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It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.”

― Maya Angelou

Women are inherently beautiful. Yes, they are, irrespective of their size, shape, colour and anything else. But do most of us inherently feel beautiful about ourselves?

They say that a woman’s ovary represents creativity. For creativity to be nurtured, what is needed is huge doses of love, compassion and patience. If what you offer instead, is anger at the self, hatred of the body and an unwillingness to love yourself, is when you see disorders like PCOD/ PCOS manifesting itself in various complex ways on your body.

Scientifically speaking, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome/ disorder (PCOS/ PCOD) have small cysts on their ovaries that most of the time (not mandatory) leads to hormonal imbalance, unwanted body hair, obesity, insulin-resistance, infertility, irregular periods, absence of periods, diabetes, hair thinning, acne, oily skin amongst few others.

PCOS involves the delicate balance of various female hormones and multiple organs of the body, namely ovaries, adrenal glands, pancreas and pituitary gland. Hence, the way to approach it & deal with it should also be very holistic and comprehensive.

Usually contraceptives/ diuretics/ anti-androgen/ anti-diabetic drugs are routinely prescribed to bring balance and treat PCOS/ PCOD. Available scientific evidence suggests that lifestyle modification (LSM) interventions reduce fasting blood glucose and insulin levels in women with PCOS with effects that are similar to drugs. Moreover, it is only fair to give lifestyle a chance before resorting to popping pills with their obvious side-effects. Lifestyle changes, including food, exercise, and sleep, improves the metabolic and reproductive abnormalities of PCOS women. Therefore, it undoubtedly, represents the first-line management for all women with PCOS.

The two main nutritional, exercise & lifestyle objectives for PCOS are to a) lower body fat levels (improve body composition) and b) enhance insulin-sensitivity. And the way to achieve them are-

1. NUTRITION – Eating local, seasonal and fresh homemade meals that are wholesome will ensure that all the required nutrients reach your ovaries and your glands so that they are nourished and well looked after.

Eating wholesome food – Now the prime nutritional strategy for insulin resistance & PCOS is to eat foods that are low in GI. Eating foods that have a low GI keeps blood sugar levels steady and helps your body metabolise fat more efficiently. Generally, the less processed a carbohydrate, the more likely it is to have a low-GI score. So choose to eat rotis, theplas, dosa, rice, paratha etc.

But what is really interesting is that your glycemic response to a food depends on the other foods you eat with it.

Adding fat to your carb-rich food, lowers the overall GI of the meal. Fat slows stomach emptying, delaying the process of converting food to blood sugar. Hence, more the fat, the slower the sugars (‘carbohydrates’) are digested, and lower is the glycemic index. So spread a generous amount of white butter on your roti/parathas, do not dump the coconut chutney when eating idli/ dosa, and do lace your hot, fluffy rice with a spoonful of ghee.

Now if this meal will include proteins too, the GI impact of the carbohydrate foods will be further minimized. This is because by combining foods in a single meal the overall impact is to slow down the rate at which your body releases sugar from any single ingredient. So add a bowl of curd with your butter paratha, some sambhar with your idli chutney, and some dal or egg curry to your rice ghee. And there you have a wholesome meal that is not only low in GI, but also rich in fibre-rich grains, vitamins & micro-mineral rich pulses, and essential fats. The kind of meal your ovaries are going to thank you for!

But haven’t we all grown up eating dal bhaat ghee/ paratha curd? The reason we have invited these host of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like PCOS/ Diabetes etc. is because we have either looked down at our own homemade meals; or tried to eat them in isolation; like eating roti without ghee, having dal but no rice etc. This shift from our traditional & wholesome way of eating to more Westernized diets is called “Nutrition Transition” and is said to be largely responsible for the urban lifestyle disorders in developing countries like ours, today.

2. EXERCISE – Amongst all the exercises, incorporating strength training into your workout regimen is crucial to improve insulin sensitivity and to better control insulin swings. Structured and progressive strength training improves how the body uses insulin and allows glucose to get around the body better. Weight training at least twice a week is hence essential, to bring hormonal vibrancy.

