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 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

Part 2: Foods Rich In Antioxidants

Hi friends, Happy Friday! Happy Guru Parab and Kartik Purnima too!

I am so happy to be back after a gap of two weeks. Was taking a pause with family and the added classes/studies for Certified Personal Trainer from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) did not make it any easier. It is a lot crazy right now and I really want to insert a crying emoji for better effects but I don’t think I can do that on my laptop.

Anyways, how have you been? Hope life is going crazily good for you 😊

Today’s post, the part deux of Antioxidants, has been long due. Do read the part 1 of the Antioxidants Series here if you missed it or need to recall something. In it, we already understood what are free radicals, what is oxidation as well as oxidative stress and, what exactly are antioxidants.

There are several factors that can shake the balance of free radicals/antioxidants and cause the oxidative stress. These factors could be:

  • Pollution
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Radiations
  • Poor diet choices
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections such as bacterial, fungal or viral
  • Excessive intake of minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium as well as of Vitamins C and E
  • Exercising too much

Antioxidants are essential for our survival and we need to support our body in keeping this balancing act, strong. Without antioxidants, major damage would happen to our body and it won’t survive for long!

How?

Do not worry much. It is not possible to completely avoid the damage done by oxidative stress. However, there are things we could do to minimize their effects on our body and ensure a disease free, long, healthy life.

One way is through our diet. Antioxidants are found abundantly in various foods, apart from being produced in our body on its own. Make sure to have a healthy, well-balance diet and include the foods below in it:

  • Rajma (kidney beans)
  • Dark leafy greens – spinach, methi, kale, broccoli, tomato, bok choy, lemon grass
  • Beans – broad beans (sem fali)
  • Beetroot, carrot, olives, onions, garlic
  • Amla (Indian gooseberry), lemon and other citrus fruits
  • Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries
  • Cherries, prunes, stone apple (bael fruit), avocadoes, bananas, pomegranate, apricots, grapes
  • Nuts
  • Cocoa or dark chocolate (80% and above cocao content)
  • Artichokes – steaming them ensures the best antioxidant content
  • Red or purple cabbage – 4 times the regular cooked cabbage due to the red pigment anthocyanin
  • Microgreens
  • Barley flour (bajra)
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin E, C and melatonin

Antioxidants are easy to add to the diet. There are so many options to suit all budgets and tastes. You don’t even have to calculate much, there are two simple rules:

  1. Add a variety to your diet
  2. Add colours (preferably in veggies)

Other than diet, there are a few other ways to decrease the oxidative stress in our body. These are:

  • Care for the environment and the Earth. Doing our own small bits towards reducing pollution and wastage of resources go a long way. Being mindful of our actions and their consequences to the planet/animals/humanity in general, keeps us happy and safe too
  • A regular exercise routine at moderate intensity works wonders
  • Quitting smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, both
  • Quit or reduce alcohol consumption
  • Do not overeat and keep a routine for meals/snacks
  • Reducing our exposure to chemicals, pesticides, cleaning agents etc helps
  • Sunscreens help and I, personally struggle with this one…I always forget to put it on and these days, I have been trying to be mindful for it 😊
  • Adequate sleep – differs from person to person but 6 hours of good sleep is adequate for most of us
  • Stress management

In the end, the important thing is to take care of yourself, your loved ones and Mother Earth. We will automatically be taken care of!

It is also time we start paying Mother Earth back for all that she gives us so patiently…to help us live and thrive even if we choose to do nothing in return. Not fair to give her nothing in return, wouldn’t you say?

Hope you found the series on antioxidants useful and it gave you food for thought…and some actual food ideas! Do join me on Instagram for regular updates on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation, here:

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

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Staying Healthy During Festivals

Hi friends, happy Friday!

I am sure everything is going alright and you are smashing the goals you set for yourself, for 2021…it’s almost the year-end! I know there still are two more months to go but the way the time flies by, is crazy and we will be there before we even know it.

