. Hot phulkas at night and a simple khichadi in the afternoon works not just in your kitchen but also on your preening waistline! It could simply be because you have a wealth of amylase (carb-digesting enzyme) in your system desperate to mash all that carb down. So while the health elitists and modern-day research undermine high carbs and steer warning signals even if you go as much as close to a grain, you wonder why things work differently for you.

Hence, it’s important to identify your ‘Focused Food Pyramid’ or your customised food pyramid. The food pyramid should guide you towards eliminating those food groups you cannot efficiently burn 80% of the time and including larger portions of the foods you know will help you run the long race, will burn most effectively in your body.

The consequence: When you apply the rule of the Focused Food Pyramid, automatically your body’s absorption of nutrients is more proficient. You are less likely to overeat; a smaller portion of food keeps you satiated. All of this sets your body’s ecology right, restoring the balance that was long overdue.

The hypothalamic part of your brain that signals hunger and thirst is largely responsible for sending out fat-burning signals. It also controls significant hormones that can alter your state of fat loss and storage. The hypothalamus switches on that fat-burning button, allowing you to lose and maintain weight naturally, as a consequence of your food and habits—not because you are forcing your body to lose weight through heavy calorie restrictions and nothing less than a two- hour daily workout!

The advantage

Cheat two or three times a week, vacation, party and don’t worry about it. There is no guilt, because the excess weight won’t come back in a day. It will stay away because you have learnt the rules of your Food Pyramid. You have tilted the balance of your fat loss story.

No one size fits all, nor is one rule made for everybody. Each individual is unique. And so should be your diet. Our eating practices should be defined not only by what we read and what is ‘supposed’ to be but largely by what our body needs.

Anupama Menon is a nutritionist and food coach

How to follow a high protein Indian meal plan (article as it appeared in Vogue, India)

https://www.vogue.in/content/high-protein-diet-plan-with-indian-meals/

  • By Hasina Khatib

Diets usually bring bland, steamed food, boring salads and soups to mind. However, there is a reason why the high protein diet quickly carried favour with the health-conscious; we’ll give you a minute to quickly chase away that mental image of endless rounds of chicken tikka. While carbohydrates regularly become the enemy when it comes to weight loss, an easy solution comes in the form of a protein-rich diet, which has the potential of burning stored fats within the body and limiting the damage done by consumption of processed foods. Those looking to give this diet plan a spin can take heart in the fact that it doesn’t require a major pantry overhaul. We spoke to Anupama Menon, nutritionist and food coach, to help you adapt to this diet by using the staple ingredients found in an average Indian kitchen.

What is the high protein diet?

This specialised diet plan lives up to the spoiler in its nomenclature by asking you to do just that: flood your system with friendly proteins and shave off all unhealthy carbs from your food plate. “A diet that supplies anywhere above 50 per cent protein on a vegetarian diet and above 60 per cent on a non-vegetarian diet, is classified as a high protein diet. A single gram of protein supplies four calories, or units of energy, which means that on a 2,000-calorie diet, 1,200 calories hail from protein—derived from a whopping 300 grams of it. Protein sources constitute a wide array of everyday foods, including meats, chicken, fish, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, legumes, dals, sprouts and pulses,” explains Menon.

Given the sheer number of diet plans available currently, your confusion about which one to opt for is justified. Menon makes a simple case for the high protein option: “Certain foods have the ability to spike your sugar levels, making you more susceptible to weight gain. The common catalyst for this is all the carbohydrates that you are consuming on a daily basis, especially processed and refined ones like sugar and flour. This is where proteins come into the picture, as they hardly allow any increase in sugar levels and have a super low glycemic index. With a tight leash on the internal supply of carbs, the body begins burning the stores of fat, which aids the process of weight loss. Proteins also have a high satiety value, meaning that you can expect lesser untimely hunger pangs during the day,” she explains.

Why should you be consuming a high protein diet?

This diet goes miles towards monitoring your blood sugar levels by swapping carbs with proteins, and it enjoys a huge popularity among athletes and bodybuilders. You may not have a marathon to prepare for, but if you’ve been looking to curb those unhealthy cravings, this diet could be the answer. “People who are on the obesity or overweight spectrum, or are affected by hormonal imbalances, can expect respite with this diet. It is also recommended for people who have diabetes or insulin resistance. However, those suffering from kidney concerns, or are underweight, should avoid it and consult a dietician to find the best option available to them,” explains the Bengaluru-based nutritionist.

Are there any precautions you need to take when increasing your protein intake?

“It is important to consider how your body is reacting to the sudden influx of protein and reduced carbs. If you feel bloated or constipated, remember to substitute the current form of protein with another alternative. Also, another misconception that you need to be wary of is that the high protein diet doesn’t completely shun carbs, as that may be difficult for your body to adapt to. If you are having only proteins during the day, work in one portion of carbs into your diet at night to keep things running smoothly,” advises Menon.