Numerous studies have demonstrated conclusively that strength training also burns fat much more effectively than any other exercise does. Aerobic activity (like cardio, walk, swim etc.) burns fat while you’re exercising, but anaerobic activity (like strength training) burns fat in the minutes, hours and days following exercise, as your body recovers from your workout. Studies reveal that strength exercise burns more calories (or fat) for as long as 24 to 48 hours post workout! Better fat loss means better hormonal balance, better hormonal balance means regular & painless periods, lesser break outs, reduced hair fall and enhanced fertility.

3. SLEEP- Not getting enough sleep impairs metabolism and disrupts hormone levels. With ongoing sleep loss, insulin sensitivity of body reduces. At the same time, your body secretes more cortisol (stress hormone), which makes it harder for insulin to do its work effectively. The net effect: Excess glucose stays in the bloodstream, that not only leads to weight gain but also throws all your hormones off balance.

Make sure you have regulated wake up and bed timings. A deep, restorative sleep is priceless for your hormones as it brings a sense of harmony in them.

And lastly, take it one step at a time, with love, compassion and patience. As women, we tend to be least kind to our own selves. Applaud yourself for every small effort you make in the right direction and gradually, you will see yourself transforming. And do remember that: “You are a woman, phenomenally!”

Keep yourself happy by keeping yourself healthy. Let well-known Mumbai dietitian and fitness expert Munmun Ganeriwal design a nutrition, exercise and lifestyle transformation program that elevates your overall sense of well-being. Contact us now for an in-depth consultation.

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Did you know that Sports Drinks are high in simple sugars and drinking them mindlessly will result in body fat?

SPORTS DRINKS

Sports drinks are beverages containing sugar and salt with a purpose to help athletes replace water, electrolytes and energy before and after training or competition. They act as important hydration supplements because when you sweat during an active training or competition, you not only lose water but also lose electrolytes and salt like sodium, potassium and chloride. Gatorade and Powerade are popular examples of sports drinks. Consuming these drinks will help you sustain physical activity for a longer time and also enhance performance.

However, what we also need to know is that most of us are people looking out for general fitness and are not sportsmen or athletes. Since the duration and intensity of our workout ranges from low to moderate, and since we are working out in air conditioned environments most of the times, our hydration supplementation requirements are modest. Most of the exercise physiologists from around the world have maintained that unless you are exercising or competing for longer than 90 minutes, there is no need or requirement of any sports drinks. In fact, consuming these drinks will then prove to be counter productive since the excess sugar will get converted to fat in the body. What is then best suited is just water. Just have sips of water during your workout and also after the workout.

ENERGY DRINKS

The second category of hydration supplements are the energy drinks. These drinks contain caffeine that are believed to stimulate you and also usually contain high amounts of sugars. Red Bull is one of the most popular examples in this category. These drinks are consumed for a burst of energy as well as commonly used with alcohol as mixers. Since alcohol and caffeine that is present in energy drinks both are diuretics, its combined consumption will increase the risk of dehydration along with many other health risks. Excessive consumption of energy drinks not only gives excess sugar to the body but has also shown to be associated with cardiac risks.

So the next time you want to reach out for a sports drink or an energy drink, make a sound decision whether or not you should be having it in the first place.

Unsure about the right diet for you? Are you torn between what you’d love to eat and what you hear is unhealthy for you? Sign up for a one-on-one nutrition & diet consultation with leading Mumbai dietitian Munmun Ganeriwal

Related article-

1. Post-Workout Nutrition for Fat loss & Fitness

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The packaged food with all its health claims, the marketing, celebrities endorsing and its quirky characters that appeal to the kids, only makes for a good business model for the companies as it helps them maximize their sales but it’s not good for human health.