But right now, the festive season is upon us and we get to be merry and give this year a grand farewell.

Today’s post was supposed to be the part 2 of the antioxidants post that I did last Friday. However, when many people asked for help with festive eating on DMs and Instagram, I had to put antioxidants aside for next week…and press the emergency button on festive eating. They needed help and I guess, many others do too. I am available on Instagram here, by the way:

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

It is funny how we stick to a routine for the whole year and give in to the festive-grind a little too much…and start back where we were at New Year’s. Only with added guilt and stress. Not healthy. Neither is giving up completely nor the guilt.

Truth be told, I don’t understand it. What is the issue here? Why do we need to even worry about this festival season? Ideally, it’s just another part of the year where we still need to practice mindful eating and staying active. That’s a life-long habit…it is supposed to be! Just because I ate sweets a few times won’t make my abs disappear suddenly…or increase my sugar levels permanently. The keyword here is few times.

And mindful eating sails us through any sort of days- festival, travelling or illness, it doesn’t matter.

Mindful eating lets us enjoy whatever we want to enjoy and being mindful also lets us be flexible. Just like a good diet/health plan should be – flexible and sustainable.

I have two questions for anyone with the same fear/dilemma:

  • Isn’t your health plan sustainable? Any good diet-plan should be sustainable and enjoyable
  • Second, would you be partying, eating sweets/delicacies starting from breakfast and late into night? For many days?

If the answer to first question is yes and the answer to second is no, I don’t see a problem. A couple of sweets, some heavy meals and some late-night partying, would not ruin it for us (and for anyone) provided we stayed on track, the rest of the year.

Good health is not a 21 days challenge or transformation. It is all about eating clean and balanced, day after day…it is about staying active and also about having no nutritional deficiencies as well as normal health parameters, including normal digestion.

Yes, if you have a particular goal in mind then you need to still be following your goal-plan but do know that 1-2 days of late nights and a few of festive meals won’t change it much. It is all about what you do the rest of the year!

However, having said all this, here are a few tips which would help you stay in control and on track with your goals:

  • Keep the days as normal as possible. Do not skip meals just because you are going to have a lavish dinner in night. You would end up over-eating, for sure
  • Keep the normal meals of your day heavy on veggies and include probiotics in it, to avoid unnecessary bloating and acidity. curd, curd-rice, whole grains, whole foods are great for the purpose
  • Do not leave the house hungry, have something light before you leave
  • Keep drinking water when you are out. I am sure washroom would be accessible wherever you are. In fact, the extra trips to washroom might earn your extra NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis)
  • Skip mocktails and sugary beverages. This itself would help tremendously. Take a buttermilk if eating out at a restaurant. Water is always available everywhere any which ways
  • Moderate your food consumption, stick to small quantities and split your dessert with someone
  • Enjoy the food and chew slowly…feel the flavors
  • In fact, it would be a great idea to stick to only the festival-specific food and sweets. What is the point of gobbling up all the food in one go if it is available through the year easily e.g. bhakerwadi, chakli, cookies, chocolates etc
  • Pick up some salad by default. Make sure you fill 25-30% of your plate with fresh veggies. However, be careful with the dressings such as mayo etc
  • Most people serve dry fruits today, along with sweets. Swap some for sweets and cookies. Ditto with fresh fruits, if available

Let us remember that in festive times, what matters most is the festive vibe. Celebrating the festival with family and friends is such a fresh breath of air! Let it recharge us, take a much-needed pause, look around, enjoy the beauty and decorations everywhere… and stay surrounded with our loved ones and enjoy. Vibe high!

Also, let us not feel bad when someone tries to pressurize us into eating when we don’t want to and we say a firm NO…and when people try to make us feel guilty about picking up only half of that sweet. Let us not mock someone who is clearly trying to stay on-track. Let us not equate love to force-feeding and let us focus on the true traditions of the festival, the true sentiments behind it all.

Happy Deepawali in advance, my friends. Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Power Of Antioxidants

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? All good at my end too, thank you.