You should add the following to your running checklist while starting with this diet plan too. “Don’t forget to hydrate yourself well, keep a check on your uric acid and creatinine levels and add some complex carbs like fruit and green veggies to this diet, as well as a serving of our good old wholesome grains in the day. Soya is considered a high source of protein but must be used judiciously due to its oestrogen raising properties,” she recommends.

Here’s what an ideal high protein meal should look like

The key ingredient to making this diet work has been hiding in your kitchen all along. “Make sure that you eliminate trans fats from your daily diet and use ingredients like ghee and olive oil instead, while preparing your meals,” recommends Menon. Want to get started? Allow these meal options to get you off the starting mark.

Breakfast

  1. One helping of dal dosa or chila, or
  2. A bowl of yoghurt, or
  3. One glass of almond smoothie

Mid-morning snack

  1. Egg whites, or
  2. One glass of buttermilk, or
  3. One helping of fresh cheese

Lunch

  1. Cooked lean meat like chicken or fish, or
  2. A cheese mushroom omelette made of one/two eggs, or
  3. One helping of egg pakodas, or
  4. One helping of vegetable khichdi

Evening snack

  1. One bowl of sprouts and yoghurt, or
  2. Handful of almonds and walnuts, or
  3. Kala channa chaat

Dinner

  1. Paneer tikka, or
  2. Three-four chicken or seekh kebabs, or
  3. Mutton curry with rice

Localising the protein-heavy diet

The good news is that the various nuances of your regional diets mean that most of us are already consuming a healthy share of proteins. “For instance, Bengalis love their fish, which is a great source of protein. The key step here is ensuring that you consume it in the right form. Take care to eliminate trans fats and refined vegetable oils from your daily diet, and instead use ingredients like desi ghee and olive oil while preparing your fish. Likewise, you’ll find that the North Indians are really fond of their lassi and chaas, and it can be used as a light dinner option at night along with some chila, while relegating the heavy-duty meals to the afternoon,” she explains.

At first glance, vegetarians might not find much joy in the roster of meats that the high protein diet demands, but Menon promises that your options are not as limited as you think.

“Simply find your favourite ingredient and make it the star of your diet. If you’re fond of potatoes, throw together some chole pattice, or if you like your wholesome grains, treat yourself to some rajma falafel. At risk of quoting the cliché, maybe paneer is your go-to food, and it can be used in multiple interesting ways, from paneer tikki for lunch to a stir-fry with veggies to keep things light at dinner,” she says.

What results can be expected from following the high protein diet plan?

As with all diets, you can’t realistically expect to hit the jackpot in the first week itself, but consistency will get you to where you want to be. “The results depend entirely on how well your body is adapting to this diet plan, but beginners can expect an average weight loss of two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half kilos in the first month,” says Menon. Since one form of protein may not work for everybody, if you feel yourself getting constipated or bloated, feel free to change the form of protein rather than giving up on the diet altogether.

Everything there is to know about Intermittent Fasting (article as it appeared in Men’s Health, India)

https://www.menshealthindia.com/article/everything-there-know-about-intermittent-fasting

Here’s how intermittent fasting can trigger weight-loss and keep you healthy at the same time.

time.Anupama Menon

Fasting

Fasting. It’s age-old, it’s tradition, it’s inheritance, it’s global. Almost every known culture has its veins wrapped around this symbolic abstinence. It was meant to cleanse the system, to be proof of discipline, to influence political thought and today fasting is being proven, by research, to sport medical and health advantages.

Nutritional fasting is of several kinds and one of them is Intermittent Fasting (IF). It demands an 8-hour feeding period followed by a 16 hour fast for a man and a 9-10 hour feeding period followed for a 14-15 hour fast for a woman. And that calls for a bias! Anyway, we shall get to gender specifics later. Let’s start at the top.

What You Should Keep In Mind While Attempting This

1. The 16-hour fasting window begins after your last meal of the day, any time after 4 pm. From then on, there is no eating for 16 hours. So, if one finishes dinner at 6 pm, the next meal would be at 10 am. Or if one finishes eating at 8:30 am, the next meal would be at 12:30 pm. You can use the fasting window which is most comfortable to your lifestyle, routine, hunger peak and eating pattern.

2. When you break the fast, ironically a small measure of food fills you up faster than you would think. And it’s clever to listen to your tummy at this point. More than the quantity of food, it will be the quality of food that will satiate your nutritional requirement. The body is under a state of starvation and will absorb what you give it most efficiently. So, give it protein, a spool of vegetables and a modest portion of carbohydrates.

3. The meal before you end the fast must have a good share of wholesome fibre-rich carbs equal to the protein. Keep yourself well hydrated through the eating period and don’t miss the supplements charted for you. A moderate number of nuts, some good fats and some homemade yoghurt will tether advantage.