The local food movement on the other hand, needs to gain greater momentum. Eating locally grown food is the need of the hour and for good reasons-

1. Good health and nutrition– Local foods are foods that are grown around the place you eat. Since the food does not travel as far, they have fewer food miles. Lesser the distance traveled, more the nutrients retained. Fewer food miles essentially mean that it arrives fresh on your plate and is full of nutrients, taste and flavour. When you eat food that is local, you also ensure that you are eating seasonal. Additionally, compared to large factory farms, small farms are most likely to be less aggressive in the use of chemicals, pesticides etc. in their produce.

2. Environmental sustainability– With fewer food miles, local foods save on greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improve our carbon footprint. Since eating local food eliminates the need to recruit fuel dominant transportations, it can serve to be one of the most effective measures to reduce global warming.

3. Ecological diversity– Protecting our large food diversity and preserving the agricultural gene pool is essential if we want to address issues of global food security and zero hunger. Local crops are climate smart as they adapt to marginal soil and climate conditions and can reduce our dependency on only major crops for food.

4. Local economy– While buying an industrialized and processed food pack off the shelf of a multi department store, you are only funding the big CEO of a giant food company. Instead eating local helps you support the cause of small farmers and indigenous tribes and allows active participation in building local economy.

As the song from the Island Food Community of Pohnpei goes, let’s sing in chorus- “Let’s go local, let’s stay local.

Reference-

  1. Sustainable development goals

Unsure about the right diet for you? Are you torn between what you’d love to eat and what you hear is unhealthy for you? Sign up for a one-on-one nutrition & diet consultation with leading Mumbai dietitian Munmun Ganeriwal

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Green tea has become synonymous to good health, diet, fitness and everything that comes under this huge umbrella of weight loss. First things first, both black and green tea come from the same plant. The difference is only in the way each is treated after being plucked, in terms of processing and oxidation.

THE HISTORY

India has always celebrated black tea for thousands of years. It has always been traditionally made with spices and herbs for centuries to cure illnesses of all kinds and degree. The first documented mention of tea consumption in India is in the Ramayana.

Green tea, on the other hand, is native to Japan and China.

IS GREEN TEA PRODUCED IN INDIA?

India has been commercially producing some of the worlds finest black teas since the 19th century. If the Darjeeling tea has been compared to the extraordinary wine from the champagne district of France, tea from Assam is known for its full bodied strength and that from Nilgiri for its fragrance.

Its only recently, may be ten years or so, that these popular growing regions have started processing green tea as well, more driven by its popularity and demand from the consumers.

The amount of green tea produced in India is only 10% of the black which is not a lot especially if you compare it with the Japanese and Chinese cultivation of green tea.

THE TEA ECONOMY

Since several years together, it was the Indian black tea that was considered the finest by the rest of the world for its great taste and flavour. Until a decade back, India was hence, the undisputed and largest exporter of tea in the world. The gradual growing belief that drinking green tea has detox and weight loss benefits has been mostly pushed by green tea companies in Japan and China to reap profits in foreign markets. Resulting which, from rank one, we now rank four as world tea exporters.

HOW TRUE ARE THESE HEALTH CLAIMS?

Let’s get to know the facts one by one

Myth 1 Only green tea has antioxidants with ‘detox’ properties

If green tea has antioxidants and flavonoids, so does black. In each case, oxidation or non oxidation gives the tea a different set of antioxidant compounds. Research says that if Catechin and Kaempferol are Antioxidants in green tea, then Quercetin and Theaflavins in black tea are equally effective antioxidants.

Catechin and Kaempferol – Antioxidants in green tea

Equally effective

Quercetin and Theaflavins- Antioxidants in black tea

Research by American Society for Nutrition & NCBI, U.S

Myth 2 The Low caffeine content in green tea makes it healthier

Well, the fact is that Tea, whether black or green, is naturally low in caffeine

Myth 3 They say that Green tea helps in Weight loss

“Seeing is believing” but not always. One such example is Green tea and it’s health claims.
As a matter of fact, Tea, whether green or black, is only 1 calorie per 100 ml of serving. Moreover, the USFDA has time and again rejected green tea health claims. This is what it says-

US FDA – “There is no credible scientific evidence to support qualified health claims about consumption of green tea or green tea extract”

Not long time ago, ads on TV talked about the colour, strength and fragrance to sell their tea and not promoted it as a “detox” or a “weight loss” agent. Instead of thin, skinny girls representing as brand ambassadors, tabla or sitar maestros having chai were seen, driving the point that the culture of having masala chai in India is as old and rich as ‘Sangeet’ itself.

