Weight & Watch
These pointers tell you how to win the battle of the bulge, without compromising on overall health or taste
‘I’ve put on weight after the fun and feasting of the festive season just gone by, what steps can I take to ensure healthy weight loss?’ Isn’t this a common woe many of us face? I have some simple pointers that have worked well for me over the past couple of years.
1. Keep your fridge or larder free of unnecessary temptations like sweets with refined sugar, especially the leftovers of the festivities gone by.
2. Replace processed food that comes in a packet with healthy snacking options on hand, such as yoghurt, cashews, fox nuts (makhanas) fruits, dried fruits like walnuts, pistachios and dried apricots.
3. Whenever possible, eat healthy home-cooked meals.
4. If you are confused about the balance of food groups, here is a basic guideline for intake during the day – 50 percent fruits and vegetables (encompassing a gamut of rainbow colours), 25 percent lean protein (fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and lentils), 20 percent fibre-rich carbs (whole grains and starchy vegetables) and 5 percent good fats (ghee, olive oil and even fruits like avocadoes).
5. Ensure healthy lifestyle practices. Do not stress over the weight gain. It is all about doing one day at a time. Your quota of 7-8 hours of sleep is essential. Do not indulge in excessive exercise risking your overall health. ‘All in moderation’ is a healthy mantra to follow. What local superfoods can I include in my diet for good health? Contrary to popular belief, you needn’t break the bank seeking out exotic and expensive superfoods.
Everything you need is locally available in abundance and accessible. Here’s what you should include in your diet:
Pomegranate seeds: These are an impressive nutrient source with benefits ranging from fibre to vitamins C and K, potassium and folate along with plant compounds. In fact, a glass of pomegranate juice contains three times as many antioxidants as a cup of green tea! It also reduces inflammation within the body, keeping diseases ranging from cancer to heart ailments at bay.
Drumsticks: The western world maybe waking upto moringa powder now, but drumsticks have been around for centuries in India. They help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the possibility of diabetes. They also purify the blood and boost immunity thanks to the A, B and C vitamins and minerals present. The calcium and iron content lead to strong bones and teeth.
Seasonal tropical fruits: While these need to be consumed in moderation since they are rich in natural sugars, they also come with a cartload of benefits. The mango or king of fruits owes its orange-yellow hue to carotene, an antioxidant, and also has a low glycemic index. Bananas are one of the richest sources of good carbs and potassium, aiding both digestion and heart health, while papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which is a fabulous remedy for all digestive ills ranging from constipation to ulcers.
Seeds: All seeds are great for health, but chia and flaxseeds especially boast a wealth of benefits, with very few calories. They keep you filled up for longer, since they’re a source of insoluble fibre while also ensuring stable blood sugar levels. Both flaxseeds and chia seeds also have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, and lower bad cholesterol levels. They also contain high quality plant protein
Coconut water: With summer here, what better way to stay hydrated than with Mother Nature’s own concoction? Coconut water has electrolytes that are naturally found within our bodies. So if you’re unwell or simply dehydrated, it helps replenish lost nutrients. It is also isotonic to human blood plasma, so it can rejuvenate patients who need a little boost on that front. Coconut water can prevent acid reflux, balancing out the body’s pH levels, and also has thiamine, essential for eye health.
Local probiotics: Move over kombucha! Tried and tested homeset curds, buttermilk or lassi, and kanji (a fermented rice drink) offer fabulous probiotic benefits, balancing out the friendly bacteria in your gut, keeping your entire digestive system in shipshape.
Spices: The wisdom of using local spices in everyday cooking is for good reason! Turmeric contains curcumin, which boasts medicinal properties ranging from preventing cancer to enhancing brain function. Cloves boost liver and eye health, while cardamom has antibacterial properties and improves respiratory function. Cumin aids in weight loss and helps lower cholesterol.
Honey: Pure, raw honey is another food found in nature, which can be bottled and preserved without a shelf life! Its plant compounds called polyphenols prevent heart disease. It has antiviral, antifungal benefits, can heal wounds, cure a sore throat and cool down the digestive organs.
Garlic: Add a couple of pods of garlic a day to your diet for overall health benefits. Even Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, advocated this! Allicin, a compound found in freshly-crushed or cut garlic combats sicknesses ranging from the common cold to blood pressure. It is a complete detox ingredient, improves bone health and can neutralise free radicals in the body.
Also remember, weight isn’t always linked to size! While it is a general indicator of whether you’re within safe limits for your height and age, knocking off inches doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to reflect on the weighing scale. This is primarily because with diet and exercise, you convert fat to muscle. The weighing scale, of course, doesn’t know this! Also, understanding your body is important. Weight fluctuates through the day depending on mealtimes, bathroom usage, water retention and so on. So instead of only using the weighing scale as an indicator, start noticing other things – like how your clothes fit. Also, maintain a positive body image. If you’re a healthy weight, and are eating and exercising right, don’t obsess about those last 500 grams or 5 cm. Occupying lesser space in the world isn’t necessarily linked to good health!