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.


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.