Let’s get together and celebrate this age old culture instead of brushing it under the carpet in the name of weight loss. Chai anyone?

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods

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Vishuddha is the chakra located at your throat and neck, and incorporates your thyroid gland. It is one of the seven chakras in your bodies, which are believed to be vital energy centres. The Vishuddha chakra is supposed to be about choice, willpower and the right to speak and be heard.

Since it’s between the head and the heart it works to maintain integrity between what you think and what you feel. When you find it difficult to communicate or express your thoughts and feelings, when you do not believe you have the right to make choices for yourself that empower you or when you feel suppressed by swallowed emotions and feelings, is when the throat chakra is affected that often manifests as thyroid problems in the body.

It is no wonder then that women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems (as per American Thyroid Association, ATA). Of course, there are also huge hormonal events only specific to women like pregnancy and menopause, which exposes more women than men to it but for most of the time, women all over the world fail to listen to their inner voice, much less express it. Self-empowerment is the main lesson of this chakra symbol.

Now, self-empowerment comes from within. For first, it comes from taking ownership of the problem instead of blaming the ever-nurturing thyroid gland for weight gain, hair loss, forgetfulness, irritability etc. and second, from making efforts to deal with the hormonal imbalance by improvising your lifestyle before resorting to taking external thyroid hormones in the form of pills/ medicines.

The three main strategies for a healthy lifestyle that will support your thyroid gland (whether you have hypo or hyper thyroidism) and help you reach your optimum body weight (body composition) are-

1.NUTRITION – Nourish, nurture and support your thyroid gland with ‘real’ food and nutrients so that it can function efficiently. Real food is the food that is grown in a soil near you, not wrapped in fancy packaging and flown from a far away land. Processed, industrialized food is rich in sodium, salts and preservatives which creates havoc to the fine, delicate balance of sodium and potassium in your body cells. Hence, that packet of ‘high fibre’ biscuits, ‘multi-grain’ chips, ‘diet’ bhel, ‘anaaj wala’ breakfast cereal etc. that you open in the hope of losing weight, only puts additional stress to the already ‘overworking’ thyroid gland. That you feel only bloated and puffy (instead of feeling lighter) after consuming them only adds to the big, bad story of packaged, processed foods.

What to eat? Instead of hopping onto the latest diet trend wagon of either “low fat” or “low carb” or “high protein” diet, nourish your thyroid with wholesome food. One that is inclusive of all: fibre-rich carbs, indispensable amino acids (protein), essential fats along with vital vitamins and minerals.

The whole grains (jowar/ bajra/ nachni/ wheat/rice) that you eat in the form of rotis, bhaat, thepla, bhakri are not just fibre and carbs, it is also rich in iodine. Adequate iodine is essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, almost like basic building blocks. So the moment you give up on rice and roti to lose weight, your thyroid struggles all the more to function for you.

More and more research has found that deficiency of Vit D is significantly associated with thyroid gland malfunction. Now Vit D is a fat-soluble vitamin. So in order to make up for the low Vit D levels, to support your thyroid and to lose weight, you really cannot afford to be fussy about essential fats like ghee, coconut, white butter, filtered oils etc. Your ‘low fat’ ice-cream; ‘skimmed’, ‘double toned’ milk well, will actually do just the opposite for you!

Since iodine combines with tyrosine (protein) in the body to make thyroid hormones, adequate protein in the diet is important and is crucial to optimise metabolism of the body. Make friends with milk, curd, cheese, nuts, eggs, meat, fish, dal, legumes but remember eating them with your whole grains and essential fats. Wholesomeness is when you eat in combination v/s isolation. So say ‘NO’ to dinner of only ‘grilled fish’ and give a big high five to rice and fish curry. Hope you are getting the story!

