Seeds 101

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by?

As you know, “Nutrition Works” is the name of my own Nutrition Label under which I have a chocolate-cake (and another lemon-cake in pipeline) which many of you have ordered multiple times and loved. Most heartening was the fact that the kids love it too. This proves that we don’t have to feed our kids (and ourselves, of course) all the unhealthy ingredients of a commercial-cake just because they like it. They like the healthier version, just fine too.

The week was exciting for me as after cakes, I have launched the second product which is a “Seeds Bar”. These seed-bars are handmade fresh on order, with clean/premium/natural ingredients and have no added sugar or oils. It is high in protein, good fats and fibre…good carbs too!

Today’s post had to be about seeds. In our daily diet, seeds are majorly missing. How many of us eat seeds on a regular basis? Nuts, we still manage but seeds, hardly. We forget to consume these little precious nutrition-dense nuggets that the nature has provided us with so magnanimously.

Let’s get acquainted with seeds today. And then you can add some to your diet if you want. However, make sure the type or quantity doesn’t have any medical contradictions and it aligns with your goals, if you have any.

What Are Seeds?

Seeds hold all the ingredients to start a whole new life some day, provided the conditions are right. That’s how full of wholesome nutrition they are. Nutrients such as:

  • Fibre
  • Good fats
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

When they are included in our diet as a part of well-balanced meal, they can help us in multiple way. Depending upon what and how much we eat, it can help us in many things such as:

  • Blood sugar control
  • Cholesterol
  • Digestion
  • Blood pressure

There are many seeds available for human consumption today. We have access to local as well as imported seeds. Our traditional Indian diets always included seeds such as sesame, pumpkin etc as per our seasonal and medicinal requirements.

Since it is not possible to cover all the seeds of the world here, let us today discuss 4 seeds that are highly popular and easily accessible for us. These are:

  1. Chia seeds
  2. Flax seeds
  3. Sesame seeds
  4. Pumpkin seeds

Each of these is a compact powerhouse in itself. Though every seed might not suit everyone but most of us can benefit from these for sure, in moderation and as a part of a well-balanced diet.

  1. Chia Seeds: Coming to limelight a few years back, these small black seeds are not to be confused with Indian basil/sabja seeds. Chia is Quite high in fibre and good fat especially Omega-3 (ALA form). It is also a very rich source of B1, manganese and magnesium.

Apart from this, chia seeds are high in polyphenols which is a potent antioxidant. With all these benefits, and as a part of well-balanced diet, chia seeds can effectively:

  • Improve sugar levels
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Reduce heart concerns
  • Increase satiety meaning can keep us full for long

2. Flax Seeds: Also called sometimes linseeds, flax seeds are also high on fibre and Omega-3 (ALA) however it is best to eat them roasted and ground. Flax seeds are also powerful antioxidants and can help reduce LDL levels when used as a part of well-balance diet.

Lignans, a kind of polyphenols found in flaxseeds especially is a phytoestrogen though it can help men also in certain cases. Other than this, flaxseeds can help with:

  • Sugar levels
  • Heart risks
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Reduces risk of certain cancers

3. Sesame Seeds: My favorite seeds (mostly because of til laddoos) and quite high in another lignan called sesamin, may effectively help with a lot of things including:

  • Estrogen concerns
  • Cholesterol concerns
  • Inflammation in body
  • Arthritis
  • General health and fitness

4. Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are rich in good fats, phosphorus and certain other minerals. A varied nutritional profile in pumpkin seeds can help in:

  • Reducing risk of bladder stones and other urinary discomforts
  • Improving menopausal symptoms 
  • Certain cancers
  • Helping with enlarged prostates
  • Lowering of blood cholesterol

There are a lot of other seeds available in market today such a basil/sabja seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pine seeds, poppy seeds etc. Even quinoa, wild rice and pomegranate (fruit) are seeds. These are easy to add to our diet as a part of salads, smoothies, bars etc. Just make sure you use in moderation and avoid any medical contradictions.

Hope you found today’s post useful. It skims the surface of seeds but that was the whole idea today. In case you wish to join me on Instagram, for regular stories on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation…here is the link:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday

Love, Health and Peace

Cholesterol: Part 2

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? 

First of all, a big thank you everyone, for the overwhelming response to my last post on cholesterol-Part 1. Yes, cholesterol and irregular lipid profiles have become so common these days that sometimes I wonder if what we eat is what our kids eat too, what are we doing to the next generation…and the next!

Anyways, let’s move away from that scary thought and see how we can try and start some preventive work or repair work or…at least some maintenance, if nothing else.

In my last Friday’s post, we have already seen what cholesterol is, why we actually need it and how it moves around our body with our blood and do some things for critical for our survival…and when irregular, create a lot of damage on the other hand. We also saw the normal parameters for cholesterol levels in blood and what could cause these elevated cholesterol levels.

If you missed it, you can read it here

Today, let us see what can be done for these elevated cholesterol levels. Before we begin, let me put a disclaimer here. Many a times, an irregular lipid profile is accompanied by a host of other health complications. Many a times, it could be a plain dietary issue and sometimes it is caused by other underlying factors.