Today’s post is on antioxidants. Yes, the powerful antioxidants which are supposed to be a magical cure for everything, just like immunity these days. No, no, there is no sarcasm intended here, they both are truly magical and crucial to our survival.

And they are closely related, antioxidants and immunity. In fact, the whole human body is magical…so precise and self-sufficient. Hundreds of chemical reactions and synchronized movements makes it magical and I often find myself overwhelmed with the complexity of it all.

e.g. – Did you know that a human heart beats 1,00,000 times a day and the whole process of one beat and the blood pumping through our heart in itself involves an orchestral rhythm.  It involves 4 heart chambers, electric signaling in its nodes and multiple valves/blood vessels working in sync …and I have not even included lungs here!

Anyways, more on that some other day. Let’s come back to antioxidants for now.

First, let’s get familiar with free radicals and oxidative stress.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are molecules in our body with uneven no. of electrons. This uneven no. of electrons makes them unstable and they look for other molecule to attach themselves to. To create long-chain molecules. This process called oxidation, could be beneficial or it could be harmful.

Beneficial because our immunity depends on it. It fights the infections by attaching and de-activating the incoming infections just as well.

When there are too many free radicals in our body, it causes oxidative stress and high oxidative stress in our body, is not a good news. Like most things, there needs to be a balance.

Excess of free radicals or high oxidative stress in our body is linked to many diseases and even damage to our DNA structure. The other damages include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular illnesses including atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels)
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation and related conditions
  • High BP
  • Neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Aging

We don’t want all this damage, right? We want to keep a balance between the free radicals and the antioxidants in our body. Now the question is how to keep a balance.

Let’s get to know the antioxidants now.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in our body and keep a balance. Our body knows this and has the whole system in place for us, already.

However, lot of factors manage to shake this balance. These factors could range from:

  • Pollution
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Radiations
  • Poor diet choices
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections such as bacterial, fungal or viral
  • Excessive intake of minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium as well as of Vitamins C and E
  • Exercising too much

Now we know that antioxidants are essential for our survival. We also know that our body has a system in place for generating oxidants. In fact, all plants and animals have such a system in place. How can we help this system or strengthen it, in our body?

Through diet. And better lifestyle choices, of course.

Too much of anything, even of good antioxidants is bad. High-dose supplements should be avoided unless your doctor prescribed them for a specific reason.

And that is why having food rich in antioxidants is generally considered safer. It is very rare to consume high-dosages through diet alone and a good diet brings about a whole cluster of other good nutrients, apart from antioxidants.

I feel this post is long enough for today. Now we do understand various terms like oxidation, oxidative stress, free radicals, antioxidants etc. better and how the whole process works.

I shall cover the rest in my next post, next Friday. It would tell us how we can improve our antioxidant intake through diet and by making better lifestyle choices.

If you want to join me on Instagram for regular updates on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation, I am here:

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

A Must Read: Maltodextrin

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Happy Vijayadashami/Dussehra to you all!!

Anything exciting at your end this weekend? I for one, am pretty excited, about turning another chapter in this book called life. I have started the very renowned ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) certification for becoming a certified Fitness Trainer!

I already am an ACSM-certified nutritionist and with this new degree, I would finally be able to offer my clients a complete package of nutrition combined with fitness. For optimal health, they both need to go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

The next few months are going to be very hectic for me. It is a hard certification to complete and requires long hours of classes, associated certificates and self-study but despite all that, am looking forward to it 🙂

Coming back to today’s post, let me introduce you to maltodextrin today.  We need to be very careful when we consume packaged foods or even so-called ‘healthy foods’. Label reading is hard for most of us and dubious marketing claims don’t help either.  Most of the ‘healthy foods’ that I see around are still quite unhealthy especially if we consume them more, thinking that they are healthy.

The front side of the packaging tells us how healthy the product is and reading the back-side turns out to be a different story altogether.

e.g. just because the front of the packaging says sugar-free doesn’t mean that it is healthy by default. It could be high on fats (to make up for the lack of taste) or it could have unhealthy artificial sugars/sweeteners that could be even worse, in reality.

