Calories: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

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.


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

How to Keep Food Safe During a Power Outage

It’s bad enough being stuck in a snow storm, tornado or cyclone but to have a power outage along with that is like putting salt on your wounds. People are usually well prepared to face a storm with extra food, water, flashlights, candles but they often tend to forget about the food kept in the fridge and freezer.

Frozen food

While non-perishable foods will keep well when left outside, the perishable foods like milk, cheese, poultry, meat and left overs will become a breeding ground for pathogens if it is kept above 4C (40F) for more than 2 hours. To prevent food borne diseases follow these simple tips:
1) When you get to know about the storm or blizzard make sure to set your fridge at it’s coldest setting.
2) Move all the perishables like milk, and leftovers to the back of the fridge or into the freezer.
3)Keep coolers, ice packs and extra ice blocks ready .
4)During the power outage stack the food closer to each other both in the fridge and the freezer. Closely packed food tend to keep cold longer.
5)Keep meat,poultry on trays or ziplock pouches in the freezer to avoid the drippings from contaminating other foods in case it does thaw out.
6)Keep the fridge and freezer doors closed to keep the cold trapped inside.
7)If the power outage is for more than 4 hours, then put the ice-blocks into the coolers and move the food into that.
Keep in mind that without power the fridge will keep cold for just 4 hours while the freezer (if it is full) will most likely keep for about 48 hours.
Discard any food that has been stored above 40F (or 4C) for more than two hours. If the food smells bad, has changed in colour, texture or if you simply are in doubt-then throw it away. Better to be safe than sorry.


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.

Diet Mantras: Three Words to Eliminate to be Successful in Following a Diet….

How To Successfully Follow A Diet…

Diet Mantras…..

Almost everyone has tried to “go on a diet” or “is on a diet” or is planning to “go on a diet”! But very few are able to stick to it and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Why does this happen? Why do people “stop dieting’? Why isn’t everyone able to succeed ?

Being successful in anything takes a lot of hard work, dedication and planning. The same goes with sticking with a diet or rather changing to a healthy lifestyle.
According to Bernard Roth, a professor of engineering at Stanford University changing a few words could be the answer to being successful.  Let’s try and put the same theory to being successful in following a diet or lifestyle change and maybe it might help you to be more healthy.
In his new book “The Achievement Habit”, Prof. Roth suggests two verbal tweaks that could change the way you think about the world and in doing so become successful in life.
He suggests that:

 Instead of Saying   Use the Word
 But  And
 Have to  Want to


Let’s try to use it in the usual ‘dieting parlance’:
1)Instead of saying : I have a party to attend, but I’m on a diet
Say: I have a party to attend and I’m on a diet.

According to Prof Roth-using the word ‘but’ just creates a conflict or a reason for something that actually doesn’t exist. By replacing it with ‘and’ you remove the conflict and simply find a solution to do both. Maybe you’ll chose to eat something before going to the party or chose wisely or control the portion size at the party. Here are a couple of articles that can help you to choose wisely and enjoy the party while still not going overboard as far as your diet is concerned:


2) Instead of saying: I have to eat right.
Say: I want to eat right!
Again, this subtle word swap helps in realizing that what you chose to do, even if they are difficult, are in fact what you have chosen to do for a healthier life.

3)Along with these two, it would also help is if you could swap the word “diet” for “lifestyle change”.
A ‘diet’ brings a mental image of a very restrictive, boring and unappetizing foods which doesn’t in anyway help you in sticking to it. A lifestyle change sounds so much better and incorporates not just changes in what you eat but also includes other factors like physical activity that will together change the quality of your life.
So instead of saying: I have to go on a diet.
Say: want to change my lifestyle.

Make these 3 swaps and you could be on your way to leading a healthier life!

Sweta Uchil

Online Indian Dietitian


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!

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 .