Whatever we decide to do, we have to make sure it does not contradict any other conditions or medications that we have/take.

Having said that, now we know that the liver makes cholesterol and lipoproteins both. Lipoproteins hold this cholesterol and transport it to the rest of the body through blood. These lipoproteins can be divided into two broad categories:

  1. LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein – termed often as bad cholesterol because it carries the cholesterol to our arteries and gets deposited there, resulting in atherosclerosis (aka plaque formation) i.e. narrowing of arteries
  2. HDL – High Density Lipoprotein – often termed as good cholesterol as it cleans the blood of LDL cholesterol by taking it back to liver

Knowing this, the repair process needs to be a multi-pronged approach. This approach needs to have dietary changes as well as lifestyle changes. You want change, you make change.  Long-term substantial changes!

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Weight loss if one is overweight – losing even a few kgs help tremendously in keeping the cholesterol levels in control
  • Regular physical activity – the primary reason I keep talking about the importance of some form of regular exercise is because it is very important for good health. Not only it enhances the effect of a good diet (and vice versa) but goes hand-in-hand. One can choose the activity as per their preferences but doing it with consistency is crucial, not just for lowering cholesterol levels but for a host of other benefits
  • Quitting smoking – in all forms
  • Quitting or severely reducing the alcohol consumption

Dietary Changes:

  • Choose the saturated fats carefully. Not all saturated fats are created equals and saturated fats come from all kind of sources – good and bad. The non-vegetarians here need to be even more careful because the saturated fats coming from red meats could be quite high on saturated fats
  • Avoiding trans fats and this entails avoiding all junk foods especially which have partially hydrogenated vegetable oils mentioned on the packaging
  • Re-evaluate daily fibre intake. Having a diet with lot of veggies and some fruits should take care of this. Again, we can choose as per our preference and the availability
  • Re-evaluate the omega-3 consumption. Most of us do require some helpful Omega-3 in our daily diet. One can choose the options as per one’s preferences and availability
  • More dietary changes might be made carefully, keep the person’s medical requirements and contradictions

If the levels are quite elevated, the doctor might put the person on medication. However, making dietary and lifestyle changes would still be required. And should be made regardless. These might help in keeping the dosages low or even go completely off them, in some time.

Hope today’s post help you in some way. Do share with people who you think might benefit from it. To join me on Instagram (I have exited Facebook and Twitter now), here is the link:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Cholesterol: Part 1

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Hope the past week was good for you. 

These days, lot of us have become health-conscious to some degree. This degree of consciousness and dedication to follow through, differs greatly yes, but it’s great to see more and more people eating healthy. Or at least talking about it.

What is the big deal about just talking? For me, it is. You have no idea how many people I meet in daily life who would laugh and simply refuse to eat healthy or get some basic-level exercise. 

Their reasons vary from “You Only live Once”, “No Time“, to “Whatever Happens, Happens”. And who am I to judge anyone? Slowly and slowly, I have started to understand that the need to eat healthy and be healthy, needs to come from within. If one is not ready, one is not ready.

Anyways, today’s post is about cholesterol. I have been asked many a times to write about cholesterol. A majority of us, suffer from high cholesterol issues and constantly elevated cholesterol could lead to serious problems, very soon if left unattended.

However, a majority of us are not even aware of our elevated cholesterol levels till we actually visit a doctor or get a blood test done.

So, What Exactly Is Cholesterol?

A type of waxy, fat-like substance, cholesterol is a type of lipid. It is also the most abundant steroid in our body. Contrary to the popular belief of cholesterol only coming in our body from outside through our diet, it is actually also produced inside our body, by liver.

Why Does Liver Produce Cholesterol?

Liver has to, because cholesterol is important for our survival as it:

  • Is needed for formation of cell walls
  • Plays an important part in digestive process in our body
  • Is needed for production of certain hormones
  • Is needed for our body to make Vitamin D

Now, the liver also makes lipoproteins which hold this cholesterol (and triglycerides- but we will come to these some other day) and transport it to the rest of the body through blood. Cholesterol can’t travel on its own, you see.

When we talk about cholesterol, what we really mean is these lipoproteins. These lipoproteins can be divided into two broad categories:

  1. LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein – termed often as bad cholesterol because it carries the cholesterol to our arteries and gets deposited there, resulting in atherosclerosis (aka plaque formation) i.e. narrowing of arteries
  2. HDL – High Density Lipoprotein – often termed as good cholesterol as it cleans the blood of LDL cholesterol by taking it back to liver for disposal

Too much of LDL in our blood is not a good news.

Why Worry About Elevated Cholesterol Levels?

As I said earlier, most of us not even aware of our cholesterol levels till we do a blood test or till something major happens. And that is why, annual blood check-ups are important, not just to check for cholesterol but for many other reasons.