4. Through the fasting period, any liquid below of 50kcals once or twice during the 14-16 hours is said to maintain the fasting state. Black tea or coffee, salted unsweetened lemon juice, green tea can keep you going. But remember not to overdo the caffeine.

5. To stay safe, one could fast 3 days a week or resort to the 5:2 formula where you eat well 5 days a week and under 600kcals two days a week.

6. Remember this must not be done by pregnant women, growing children, anyone with a medical condition, people on any long term/short term medication and anyone with a liver or kidney issue.

The Advantages

The advantages according to medical research are plenty; anti-ageing benefits, positive effect on neurogenerative disorders, protective benefits on the brain and the heart. Intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation, helps one lose weight, regulates insulin and blood sugar and curbs appetite. If the list isn’t long enough there is even some evidence that it could reduce the size of cancerous tumours.

The Disadvantages

1. You could get specific about the fasting window and exhibit some anti-social properties. Besides, one may feel acidic and lightheaded. You will experience hunger pangs and it may affect your metabolism. There could be chances of nutritional deficiencies if the 8-hour eating window isn’t well planned.

2. There are high chances of a hormonal disadvantage too. It could spike the stress hormone cortisol or the hunger hormone ghrelin that could throw the 8-hour eating pattern out of the window. The dependency on caffeine to curb the appetite maybe high but can be controlled with conscious effort.

3. The disadvantages for women are far greater than for men. It could inspire hormonal disharmony, cause period irregularity, anxiety, depression, metabolic stress, sleeping difficulty, shrinking of ovaries, irregular periods and amenorrhea. And hence, women on IF must maintain shorter fasts of anywhere between 12-14 hours.

Just like there is no diet that works wonders for everybody, there is no fast that works alike for everyone. Fasting may or may not be for you. Listen to the signals your body sends out to you. And then decide whether you are comfortable with the idea. Fasting doesn’t have to be long ended, it could be practiced once a month or twice every couple of months a year. Moderation is the key to this as well. Just like everything else in life, do not overdo fasting.

About The Author: With a Bachelors in Food Science & Nutrition and a PG in Food technology & Nutrition, Anupama successfully runs ‘Right Living’ (established in 2012), a nutritional counseling and education entity that offers some of the most ingenious food & lifestyle plans.

Menopause has The other side!!

picture-137If you think you are approaching menopause or are perimenopausal, it’s time to begin caring for yourself afresh!

  • Take care of yourself and your emotions. It can be a hard time, confusing too. You want to be nice to faces around you but all that seeps out is anger. You’ve lived in the same city you have come to love half your life and suddenly it feels like the most boring place to reside in. It’s hot all the time, weight gain isn’t fiction anymore and you don’t feel like you. Relax. Take time out for yourself, indulge in shopping, good books and massages. Exercise atleast 40 minutes 4-5 times a week and buy new lipstick. You need to spend time with yourself and cut the pace a bit.
  • You may experience weight gain. Take a fresh look at the food on your plate. Anything that comes out of gay coloured packaging cannot find place there. Load it with fresh vegetables, a handful of crunchy fats (the nuts!!), home cultured yoghurt, whole grains (experiment! try sticky rice, polenta, red rice, millets, barley, etc), seed and nut cooking oils, dark chocolate and cheese.
  • Review your supplements, you may be estrogen dominant or high on cortisol. You may be going through adrenal fatigue or hypothyroidism. There maybe inflammation or instability of blood sugar levels. Your gut maybe playing havoc. There’s a solution, always! Visit your medical practitioner or alternative therapist and find solutions through the right supplements. Evening primrose oil, Vit E, Zinc, Vit D, wheat grass powder, garlic extracts, parsley and fennel water, Curcumin, choice of sea vegetables and omega 3 are amongst my top choices!
  • Probiotics are a blessing. We are all connected, with each other yes, but here I was talking about our ingenious body. There is a strong, invisible, embodied line that connects each one of our organs. And one takes care of the other. Where is 90% of the neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that promote wellness for our mind produced? Voila! In our gut! So take care of your gut and it takes care of our happy spirit! Natural probiotics come in the form of cultured yoghurt, pickled veggies, fermented fruit, lacto fermented salsa all of which can be churned out from our traditional kitchen. And then of course there are the more glorified names like miso, kefir, tempeh kamboocha, etc if you manage to find them! Whichever you choose, choose, choose to eat some every single day.
  • Lastly, sleep well, make new friends, travel wide and reach out to loved ones. Do everything that makes you feel good.

Perimenopause is a phase that each and every woman will find far behind herself in time. And on the other side is the brighter side of life, a life free of pads and tampoons and worry of cramps and PMS.

Menopause is the time to love life all over again, to celebrate the woman in you who is achieved, who is proud of the memories she has created, who is brave enough to view a difference in her life.

Just view menopause with positivity, the right spirit and the right arms to help you embrace it without dampening your altitude!

Any questions? you can mail in your quieries to anupamamenon.rightliving@gmail.com

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.

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