2. EXERCISE – Thyroid hormones play an important role in bone mineral homeostasis and bone density. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are associated with reduced BMD (bone mineral density) leading to increased fracture risk, osteoporosis and joint pain.

Consistent strength training will help increase BMD & strengthen your musculoskeletal system. Non-weight bearing cardio exercises (like swimming, cycling) will help burn fat without overstressing your joints. The practise of yoga & asana helps in opening and balancing the vishuddha chakra.

Hence, it is ideal to take a broad base approach in exercises too and do a combination of strength, cardio and yoga (on separate days)

3. SLEEP- Hypothyroidism is most often associated with fatigue, also called ‘adrenal fatigue’. And things that trigger ‘adrenal fatigue’ are stress and poor sleep. Deep, restorative sleep is hence crucial and one should be working towards getting enough sleep during the night and a 20 minutes “catnap” post lunch.

So eat, move, sleep and most important, speak and express yourself- assertively and fearlessly. Let your thyroid blossom and feel beautiful!

Read related articles on nutrition

How to Control High Blood Pressure & Stay Healthy?

Cholesterol and Indian diet: Time to stop worrying

PCOD Problem: Lifestyle transformation for women with PCOD

Diabetes control: Eat, Move, Sleep!

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods.

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It does not matter as much how hard you train, as it matters how well you “refuel” your body post-workout session. In order to get the desired results from your training- be it the sculpted, toned body you are looking for or getting fitter & stronger is your goal- what you eat following exercise is crucial and can have a major impact on your results.

Why is “Recovery Nutrition” important?

Post a workout, your body is in a catabolic state (process of breakdown) because of many biochemical, metabolic & hormonal changes that has taken place during the exercise. It has depleted its muscle glycogen reserves (body’s stored fuel), the catabolic hormone cortisol has been on a surge & then there are the free radicals (chemically unstable molecules) that have been generated during the exercise. The good news is that this presents an “anabolic window of opportunity” Anabolism refers to the process of building up. By consuming proper nutrients post-workout, you will be able to arrest further muscle breakdown, initiate the re-synthesis of fuel reserves, initiate the rebuilding of damaged tissue, bring down cortisol levels, accelerate removal of metabolic by products (lactic acid, CO2). Hence, having a post-workout fuelling strategy in place is extremely important for improvements in both body composition (fat loss) and exercise performance, faster recovery, preventing fatigue and resisting injury.

What is “Recovery Nutrition”?

Insulin sensitivity is heightened immediately after exercise, which means that ideally you should consume your post-workout meal as soon as you finish your workout. The quicker you feed your body, the better nutrient delivery to the muscles and more nutrient & glucose uptake by them to utilize for repair. Another physiological effect of exercise is the immediate increase in the blood flow to the muscles. Hence, the delivery of protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, water etc. is also enhanced, resulting in greater muscle protein synthesis.

But since we live in a ‘real’ world v/s an ‘ideal’ one, it may be possible that at times, you are unable to consume your post-workout meal immediately after cooling down at the gym (for e.g. some day you may be rushed for office) Then know that, all is not lost. The “anabolic window of opportunity” lasts for at least a couple of hours following exercise so if not right after workout, do make sure you take in the nutrients as soon as you can!

The “Recovery Nutrition” comprises of the four R’s backed by exercise physiologists all over the world, which are-

1. Rehydrate It is crucial to make up for the loss of fluids and electrolytes as your body is in a dehydrated state post-workout. Among other health benefits, staying properly hydrated will help your body be better able to deliver the nutrients that your cells and muscles need in order to repair themselves.

The bottom line: Ensure you have water post exercise and also later through the day. The best way to check if you are having enough water is to look for your urine colour- should be crystal clear, not cloudy. Caffeine has shown to disrupt post-exercise insulin action, thereby impairing your body’s ability to replenish glycogen stores and utilize protein for muscular repair. Hence, if you do want to indulge in your cup of coffee or tea, wait for a couple of hours after your workout.