This silent killer can lead us to:

  • All sorts of heart issues and a heart attack eventually
  • Chest pain
  • High BP
  • Stroke
  • Kidney issues
  • Obesity which yes, in itself causes so many complications

Broadly and this means total cholesterol levels, including HDL and LDL:

  • less than 200 gm/DL cholesterol in blood is good
  • 200-239 ml/DL is borderline high and you need to see your doc first and then, a nutritionist for some diet and lifestyle overhauling
  • 240 mg/DL is high and the doctor might put you on medication. However diet and lifestyle changes are still needed. Lot of us make the mistake of doing nothing corrective, thinking that medication alone would keep them safe

If you ask me, and even if the total cholesterol levels are fine but my LDL is high, I would still worry and start the overhauling process. So, if the LDL levels are more than 130 mg/DL, I would get a medical opinion to assess the situation. And start putting in some serious overhauling efforts.

As for HDL levels, less than 40mg/DL is risky and 40-59 is borderline low. What we want is a HDL reading of 60mg/DL and above.

High Risk Categories

Anyone who is 20 years and older, can have an elevated cholesterol level but one is at high risk if:

  • There is a family history of high cholesterol or heart ailments
  • The lifestyle is sedentary i.e. no physical activity
  • The person falls under obese category
  • The person has diabetes, liver, thyroid or kidney issues
  • PCOS
  • The person smokes or consumes tobacco products
  • The person consumes diet high in junk food and unhealthy saturated and trans fats
  • Certain drugs/medications

This post is already long enough. On how to work towards better cholesterol levels in body, please stay tuned for the sequel of today’s post, next Friday. 

Do join me on Instagram as I keep sharing info and tips on health, nutrition, fitness and…motivation in my stories, on a regular basis.

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

You Can’t Out-Run A Bad Diet

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? Hope all is good at your end. 

The covid cases are soaring again with a new variant, though thankfully, the symptoms are much milder now for everyone. Hope the numbers would start declining soon and this pandemic would disappear, forever! 

Today’s post is about a myth so prevalent in the society and more so, in fitness-conscious people (because they at least do some form of regular exercise regularly!) that it would take hundreds of posts like this, to even change the mindset just a bit.

And the fact is – One can’t outrun or out-exercise a bad diet!

Many of us make this mistake and in past, I used to do it too…workout to burn calories. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad thing necessarily. It is important to keep a tab on our daily (or weekly) calorie intake as well as creating a calorie deficit to maintain or lose weight. So, burning calories to stay in a negative, is crucial.

The problem starts when:

  • We try to create the deficit through unhealthy dietary choices
  • We eat unhealthy and then try to take our regular exercise routine ONLY as a mean to burn calories

The thing is, for optimum health and a normal blood report, one needs to eat well. One just can’t NOT eat healthy and think that they will burn all the bad/excess diet through the workouts next day and stay fit or even, healthy. Doesn’t work like that!

Why? 3 reasons why.

  1. We need to work a lot to burn calories from junk food. The exercise-cost (exercise needed to burn junk-calories) is pretty steep and bluntly put, not many can achieve it easily, on a consistent basis.

Do you know that a burger with fries and cola (even diet cola) would be around 1200 calories and to burn that off, one would require more than 208 minutes of walking?? Can you?

A plate of 8 fried momos with mayo…more than 1000 calories…just run for about 104 minutes, to “burn it off”, would you?

  • Exercise should be a consistent, gradual process. One that is enjoyable at least to some degree…to stay healthy and to be able to move. It is not a punishment for eating food.

In the whole weight-management or weight loss game, the contribution of exercise is quite low – about 20%. Rest 80% is your diet.

Exercise should be a non-negotiable part of our daily lifestyle no doubt, but for countless other reasons (strength, functionality, moods, joints, healthy aging, better sleep etc.) and not just burning calories. That 20% can be the game-changer for various reasons!

  • This ‘exercise-cost’ mindset destroys our relationship with food and our own body/mind 

It is a risky attitude to develop. It can result into eating disorders or excessive exercising which are both huge complications, on their own. It can become a psychological trap for the person.

Food is all about essential nutrients, fuel for our body and even enjoyment. Punishing ourselves for it, is never a great idea!

Also, it would be worth keeping in mind that though fitness is the next ladder to health…it necessarily doesn’t mean one and the same thing. The blood-work and mobility are the ultimate judges!

Now, that we have some hard facts on hand, how about we start trying to keep both the two things separate? Food is food, nourishment for our body and exercise is super-important for mobility, functional strength (strength for carrying day to day activities) and of course, burning that stubborn fat!

Hope the post today resonates with you and helps you understand that finding exercise cost of the junk food that we eat frequently (not once in a week kind) is not going to work at all!

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Count Your Fibre too!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? It is the last day of 2021 today and I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Have you made any new year resolutions? Do share 🙂

I haven’t made any for the last 3 years. I am too impatient to wait for the new year to start on a resolution or something new ?. I did make one about having one fruit every day, the last time I made one. My diet then, seriously lacked fruits and thankfully, I have managed to stick to it till today.

