Category Archives: Nutrition Articles

Calories: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Everybody wants to ‘go on a diet’. Everyone knows that ‘you have to watch your calories when you diet’, but not everyone understands what exactly ‘calories’ are/mean! Most people associate calories with only junk food/ sweets/chocolates as they know that they are ‘high calorie’ stuff. But what many don’t know is that almost all foods have calories and that the body needs calories for energy purposes.
So why are calories getting a bad reputation? Well, that’s because we live in a world of abundance and we choose to feed our bodies with foods that have too many calories and too little nutrition.
To understand calories better, let us start with the some FAQ’s:
What are calories? Calories are the units used to measure energy.
Where do we get calories from? From the food we eat (fruits, vegetables, grains, pizzas, pooris, cake, chocolates, etc.) and from the beverages we drink (milk, juices, coffee, alcohol, etc.). The energy is stored in these foods in the form of ‘macronutrients’ namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each of these macronutrients gives us ‘energy’ in varying numbers:
Carbohydrates= 4 calories per gram
Protein=4 calories per gram
Fat= 9 calories per gram
Since all foods have calories and since our bodies need calories-how does one know what to eat and what to avoid?
Good question! To make things simple-let’s divide calories into three groups:

Good; Bad and the last……UGLY!!
1. Good calories: are those which come from ‘nutrient dense foods’. These are foods that are loaded with other nutrients like minerals, vitamins, fiber, essential fatty acids which the body needs, in contrast to the number of calories the food contains.

Good Calories

These can be found in regular foods that are familiar to most people like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains like brown/parboiled/semi-polished rice, whole wheat atta, jowar, bajra, barley, ragi/nachni, nuts and seeds, lean meats like chicken/turkey (skinned out), fish, soy and other dry beans/pulses. Healthy and natural fats are an important component of a balanced diet. Include natural fats like butter, ghee, olive oil , traditional Indian oils like coconut, til, mustard, peanut oil. Healthy fats can also be found in free-range poultry, wild caught oily fish, full-fat dairy products and eggs. Try to get the maximum calories through these foods and you will end up getting most of the nutrients that the body requires including the calories needed for the body to function normally.

2. Bad calories: These would be foods that man has changed from its natural format-like polished/white rice, white bread, refined flour/maida, juices, milkshakes, etc.

Polished rice

The trick is to ‘go slow’ with this group. Try to avoid or limit these foods as these have been stripped off their nutrients.

3. Ugly calories: or ‘empty calories’ are those foods that provide no other nutrients other than calories. These are usually foods that are either loaded with sugar or fat/oil/ transfat (vanaspathi, margarine).

Candy

Best examples of these would be cola/aerated drinks, alcohol, sweets (candies, cakes, pastries, donuts) fried foods like chips, fries, namkeens, pakodas, pooris, etc. Avoid eating these on a regular basis as these will provide you with only calories that you don’t need!

Now that things are hopefully a lot clearer, there are two more things to keep in mind-PORTION SIZES and regular EXERCISE!
Too much of even ‘good’ things can be bad for you. Eating balanced diets and exercising regularly is the key to staying healthy!


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 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

Note:

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

lifestyle.


Does an Apple a day REALLY keep the doctor away????

According to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in Australia, it may be true!!

An Apple a day….

The CSIRO reviewed the abstracts of about a 122 reviews published on apples and found that the saying does hold some weight.  Scientific evidence does actually show that regularly eating apples can help:

  • Keep your heart healthy:  by helping to lower total and LDL cholesterol. New research from the University of Western Australia show that eating apples may improve blood pressure and elasticity of blood vessels.
  • Maintain a healthier gut bacteria: by bringing positive changes to gut bacteria
  • Assist in weight loss: by helping you feel fuller for longer. Studies have shown that both adults and children who eat apples regularly are more likely to have a lower BMI which could be attributed due to the pectin (fibre) and polyphenols present in apples.

Apples are known to be subject to a host of pesticides and since most of the nutrition is in the skin, the best thing to do is either buy organic apples or do the next best thing – soak the apples in a baking soda solution for 12 to 15 minutes and then scrub it well.


Spring Allergies??Asthma??Include this fruit in your diet…

Pears

Traditional Chinese medicine has for years used pears to help those suffering from lung infections. Just like in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine uses foods to heal certain internal organs and pears are used to dissolve mucus, detoxify, relieve constipation, lubricate the throat in hot weather, regenerate body fluids and relieve coughs.

Researchers in Netherlands conducted a study and found that fruits like pears and apples are rich in a plant compound catechin, which may help protect the lungs from chronic diseases.

Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and  vitamin C. The fiber found in pear is insoluble, which along with the fructose and sorbitol, makes it an excellent addition for those who are constipated. Pears are considered beneficial in treating inflammation of mucous membranes, lowering high blood pressure, controlling blood cholesterol levels. , and alleviating arthritis and gout symptoms.

 

 

 

 


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.

Desi Diet Plans

  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 in touch with me to schedule an appointment as the first step to a new, healthy, YOU!!
To know more about Sweta Uchil Purohit : CLICK HERE: Online Indian DIETITIAN Sweta Uchil
 Click to go to choose the right Indian Diet Plan for Healthy weight loss: Online Diet Consultation Packages

Diet and Precautions during the Monsoons

After the long, hot summer months, the monsoon rains bring much needed relief from the heat. The rains, which are a welcome change, can spell the end for outdoor exercises for all health enthusiasts. The rains also tend to bring to the table steaming teas along with hot ‘pakoras’.

Fried Foods

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

No More Excuses-How to Exercise When the Weather is Bent on Being a Spoilsport

Weather has for long been the standard excuse for those who want to escape exercising. Whether it’s the rain, the snow or the heat- there is an excuse for every season!

Exercising in Winter

After the long, hot summer months, the monsoon rains bring much needed relief from the heat. The rains, which are a welcome change, can spell the end for outdoor exercises for all health enthusiasts. The rains or even the snow also tend to bring to the table steaming teas along with hot ‘pakoras’.

So how does one take care of the diet and exercise during with all these hurdles?

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

TYPE 2 DIABETES??? Add this common Indian vegetable to lower your sugars

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot maintain healthy levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it well. This type of Diabetes can be easily managed with a healthy diet and physical activity and medication.

Recent studies have shown that a low-carb diet can be extremely beneficial for Type 2 Diabetics in controlling the sugar levels and in some cases even reversing the disease. A low- carb diet is a diet which has absolutely no refined carbohydrates, like added sugar, cakes, soft drinks, maida, biscuits and sugary drinks etc and very little grains(depending on individual blood tolerance). A good dietitian can plan a low-carb diet based on your eating patterns. If you are looking for a Desi/Indian Diet plan for Diabetes leave a note on our CONTACT US PAGE: Click HERE

There are a lot of foods that can help in lowering the sugar levels. That being said it should be mentioned here that these are not ‘Miracle Foods’ that can reduce your sugar levels after you have eaten sugary foods! One such vegetable is the humble Bhindi(ladiesfinger/Okra).

Okra/Ladiesfinger/Bhindi

Studies have shown that Ladiesfinger/Okra may benefit diabetics by reducing the rate of glucose being absorbed by the intestine. This may be primarily due to the slimy mucilage that is in the vegetable. It is also high in fiber which is an important component for controlling diabetes symptoms by keeping you full for a longer period thereby reducing hunger cravings. It also contains other nutrients like antioxidants, folate, potassium, calcium and vitamin K. Many people soak a cut ladiesfinger in water overnight and drink the water in the morning along slimy content.

Bhindi is a commonly used vegetable in every Indian household and each family probably has it own favourite bhindi recipes. Here are a few recipes that you can include:

  1. Bhindi in Peanut Masala
  2. Dry Bhindi Sabzi
  3. Palakkad style Bhindi Sambar
  4. Bhindi Fried Rice

Other foods that have been known to lower blood sugars are:

  • Karela(bittergourd),
  • Jamun fruit(Java fruit)
  • Bhindi (ladiesfinger/Okra)
  • Methi seeds (Fenugreek seeds)
  • Cinnamon (Ceylon)

If you are looking for a Desi/Indian Diet plan for Diabetes leave a note on our CONTACT US PAGE: Click HERE

Sweta Uchil-Purohit

Dietitian


The BRAT Diet for kids(for Diarrhea and various Stomach issues)

The BRAT Diet is basically a short term diet which is bland and easy to digest food used for those who have nausea, vomiting, loose stools (diarrhea) or gastrointestinal infection/stomach upsets.  The BRAT is an acronym which stands for:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

The BRAT diet is recommended especially for children when they are recovering from a bout of illness and ready to start on solid foods. Once they tolerate these foods you can slowly introduce regular food as and when tolerated.  The BRAT diet is not something that is recommended to be eaten for a long time as it is nutritionally not balanced.

A few more foods that can be added to the BRAT diet (which makes it BRATTY)

  • light Tea is also known to help and
  • natural Yogurt, to heal the gut bacteria

Note: This diet is to be introduced after the patient is tolerating liquids well and is ready to start eating and should not be used for more than a day .

 


5 Reasons Why Summer is the Best Time to Lose Weight!

With the summer sun beating down there isn’t much to look forward to other than a summer vacation somewhere cooler. For those who will be stuck in the heat, and have been planning to lose weight since the New Year, here are five reasons why summer is the best time to put your weight loss plans in action:

1. Easy to stick to a diet plan: with no relief from the heat, fried, greasy, heavy food is probably the last thing you want to eat! That itself cuts out a lot of calories from your diet!

2. Fruits and salads are so much more appealing-the water content in fruits and veggies makes it all the more delicious during summer. This not only adds much needed fibre to the diet, but also helps in keeping your body hydrated.

3. You could lose extra calories by just drinking ice cold water-yes, scientists now suggest that drinking ice cold water may burn a few extra calories as the body has to raise the temperature of the ice water to the bodies temperature! This may or may not be true but drinking 10-12 glasses of ice cold water a day can’t add calories as water is a great zero-calorie drink!

4. No festivals until August-so that means no excuses of having to break the diet due to festival binging! From now until Krishna Janmashtami , you can focus on your diet!

5. Exercising in the heat could burn more calories-this is the principle behind ‘hot yoga’ (Bikram yoga)! Supposedly, exercising in the heat burns more calories since it makes the heart pump harder to your extremities to help you lower your body temperature, which rises fast in hot weather.

So stop wasting time and get started and who knows you could end up losing up to 8-10kgs by the end of summer!

Online Dietitian India

Sweta uchil-Purohit