2.Replenish One of the primary goals post-exercise is to replenish glycogen reserves (stored carbohydrate in muscle & liver) that gets depleted during training.

Post-workout, you should consume carbohydrates that come from simple, high-glycemic sources so that they can quickly do its job. They will break down quickly in your gut, sending a surge of sugar into your bloodstream and raising your blood glucose which in turn, will spike insulin levels. Since insulin has both anabolic and anti-catabolic functions, it will accelerate protein synthesis, inhibit protein breakdown, and shuttle glycogen into cells. And this is one instance where elevated insulin won’t promote increases in body fat. Because your muscles & liver are literally starved, nutrients will tend to be used for muscle building & repair rather than fat storage.

Other than being high GI, carbs that you consume should be light and easy to digest so that it does not overload the gastro-intestinal system, disrupting the blood flow to the worked-out muscles.

Some research shows that carbohydrate-rich foods containing a combination of glucose and fructose is ideal, here. This is because glucose is converted to muscle glycogen, whereas fructose preferentially replenishes liver glycogen (glucose is of limited utility to the liver, a phenomenon called the “glucose paradox”). Thus, the two types of sugar work in synergy to replenish the glycogen stores of the body.

The bottom line: Include a variety of carbohydrates post-exercise. Few good choices are sugarcane juice, banana, boiled potato, potato sandwich.

3.Recover The other main nutritional objective post-workout is to supply sufficient amino acids (protein) for muscle tissue repair. If protein intake is sub-optimal following training, recovery is hampered and results are compromised. When amino acids are consumed following training, protein synthesis increases, optimizing the development of lean muscle tissue. Increase in lean muscle tissue is important for fat loss, change in body composition and improved exercise performance.

Protein should preferably be in the form of a high-biological value (BV) protein powder, that which is easy to digest and readily available, absorbed & assimilated in the body. A fast-acting protein such as whey works best. Because it is rapidly assimilated, whey reaches your muscles quickly, thereby expediting repair. The BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) in whey protein keeps the insulin sensitive and boosts your immunity, amongst many other things.

The bottom line: Once you have had your carb-rich food, have a whey protein shake mixing whey protein powder in water.

4.Revitalize Make sure to incorporate key vitamins and minerals in your post-workout meal that will help to recover and repair faster. Antioxidants is of prime importance here as it will negate the free radical effect of exercise that interferes with body’s recovery mechanism. Important antioxidants are Vit C, Vit E, Vit A, and minerals Selenium, Zinc, Chromium. Apart from its antioxidant effect, these minerals also have an insulin-like effect thus accelerating the anabolism process post workout.

The bottom line: Take separate vitamin supplements (of A, C, E) along with a supplement of Zinc, Selenium, Chromium with your post work-out meal.

Plan your post-workout meals right and get incredible results from your workout! Stay fit, stay young!

NOTE: This article was written by me for MyBeautyGym.Com & was published on 18th August 2017.

 

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Mindfulness in eating: experience the bliss of well-being

The last few years have seen the concept of mindfulness gain rapid traction, from corporate board rooms to sports teams. At its core, it is a very simple philosophy that should apply to every walk of life. Therefore, the need for mindful eating shouldn’t really be a surprise if you really think about it. We’re sure most of us have grown up listening to parents scolding us for watching TV, reading comics, or talking while eating. I am sure you remember being told, No distractions while eating!. Without ever realizing it, that was an implicit order to practice mindful eating, something which we seem to have given up on in current times.

Before we delve deeper into why mindfulness is as important while eating as it is for better productivity, let’s understand the essence of this ‘modern buzzword’. According to ancient Zen Philosophy, mindfulness is simply “presence” and it is probably the simplest form of meditation there is. It is about being immersed completely in the present moment and being fully aware of it.

Unfortunately, we now seem to be always racing against time, with our minds full rather than being mindful. As we multi-task our way through life, pre-occupied by numerous thoughts and worrying about either the past or the future, focusing on just one thing at a time seems like a terrible waste of time. How wrong could we be?