Today’s post is on fibre. I have written on it earlier also. On my cake labels, I mention fibre also along with calories, protein, carbs and fats. Someone wondered why I mention fibre, hardly anyone does. And right there I knew that I have to write on fibre again.

It might be highly under-rated especially when we calculate macros but for our body, it is very important. Right now, it is clubbed under carbohydrates but I am pretty sure that soon, it would occupy its own place of honor as the 7th major nutrient group.

What is fibre?

We associate fibre with easy bowel movement and that’s all, right? This is so far from the truth!

The world is now waking up to gut-flora and friendly bacteria. Words like probiotic and prebiotic are now gaining momentum. Till now, we associated intestines with just digestion and bowel movement.

Today, we know that our intestines are way, way more than just that! It is like a second brain out  there, in our gut!

Dietary fibre is the indigestible part of the plant-based foods such as cereals, veggies and fruits. It is included in carbohydrates group of macronutrients. So, basically any carbohydrates that we can’t digest, are fibre. Fibre:

  • Helps in keeping our digestive system in good shape
  • Relieves constipation, helps in IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and prevents hemorrhoids
  • Helps in heart-diseases management
  • Lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol
  • Reduces risks of certain types of cancers such as bowel and breast cancers
  • Helps in weight management and obesity
  • Helps in diabetes management – by keeping sugar-levels in check
  • Helps in hormonal balance
  • Helps in keeping the gut-flora flourishing and this alone leads to huge benefits in terms of overall health, including mental health (sounds strange, right?)
  • Reducing inflammation in body and supporting immune system

Types of Fibre

There are two types of fibre, depending upon their solubility in water. Most foods contain both the types in varying ratios.

  • Soluble – Soluble fibre absorbs lot of water and bulks up our stool for easy movement as well as in slowing down of digestion. Can be metabolized by the good gut bacteria. Good sources of soluble fibre are:
  • Bran – from oats, barley
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Legumes, lentils, bean etc.
  • Soy milk and soy products
  • flaxseed
  • psyllium
  • Insoluble – Insoluble fibre does opposite of what soluble fibre does. It does not absorb water and it actually slows down the time that food spends in our intestines. Good sources include:
  • Bran – wheat, rice and corn etc.
  • Peels/skin of fruits and veggies
  • Wholegrain foods
  • Nuts and seeds

Then there is resistant starch which is not really fibre but works like it. This is also very important for our gut bacteria. Out gut-bacteria thrive on it and convert it into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are super-important for our cholesterol levels as well as bowel health. Good sources of resistant starch are:

  • Potatoes
  • Bananas – unripe
  • Lentils
  • Unprocessed cereals and grains

How Much Fibre In A Day?

The recommended fibre intake for adults is 25 gm for women and 30-38 gm for men. For children, depending upon their age, it ranges from 18g to 28 g, boys needing a bit more than the girls.

Fibre is important for everyone and even more so, for older people since their digestion tends to slow down with age.

It is not difficult to achieve these figures provided we add these to our diet on a daily basis:

  • Wholegrains and wholegrain products such as breads, atta etc
  • Breakfast cereals such as – oats, wheat, barley
  • Quinoa, chia seeds, fresh coconut, dark chocolate, popcorn
  • Adding more veggies and fruits to our diet especially apples, pears, berries, bananas, beetroots, carrots, sweet potatoes, methi and other leafy vegetables as well as green beans
  • Eating peels and skins with our fruits and veggies, whenever edible
  • Adding legumes – pulses, beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Adding dried fruits and nut in our diet (in moderation) such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkins/sunflower seeds

In The End

  • Make sure to consume lot of water while upping your daily dietary fibre intake
  • Make sure to increase your dietary fibre intake slowly to avoid any abdominal discomfort
  • Very high-fibre diet (40gms or more) are linked to various nutritional deficiencies as well
  • Fibre supplements should only be taken after consulting with your doctor or nutritionist

Hope you found today’s post useful. Do join me on Instagram for more such info, on this link

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Happy New Year once again and till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Intuitive Eating: The Key To Good Health

Hi friends, happy Friday! How was the week that went by?

My blog last Friday was part 3 of the Weight Loss series and the third tool that I shared with you was Diet Composition. Am happy that so many of you found the whole series useful.

When I was writing it, I was not sure what I should write. I did not want to talk about food in terms of protein, carbs and fats. Everybody’s requirement is different…and each nutrient is super-important!

Always counting these macronutrients is not necessary unless you have a specific goal or seek disease management. Food is way more than these macronutrients. If you are eating clean and mostly whole foods…with a lot of variety in your diet in terms of grains, veggies and fruits, you are sorted for life.

And am glad that no one asked me about how much protein to consume every day and how much fats. There are general guidelines for that too, yes. But am glad that some of you asked me to write more about intuitive eating instead. I mentioned intuitive eating in my last blog and if you missed the post, you can read it here.

You can also join me on Instagram here, if you wish so:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Now, coming back to today’s post and intuitive eating, let’s see what it is.

In my opinion, it is a part of staying mindful package. Mindfulness about when we feel hungry and when to stop eating is intuitive eating. It sounds super simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, most of us struggle with this part the hardest. However once achieved, it stays lifelong because our body refuses to accept it any other way once it gets used to mindful eating, or mindful consumption in general.

In my experience as a Nutritionist and a Health Coach, intuitive eating is a very hard part to reach but it’s the key to everything that we want. It is easy for me to tell you how much protein and how much fats and how many calories to take…and you would be able to apply it immediately. The hardest part is staying mindful about eating and that needs to come from within us.

What Is Intuitive Eating?

It is basically a philosophy that asks us to listen to our body and the hunger signals it sends. The body knows the whole process very well (it is a very, very complicated process, trust me) and as a baby it is very common to see. A baby cries when she/he is hungry and is happy when her/his tummy is full. Simple, isn’t it?

As we grow up and in the whole process of growing up, we start faltering and sometimes get too busy to be mindful of our own body.

Intuitive eating is also known as “anti-diet eating” as we are not restricting ourselves from eating anything but eating ONLY WHEN our body asks us to…by sending hunger cues.

I often also get my cues in terms of cravings. Last month, for 7-8 days what I kept craving is buttermilk! I like buttermilk but I am not crazy about it. That week I went crazy for buttermilk….I had almost a litre of buttermilk everyday! I didn’t think about it much. If my body is telling me to have buttermilk then I shall have buttermilk !

Is It Easy?

For many of us, it is not. It is a whole re-learning process and we need to understand how to listen to our body and trust it.

We need to trust our body…and the body needs to trust us back that we are not going to starve it or deprive it of nutrients (even carbs and fats), when it needs.

Getting this whole equation in place is a delicate job and requires effort on our part. It isn’t easy.

How To Work Towards Intuitive Eating?

First we need to understand that when our body craves a particular food, it can be:

  1. Physical Hunger – The body has a very neat system in place for almost everything. When it needs nutrients for replenishment or energy-requirement, it tells us explicitly to eat. Our stomach growls, we become irritable when we do not eat soon and we feel weak. Internally, lot of things happen too.
  2. Emotional hunger – Many of us eat when we feel anxious or because our favorite foods bring us comfort. The whole reward system that our brain creates, to feel happy and release happy hormones…brings momentary happiness often followed by varying degrees of guilt or even more anxiety!
  3. Lack of certain nutrients – We crave sweets when we cut carbs too much. We might also are low in certain vitamins when we crave sweets or chocolates. Many a times, it is our brain reward system in action too, so we need to know it’s not that, first.

There are a few principles of intuitive eating as the concept is very old. Various books have been written and researches have been done in past, since early 1970s. The key principles of this approach to food are simple but require a good effort on our part:

  1. Not being scared of food
  2. Eating as per our health requirements without being scared of eating. One day eating healthy and next day eating pizza, won’t change anything. It needs consistency but to know that one meal won’t make a difference any which ways
  3. No cutting of entire food groups from diet
  4. Choosing cleaner and healthier versions of food
  5. Do not go on fad-diets or starve yourself
  6. Eat when the body tells to without much delay
  7. Stop as soon as you are full. A very important part is to understand the comfortable fullness when eating
  8. Enjoy the food. Sit down to eat, eat without distractions and chew slowly enjoying every bite
  9. Learning to separate our feelings from food. The hardest part in my opinion! This can be achieved by channelling our brain to other activities that bring the same pleasure that we otherwise tend to derive from food
  10. Staying physically active. This helps in so many ways and it is sad to see it so underrated
  11. Loving oneself. If something worries us, we can take corrective action. However, we need to be proud of this great gift, this great miracle called a healthy body, given to us. It is so precise, so well-made that it inspires awe and definitely not shame. It is not the body’s fault if we ignore its health, for any reason.

It is important to eat intuitively for our physical health and mental/psychological health, both. It is a sustainable lifestyle habit and it improves our self-esteem. Not that it is easy but then which good thing in life, comes easy?

Hope you found today’s post interesting and useful.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Weight Loss-3: Diet Composition

Hi friends, how are you all? All good, I am sure. And even if there was something that is bothering you, I am sure you will soon find a way out ?

It has been quite a hectic week for me too as I finally presented Nutrition Works (my own nutrition label) to you and the world. Not in a big way still, until I am able to add more products to it. Do try the super-yummy chocolate cake, made clean and fresh, without added sugars/additives and with mixed flours…that can be customized as per your preferences/diet/medical concerns (while retaining the core-deliciousness).

My belief that one can eat healthier and cleaner with a little effort holds true with this chocolate cake (and with other products that I would introduce soon, hopefully).

To add to the chaos, my help hasn’t been around and the younger one had a birthday party planned. So, between the clients, chores, cakes, birthday planning/buying, online schooling/reviews and some time for myself and my studies…it was crazy! Good crazy though ?

Coming back to the post today, we now come to the third and the last post of ‘’Weight Loss’’ series. With this series, I have tried to give you a very important tool so that you can decide what works best for you. And that tool is – knowledge which brings the power to make right decisions, for oneself.