Maybe, with this post today, you would be a little more equipped to read labels and moderate your intake of maltodextrin. It is usually present in small, safe amounts in products and if we are careful, we can stay safe from its ill-effects.

What Is Maltodextrin?

In short, maltodextrin is a food additive. We can also call it an artificial sweetener even if it is less sweet than table sugar. It is a highly processed carbohydrate with no nutritional value and one that comes from mostly corn but also from rice, barley, wheat, tapioca or potato starch etc

The starch is put through hydrolysis process and further acids/enzymes etc are mixed into it to break it down and finally, the white, water-soluble powder is derived. This tasteless and odorless white powder is added to various foods (as an additive) to increase their shelf-life as well as improve their texture and taste.

In small quantities, its usage as a food additive is approved by govt. authorities worldwide.

Why Is It Even Made If It’s So Bad?

There are lots of additives, preservatives and fillers used in food industry and maltodextrin is one of those. It is a thickener or an additive. It is used to:

  • to increase the shelf life of the products
  • as a thickener to improve the texture of various puddings, sauces, salad dressings and gelatins
  • combine with other sweeteners to sweeten canned fruits, desserts and drinks
  • provide a quick boost of energy to athletes, by adding to sports drinks and other performance-snacks meant for them
  • provide a lot of calories pre/post/during-workout, to bodybuilders/athletes who are trying to gain quick body-weight without getting dehydrated in return
  • help people suffering with low sugar levels (hypoglycemia) as it provides quick boost in sugar-levels
  • in preventing colorectal cancer. Long story short, it prevents the tumor growth without any toxic after-effects
  • used as a thickener in various personal-care products such as lotions, shampoos etc

Then What Exactly Is The Problem Here?

  • The problem lies in it having a high GI (glycemic index)

Compared to regular sugar (GI 65), maltodextrin has a GI of 95-136. This could be good thing when we want a quick boost of energy or calories. For athletes etc, this might a good way to consume more calories and quick energy etc.

However, for diabetics especially, high GI index of maltodextrin and products containing it, doesn’t exactly sound like a good news. It spikes up the blood-sugar levels very quickly.

So, if one is diabetic, prediabetic or insulin-resistant, the maltodextrin consumption should be kept low and the daily carbohydrate count should be made to include maltodextrin into it.

  • Another reason to limit its consumption is its negative effect on our gut bacteria

This can easily compromise our immune system by causing a disbalance in our gut and the friendly bacteria residing there. Also, if one is at high risk for auto-immune or digestive disorders, one should keep maltodextrin consumption low.

  • Though after so much processing, maltodextrin becomes gluten-free. However, people with celiac disease or IBS, are advised to avoid it as the source might be wheat-starch
  • Many a times, people sensitive to MSG- Monosodium Glutamate (E621) are also sensitive to maltodextrin as the body processes both in the same way

How To Find It On Labels?

Now, this is an important question. We might know all about maltodextrin and might want to be aware about its consumption but how to ensure? Lot of packaged foods around us have it already and we might be consuming a lot of it, unknowingly.

Maltodextrin is a common ingredient in packaged foods, such as

  • beer, soft drinks and energy/sports drinks
  • meal replacement shakes
  • work-out supplements
  • low-fat and low calories food alternatives/substitutes
  • culinary additives by chef/restaurants
  • infant formula
  • meat substitutes
  • salad dressings
  • spices, sauces and ketchups
  • soups
  • yogurt, milk shakes
  • cereals
  • Instant meals/frozen meals
  • candies, sweets, desserts and baked goods
  • hair-care products, lotions etc

Here is how we can know that the product has maltodextrin. It can be made from any starchy food e.g. corn, potato, wheat, tapioca, or rice. If the label says – dextrin, maltodextrin, corn/wheat/potato starch, modified starch, starch solids etc, E1400…it means it has maltodextrin.