Mindful eating

That brings us to eating. When people speak of healthy eating, the focus is generally on what we eat – the constituents of a meal and their nutritional value. What tends to get ignored often is how we eat. Welcome to mindful eating and its role in delivering the full benefits of the food we eat. According to Psychology Today, “mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarters full?”

Benefits of Mindful Eating

Several modern studies have brought to the fore the ‘mind & gut connection’ and the resultant benefits of simply focusing on eating. It is not difficult to understand why.

  • Prevents overeating/binge eating: If you eat mindfully, you are more likely to avoid overeating as you are fully aware of the quantity of food you are putting in your month. In turn, this means you are more likely to listen to the “full” signal coming back from your tummy! (Have you ever wondered why we tend to end up eating a lot more than we normally would at parties? It’s all thanks to the divided attention!). If you want to lose weight or are conscious of gaining weight, you know how important it is to not overeat.
  • Better digestion & absorption of nutrients: When we are fully focused on the food we eat,our salivary glands work better. This aids digestion enormously. Also, we tend to slow down the pace of eating – we eat more leisurely, chewing the food well and ensuring that the important first stage of the digestive process is completed properly in the mouth. By ‘breaking down’ the food in the mouth, we enable much better absorption of all nutrients.
  • Greater satisfaction and fulfillment: The undivided attention on the food helps us truly enjoy and appreciate its look, feel, fragrance and flavours. Isn’t such sensory fulfillment a great source of joy? Mindful eating invariably translates to joyfulness!

How to Practise Mindful Eating for Greater Fulfillment

The important word is conscious ‘practise’, as this is a process of creating and reinforcing a habit while (in many cases) altering an existing habit. Many of you would be familiar with the principle of auto-suggestion while practicing meditation or breathing exercises in Yoga. We should follow something similar to becoming mindful: tell yourself to experience every step of the journey of the food from the plate to the stomach. Don’t just take in the food, take in the entire eating process and enjoy it, slowly, leisurely.

You can become better at this by following some of the following steps:

  • Sit in a clutter-free dining area, whether it is at the dining table or on the floor. Avoid the bed or the couch while eating.
  • Try to close your eyes and visualize the food on your plate before you start eating. In our Indian culture, people close their eyes and say a silent prayer and express their gratitude. The attitude of gratitude is a key ingredient to our happiness; besides, this entire process of calming our mind and visualizing the food stimulates our brain to prepare for the digestion process!
  • Turn off the television, keep the reading material and mobile phones away. Whatsapp messages and Facebook can (and must) wait!
  • Pause for a few seconds after each morsel/bite of food. Take smaller portions, chew well and eat slowly.
  • For a sensuous, intimate and mindful connect with your food, eat with your hands, not the fork and spoon.

So, there you go. Mindful eating is not too difficult to practice, if you set your mind to it. Make a few simple changes to your eating routine and experience the true joy of eating. It’s an age-old wisdom that is rooted deep in Indian culture and philosophy, and let’s ensure we heed that wisdom to enjoy all its benefits!

Keep yourself happy by keeping yourself healthy. Let well-known Mumbai dietitian and fitness expert Munmun Ganeriwal design a nutrition, exercise and lifestyle transformation program that elevates your overall sense of well-being. Contact us now for an in-depth consultation.

References & other articles related to mindful eating

Mindful Eating: How to really enjoy your meal, Jan Chosen Bays, Psychology Today

A Mindfulness Approach To Eating, Dr. Susan Albers, Huffington Post

Mindful Eating, Harvard Health Letter

Image Credit – Google Images

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PICKLES – THE PRIZED HEIRLOOMS

 

MYTHS WE GENERALLY HEAR –

“Avoid it if you have high blood pressure because there’s too much salt” OR

“Avoid it if you have cholesterol, there’s so much oil” OR

“Too many spices in it, not good if you have IBS, acidity or allergies, avoid it!”