Because there are no thumb rules. Neither in nutrition nor in fitness. What is right for me might not be right for you. What works for you might not work for me.

And that brings us to diet composition.

What is Diet Composition?

In simple terms, diet composition is the combination or percentage of various major nutrients of our diet. The carbs, the fats, the protein, the fibre and of course, other micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, polyphenols etc).

A balanced diet would provide us with enough energy to go through the day as well as enough nutrients to maintain good body composition and…health. Sometimes, diet might be able to provide adequate energy but isn’t well-balanced! Sometimes, it can create energy-imbalance.

How much of each (as well the quality of each nutrient), is a good question and it all depends on our goals. For good health in general, it is easy to achieve though. How? We will come to it, shortly.

Just calorie-counting is incomplete in itself if the calories comes from unhealthy sources or result in nutritional deficiencies/malnutrition.

The Downside

There is a downside to diet composition too, yes. And we bring it in ourselves when we become obsessed with counting every single carb or eliminating an entire food group, from our diet…or add too much of good thing beyond our actual requirements.

So, What To Do?

There are a few things that we all could do when it comes to eating a well-balanced diet and though these would differ slightly from one person to another, due to a lot of factors including individual goals…these still hold true at a foundation level:

  • We can practice intuitive eating for one. This means that we eat when we are really hungry and not to find comfort in food. It is also an anti- crash dieting approach to food
  • Keeping ourselves occupied with things that we like can keep us stress-free. This in turn, helps us with keeping our diet (and life) on track
  • Stay active physically
  • We must eat a variety of food on a daily basis. This means that we experiment with healthier options and include all sorts of grains, vegetables and fruits to our diet. Of course, one would take care of medical concerns here and avoid foods that create contradictions with certain medical conditions/medications etc
  • Do not exclude specific food groups from diet. One can increase or decrease certain components e.g. you could add protein a little more if you are physically more active however, including everything on a daily basis helps tremendously. One can always look for alternatives if one is allergic or uncomfortable with a certain food-item
  • Keeping food clean is very important. This simple means that we reduce our consumption of highly processed food and food that we already know is doing us no good. Do notice that I said, reduce…not completely stop. It can be gradual process and a sustainable approach to food works best, in my experience
  • Practice mindful eating. Please take 10 minutes to sit quietly and enjoy the food. Observe how it tasted and how it made you feel. Chew slowly. Follow your hunger and satiety cues. And this would only happen if we make a conscious effort towards listening to our body
  • Moderation is the key to a sustainable health plan. However, some things such as smoking, are best completely quit

In the end, if general good health is our goal, the above-mentioned points would serve us well. If we have specific goals in mind or we seek disease management, best to get professional help.

Hope you found this post (and this series) helpful. Do share with people who you think might benefit from these post. In case you wish to join me on Instagram, here is the link to it:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday

Love, Heath & Peace

Weight Loss 2: Body Composition

Hi friends, how are you all?

In my last post, we discussed metabolism, the very foundation of weight loss. You can read it here if you missed it. We also discussed why we gain weight at all, in the first place.

In this series, I am not going to give you tips on how to lose/gain weight or how to maintain weight. What I am trying to do here is to explain, in simple terms a few things such as:

  1. Why do we gain weight?
  2. How can we lose weight sustainably?
  3. How not to worry if you are doing everything right but still not losing weight?
  4. How to lose fat and not muscles/water?
  5. How to keep that hard-earned weight-loss forever?

I firmly believe that even if weight loss/gain/management is not easy, it should be a healthy and steady process. One should be able to make healthier and informed choices.

As for question no. 1, weight gain can happen due to lot of factors such as:

  • Energy disbalance e.g. you eat more than your body burn
  • Diet composition – means that even if you eat less or okay in terms of calories but the composition is not optimum for you
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep quality
  • Stress
  • Hormonal profile
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Genetic factors – which is the reason for us to work harder rather than simply resigning to it. Afterall, it is just a higher-than-normal risk, not something that would necessarily come true!

Now that we know what are the most common reasons for gaining weight, we can see what is our weak area and work accordingly. I have written about it in past and on my Instagram stories, I keep sharing small tips and info for it too. You can join me on Instagram here, if you want:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Now, coming to the 3rd and 4th questions (will come to 2nd later), let us know what is body composition. It would tell us what kind of weight to lose and what kind to get on, even if it means no weight loss on your weighing scale!

Body Composition

Body composition is one reason why I wanted to be a Nutritionist as well as a Fitness Trainer, combined. I believe in a combined, holistic approach to health and fitness. Why? Because they go hand in hand, for optimal benefits.

In simple terms, body composition is the percentage of muscles, fat, water and minerals (e.g. bones) in our bodies. Two people with same weight can have very different body composition and thus, vary greatly in terms of overall health and fitness levels. For me (and most health experts), body composition is more important than just weight.