You see, it’s almost impossible to avoid maltodextrin in today’s time. It is also given a ‘safe’ status by various govt authorities however high consumption can lead to various ill-effects. The best solution is to:

  • consume less of junk and processed foods. We need to focus more on whole foods and home-cooked meals
  • stay aware of the ingredients in any case
  • one can find small brands using simple/clean/fresh ingredients for various food requirements as it is not possible for us to make/do everything at home, after all. Even then, keep an eye on ingredients
  • keep a food record whenever we find any allergies or recurring issues
  • to know that just because  a product is plant-based, vegan or gluten-free, it is not necessarily healthy

In the end, let’s keep the processed food consumption to minimum, adopt an active lifestyle free of stress and trust our bodies to handle whatever comes our way.

Rather than stressing over what is inevitable, let’s focus on how to minimize it by finding alternatives and keeping our bodies healthy, inside out.

Do join me on Instagram for more updates on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation here:

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

The Truth Of Green Potatoes

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Am happy to be back this Friday and a big thank you everyone, for your good wishes last week.

Today’s post is about potatoes…not ordinary potatoes though but the green ones!

We were cooking some gravy one day last week and I found a potato with a green part/stain. I promptly threw the whole potato in the trash. My Other Half thought we could have used it and that it was just a bit raw. I told him it was poisonous and he started laughing till he realized I was serious.

I WAS serious and that made me realize that many of us don’t realize that green stained potatoes are poisonous indeed. Hence the topic today.

The green part and a bitter taste both, indicate the presence of toxic substances found in improperly-stored/damaged potatoes, called solanine and chaconine.

When the potatoes are directly exposed to sunlight or are kept in open for too long, they start producing chlorophyll which turns potatoes green. This chlorophyll in itself is not harmful but it can indicate the presence of two glycoalkaloids which are natural toxins: solanine and chaconine.

Nature’s idea, in producing these toxic compounds in exposed potatoes is to save the potatoes from insects, fungi and other animals but for us humans, it doesn’t sound like a great idea.

The highest concentration is found in the skin and the sprouts.

What Are These Toxic Elements?

Solanine is normally always present in potatoes but in such low quantities that it has no adverse effects on us, even when we have lots of them. When the potatoes are exposed to sunlight, they produce more of it.

Chlorophyll stains are green in colour and in general indicate the presence of solanine and chaconine, though that’s not a thumb rule. They don’t come hand-in-hand. However, that’s a risk I am not willing to take. So, I just discard green-stained potatoes.

Solanine and chaconine are toxic phytochemical which can be:

  • damaging to our intestinal wall membrane
  • are also an enzyme-inhibitor that affects the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters

They can cause symptoms such as :

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal disturbances
  • Headache and stomach-ache
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Confusion

In extreme cases, solanine is toxic enough to cause paralysis and even death. In general, 1.25mg per kg of body weight is enough to cause symptoms. Sooner in children.

What Shall We do?

Taking care of these glycoalkaloids, thankfully is quite easy. Fortunately, poisoning from green potatoes is also not very common. As it is, one needs to ingest a lot of it to experience any adverse effects but still, just take care of these points and cut any risk whatsoever:

  • While buying – Keep an eye while buying potatoes and don’t buy the ones which have green spots/stains on them
  • Purchase small quantities in one go
  • Storing potatoes properly – At home, store potatoes away from direct sun-light and specifically in a deep, dark spot of kitchen/pantry. One can always store potatoes inside a cupboard too
  • Don’t consume very old potatoes especially if they were not stored properly
  • Peeling, boiling, cooking and baking does not remove these toxins from potatoes
  • Storing in refrigerator is also not ideal

Please remember that even if the green stain is removed after peeling the potato, it is best to still not consume that one. If any part tastes bitter, throw it away like it burned your hand!

Hope you found today’s post useful. Do share around so that people are aware of the truth of green potatoes. For more and regular updates on Health, Nutrition and Fitness, do join me on Instagram on this link:

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace