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

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

This article of mine was published in INDUS Age a local Indian Newspaper in Syndey. You can read the article here: Spring Clean your Diet

Spring 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.


Healthy North Indian Foods to choose when dining out…

Healthy North Indian foods to choose when dining out.

Published in Health India on 22nd May: Healthy North Indian Food Choices When Dining Out

Dining out need not be taboo for health freaks or those who are on the proverbial diet. You don’t have to stop socializing or be stuck with a salad when the rest of the gang is polishing off the food like there is no tomorrow. With a little information, some smart choices and the determination to stick to portion sizes, you too can enjoy a healthy meal while dining out.
While every cuisine has its unhealthy quota of foods, there also are foods that can easily fit into the ‘healthy’ list. Regardless of which restaurant you choose, here are some general guidelines by dietician Sweta Uchil-Purohit to make healthy choices when ordering North Indian food.
Ask for water instead of juices, mocktails, aerated or alcoholic beverages. There’s no point in adding extra calories when you can drink nature’s zero-calorie drink – water.
Avoid fried foods, desserts and food made of refined flours: Pass on the pooris, bhaturas, pakodas, naans and roomali rotis and look for healthier options like whole wheat rotis or phulkas. Desserts are loaded with both sugar and fat and are best to be avoided.
Go for plain rice: Since most restaurants don’t serve brown or semi-polished rice, your only option is to ask for plain rice. This is definitely a better choice than biryanis or pulavs.
Ask for your food to be made without oil, butter, ghee and malai: Since most restaurants are now familiar with the health conscious crowd, they are more than willing to make changes to their dishes to keep their clientele happy. Be firm and put in your request while placing the order and hopefully your food will be cooked with less oil if not with ‘no oil’.
Always order a non-creamy soup and a salad (no dressing): This is an age-old trick used by weight watchers. Fill-up your stomach with non-creamy or thin soups and salads (without the mayonnaise dressing) and you won’t be able to eat much during the main course.
Choose items that are baked, grilled or steamed: These are healthy methods of cooking that don’t add extra calories to the dish. Tandoori items, shashlik, grilled kebabs are all healthier choices than fried items.
Choose tomato based curries: These are lower in calories than themalai or cashew based curries. Rajma, chole and even fish or chicken cooked in tomato gravy is a better option.
Once you are familiar with these guidelines, you can easily pick out the healthy items from any menu. For those who love eating North Indian food, here’s a sample meal plan of what you can order:
Course
Veg
Non-veg
Beverage
Water
Water
Soup
Mixed vegetable soup
Tomato soup
Appetiser (optional)
Tandoori paneer/ Paneer Shashlik
Chicken tikka/ Tandoori chicken
Salad
Green Salad/ Raita
Green Salad/ Raita
Main
Roti /Phulka/ Plain rice
Roti/ chapati/Plain rice
Side
Chhole and Bharta
Methi chicken and gobi mattar
If you have to choose an appetiser/starter, pick something which is a protein based, non-fried item (like tandoori paneer/hara bhara chickenkebab or prawn shashlik) as protein tends to fill you up and will leave you with little space for the courses to follow.  Eat slowly and try to relish every bite (mindful eating), stick to your portion size and if you feel that you are full even before the main course arrives, then ask for your portion to be parceled so that you can enjoy it in the next meal. If you do get tempted when the desserts are being served, then go ahead and take a spoonful from your friend’s plate. Cheers and happy dining!

How To Stay Fit While on Vacation/Work Travel

‘The World is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page’

To travel is to live-so whether you travel for work or for a vacation, enjoy every minute of it. Everyone deserves to take a break and come back refreshed. But weight watchers rarely are able to enjoy a vacation for the fear of putting on some extra ‘holiday/travel pounds’! Here are some tips for those who want to stay in shape even while on a vacation:
Diet: While it is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to stick to a rigid diet plan while on a holiday, weight watchers can still enjoy a variety by ‘eating smart’:
Avoid tucking into unnecessary fried foods like chips, fries, namkeens-these not only add on unwanted calories, but also make you feel sluggish and lethargic (the last thing you want while on vacation)
Eat a wholesome breakfast-anything from cereals and milk, oats, idli, sandwiches along with fresh fruits. Keep the Belgium waffles, chocolate doughnuts and muffins for the occasional indulgence. Eating a hearty breakfast and then stepping out to explore the place will keep you going till lunchtime.
Be adventurous-try out the local cuisine. You don’t have to stick to the tried and tested menus. Holidays are all about exploring and what could be better than exploring the local cuisine. Besides they can be a lot healthier than the fast-food joints that you would otherwise end up at.
Stick to portion sizes– You just need to know when to stop. Don’t eat till you feel stuffed and not able to move. Avoid eating at the buffets on a daily basis.
Keep yourself hydrated-with natures ‘zero-calorie’ drink, WATER! Avoid the sodas/aereated drinks and ice-cream sodas. Choose fresh fruit juices or tender coconut water instead.
Check out the local markets-If you don’t want to shell out exorbitant rates for fruits and salads at the hotels/restaurants, then check out the local markets for seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Exercise: Most hotels are equipped with a gym so make sure to pack your exercise shoes and some workout clothes. If working out in a gym is not your idea of a holiday, then you can still burn the extra calories by:
Walking/jogging– explore the nearby areas by going on a walk/jog in the morning or late evening.
Swimming: Cool off by taking a splash in the pool/lake or ocean.
Try out adventure sports-like rock-climbing, snorkeling, deep sea diving, water skiing, surfing, white water rafting. These are not only fun, but will also make sure that you are keeping yourself active.
Cycle/hike– instead of taking a tour bus or renting a car on all days, chalk out places that are close to where you stay and you can rent a cycle or go on a hike and get a feel of the place.
Dance: Check out the local hot night spots and have a ball dancing the night away.
Don’t stress out too much if you aren’t able to follow any of the tips-after all the whole idea of the vacation is to unwind, as Cliff Richards’ classic oldie ‘Summer Holiday’ goes:
“We’re all going on a summer holiday,
no more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
no more worries for me or you,

for a week or two”
You can always get back to your diet and fitness routine once you get back home!