Body weight falling in average BMI category is very important yes, but after looking at BMI, it is also very important to have the right kind of fat/muscle percentage in the body. Too much of fat, especially around the belly area…even if your weight and BMI are normal, is still not healthy. It can lead to various diseases such as heart concerns, stroke, diabetes, obesity etc

Similarly unhealthy fad-diets, crash diets and prolonged fasting deplete our body of precious muscles. We might lose weight but most likely it would be muscles (and water and important minerals from our body). Not healthy again.

We any which ways lose muscles aka sarcopenia (and bone mass too) as we age and fastening the process with unhealthy diets and habits, just makes the matter worse.

How To Know Body Composition

There are several methods for it however, we might need one tool/machine or the other. Your nutritionist or fitness expert can help you with that. From basic tools like fat calipers to sophisticated BMI machines, pick whichever is accessible to you.

How To Achieve The Right Body Composition?

It isn’t hard. One needs to have a good balance of muscles, fats and minerals in body. Water too, of course but that’s for another day.

Right nutrition combined with a regular exercise routine can do that for anybody. It is that simple! Equally important is a right mindset which can learn to focus on a healthy weight, with a slow, steady and sustainable for life kind of approach. Throw in some muscles and you have got a winner!

Focus on:

  • Right nutrition within your calorie requirements
  • Having foods which are cleaner and satisfying
  • Ensure adequate protein and fibre intake
  • Physical activity and regular exercise
  • Good sleep quality
  • Avoid/low alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking

In The End

Just your weight is not an indication of good health and I am sure one can feel/notice that herself/himself. Good nutrition and regular exercise are critical for a good body composition and this comes with a host of other advantages such as strength and good health, in general.

Hoping that this second post today, in the series, helped you in understanding the basic concepts of weight loss.

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

pic credit: trifecta

Weight Loss Part 1: Metabolism

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going? I am sure, all good.

A few days back, in my Instagram stories, I ran an #ama (ask me anything) and all the questions I received on it, were about weight loss or about protein. We will come to protein some other day but let’s discuss the fundamentals of weight loss, today and in the next few posts. It is important to understand these basics of weight loss if that is your current goal.

Here is my Instagram link, in case you wish to join me there:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Weight loss and weight management are both not easy tasks, for anyone. Here, I said it. Let me also complete the paragraph by saying that it is not that hard either. A body achieves what a mind believes, isn’t it the truth?

However, it’s not as simple as losing weight through crash-diets or low-calorie diets or… long-hours/days of fasting coupled with binge-eating. Actions have consequences (good and bad) and what we eat (or not eat) impacts our health in a big way.

When we crash-diet or go on low-calorie diets, our body adapts in a lot of different ways and not all of them are positive. Our best bet is to lose weight slowly and steadily, in a healthy way – so that we can have a control over sagging skin, sunken eye’s/cheeks, hormonal irregularities, mental health concerns, slow metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, sustainability and so on…

And that is why I am starting today with first explaining a few terms that one needs to understand before undertaking a weight-loss journey, for it to be:

  • healthy
  • sustainable for life
  • bringing more positive changes as a bundle, rather then just unhealthy weight loss which would anyways make its appearance back soon, trust me

Let’s begin. Today’s post is about a word that we hear (and use) on a daily basis with ease however, if someone asks us to describe the word, I am sure most of us would not know how exactly to describe it. We know it, we are aware of it and yet, what it exactly means is not clear to most of us.

The word and topic of today’s blog is ‘Metabolism’. We use the word every day, in so many different contexts such as – “I need to boost my metabolism”, “I have a slow metabolism”, “this is good for metabolism” and “this boosts metabolism”, “she/he must have good metabolism, she/he never puts on any weight” and the kinds.

Let’s see what actually this mysterious metabolism is. To me, it seems that if we can figure this metabolism thing out, we can find solutions to many of our problems.

What Is Metabolism?

Simply put, whatever we eat or drink, is converted into energy for the body to use. The whole process of this converting food into energy is called metabolism. It is not a single-step process.

And we do need energy for everything that our body does – whether we run or rest. Body also needs energy for all the body functions that we don’t even see happening e.g. beating of our heart, circulation of blood, constant repair work inside cells, digestion and what not.

The very basic energy we require for our body’s basic functions is also called as Basal Metabolic Rate. This generally remains constant for a person and it takes considerable effort to change it. It also varies from one person to another due to many factors, such as:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Body composition
  • Body size

Metabolism, to be honest, on its own has very little to do with weight loss per se. Shocking, right! It is true. So, unless one suffers from hypothyroidism or any other medical problem which actually affects metabolism, we can’t blame metabolism for our weight gain.

You see, weight gain happens due to lot of factors such as:

  • Energy disbalance e.g. you eat more than your body burn
  • Diet composition – means that even if you eat less or okay in terms of calories but the composition is not optimum for you
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep quality
  • Stress
  • Hormonal profile
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Genetic

Then Why Worry About Metabolism?

If it is not important why do we even worry about metabolism?  No point doing any sort of physical activity also if metabolism can’t be changed, right?

Wrong. Metabolism is important. In a way you probably never even looked at. Remember what I said when we began this post. The factors that affect weight-management. Recall the third point or scroll up. Right, body composition! And then, there is diet composition.

I have thrown probably two news terms at you today and may I say, of utmost importance. These are:

  • Diet composition – what our diet is made of or macronutrients (and even micronutrients) such as carbs, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals etc.
  • Body Composition – what our body is made of. Muscles or fat? What is their percentage? How much are the bones?

Now that you started to get it, let’s stop here today. Let it get absorbed. Think about these two words, their meaning and see where do you stand in both these terms.

Now, what to do about these terms, would follow in the subsequent posts and I will also keep sharing little nuggets of info (and motivation – super important, if you ask me) to work on these in my daily Instagram stories.

Hope you find what I write, useful and that it helps you in your goals and lifestyle modification efforts. All the best 🙂

Love, Health & Peace

Core Strength

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? I am sure, went good.

Good for me too. I have soft-launched the first product from my ”Nutrition-Range”- a clean and delicious chocolate cake (available in all kinds of options – vegan, eggless, gluten-free etc.) and I hope to go about it in a bigger way once the brand/logo gets registered and the FSSAI registration is completed too.

Till then, it is just the chocolate cake but I owe you all a big “THANK YOU” (especially to those who ordered and gave positive feedbacks). I am glad you loved it and my belief that delicious food can easily be made clean/healthy with a little extra effort, holds true.

Coming back to today’s post, I want to talk about core strength. I see so many of us struggle with things and movements in life because of core-strength, without even knowing we lack in it. Unfortunately, if we don’t know, we can’t work on it and we keep suffering.

Core strength can change the quality of life, for most of us…and still we never worry about it because we never knew. Let’s change that today.

So important I find it that when I start my fitness studio (due in another 4-5 months once I complete my ACSM certification), I am primarily going to focus on core strength and movements initially. It takes a while but the results are phenomenal, trust me.

Let us see what core strength is.

First, What Is Core?

In loose terms, core is our body without limbs. Core is central to our existence. The muscles in our body (without limbs) including those in our chest, abdomen and pelvis, stabilize our body and the posture.

And Core Strength?

The stronger these muscles are, the better control we have on our body. Overall core strength actually involves many different muscles working in sync, to stabilize our spine, hip area (pelvis) and attached muscles. Not only all these muscles need to be strong but they also need to learn to work together.

The benefits of a strong core would be:

  • It stabilizes our body allowing us easy and free movements with balance
  • As it provides us balance and control, our risk of falling becomes less. Less falling, less injuries
  • It provides proper posture to our body. Better posture means less pains and less injuries
  • Everyday acts/movements become easier including household chores, bending, turning, sitting, standing etc.
  • Very Important for people who work desk-jobs to avoid postural pains
  • Lowers risk of back pain and injuries
  • Provides good posture
  • Very important for runners as well – do not underestimate core, if you run
  • Strength and balance as we age

How To Know If We Have A Weak Core?

We can take the core test also, to see where one stands. Will come to that a little later. Meanwhile, here are a few signs that would tell you that you have a weak core, without even taking any test.

  • If your back hurts after standing or even sitting for a while, you have a weak core
  • Frequent lower back pains
  • Poor posture – e.g. rounded back/hunching or drooping shoulders
  • Poor balance in general
  • Get breathless with little exertion
  • Can’t stand for long and feel a general weakness in body and body strength

Now, Core Test

There are many core-tests that one can take to assess the core strength but the easiest one is the 60-sec plank.

All you need is a mat on floor and hold yourself in plank position on elbows. If you can hold for 60 seconds, you have good core strength and if you cannot, you do not.

If you are able to complete 60 sec plank, try one sit-up and a side plank on elbows. It you can, congratulations. It is time to move up the ladder!!

How To Strengthen Core

If you cannot complete these basic tests and show/have one or many signs of a weak core as we discussed above, do not worry. It can be worked upon. Slowly and steadily though. Do not be in a hurry or you would cause more damage than gains.

I am going to share some beginner’s exercises only because it is important that you start under supervision to avoid injuries. However, if you know the proper form, ONLY THEN include these exercises in your daily routine.

  • Bridge
  • Crunch and bicycle crunch – if you have existing back pain, go very slow
  • Supine Toe -Tap
  • Bird-Dog move
  • Mountain climbers – go slow
  • Basic plank on elbows – start with however much you can hold and slowly increase the duration to 60 seconds

However, I will repeat, it is important to start under supervision to avoid injuries and if you have existing back-pain etc, go very, very slow.

It’s a slow process but the payback is huge. It improves the overall quality of our life.

Hope you found today’s post useful. Check out my Insta-feed to see that over a period of 2 years, where I have reached in terms of core strength. You can too.


https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWvFs1RjqOI/?utm_medium=copy_link

Stay consistent, give just 1-hour every day to yourself (5 days a week is good) for your fitness routine, eat well and see the magic happen. I kid you not!

Love, Health & Peace