WHAT THE FACTS ARE –

Not long ago, almost each family in India had its own secret recipe of making its pickles. These recipes were meticulously passed down to the next generation who treasured it only to continue this legacy with it’s future generations; very much like a piece of heirloom jewellery, unique and priceless, that is passed down from generation to generation.

Then around the 1970s, some 40 years back, people authorized to give health/ diet advice started questioning this very heritage for the salt/ oil/ and spices it contains. Women folks getting together for the annual pickle making ritual gradually started becoming a rare sight.

On the other hand, fermented foods (specifically lacto-fermentation) today have gained popularity worldwide as people have started discovering its health benefits along with the great taste it offers. Tabloids and health blogs are dutifully reaching out to the ‘health-conscious’ informing them about its ‘probiotics’ benefit. Celebrities are being roped in to endorse ‘probiotic drinks’ packed in fancy bottles, calling it the new ‘superfood’.

 

Amongst all this fuss, what is not being promoted and endorsed is the ‘probiotic-rich’ pickle our daadi-naani made through the same process of ‘lacto-fermentation’ that is gaining popularity worldwide. The salt she adds, aids in controlling the fermentation process, the oil acts as natural preservative and the methi/ jeera/ dhania have anti – microbial properties that also enhances the taste.

Let’s look at some more benefits of grandmom’s “Achaar” and why you MUST have it –

1. Fights obesity & diabetes– Our fast paced lifestyle heavy on packaged/ processed food upsets the balance of our gut microbiota. New researches link the changes in our “gut flora mix” with an increase in obesity and diabetes. The ‘live’ probiotics in homemade achaar helps restore the diversity and strength of the gut microbiota, accelerates fat burning and increases insulin sensitivity.

Pickles fights obesity & diabetes

2. Fights bloating– By providing just the right strain of bacteria, it helps in relieving bloating and makes you look thinner on your tummy.

3. Stimulates Vit B12 & Vit D– Encourages production of Vit B12 & Vit D3. If your blood reports have declared you deficient in these vitamins, do take a vitamin shot of your homemade achaar!

4. Improves digestion – Being enzymes and probiotic rich, achaar aids in digestion and helps assimilate and absorb nutrients from food (The science behind the age old practice of having a small pickle with your fibre-rich rotis and rice)

5. Boosts immunity – It creates acidic fermentation by-products in the body and lowers the intestine’s pH at a level where it is difficult for any “bad” bacteria to survive. The “good” bacteria it contains secretes anti-microbial proteins that kills off “bad” bacteria and boosts immunity of the body.

So what are you waiting for? Just pickle it up!

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EATING RIGHT DURING RAMADAN

 

SEHRI/ SUHOOR

 

Things you SHOULD DO :

The Prophet has said, ‘Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.'” Having the Suhoor meal before the Fajr prayer is so important that in old days, a mesaharati (public waker) was appointed during the month of Ramadhan only to wake people up so that they eat before the prayers and the impending fast.

Eating a wholesome meal just before you begin fasting will keep your blood sugar level steady, prevent nausea & headache during fasting hours and will give you the energy to sustain throughout the day.

Things to NOT DO :

Do not skip this meal even if it requires you to wake up 15-20 mins before you otherwise would.

MEAL OPTIONS – Hot homemade breakfast like poha milk/ roti dahi/ upma/ eggs & roti.

 

IFTAAR

 

Things you SHOULD DO :

1. Eat slowly, it will help you feel full and prevent you from over eating
2. Eat max 2-3 items at a time
3. Plan your meals ahead
4. Eat fresh meals cooked at home
5. Any one dessert 30 mins post your main meal

Things to NOT DO :

1. Do not overstuff yourself as it will lead to acidity, lethargy, bloating
2. Do not drink too much at a time and too fast. Instead have sips of water throughout the non-fasting hours
3. Avoid packaged/ processed food products. They will cause dehydration, constipation, insulin resistance and weight gain

MEAL OPTIONS –

Have small meals frequently at short intervals. This will ensure that your system is not overloaded and there’s enough time to eat and digest all the different delicacies.

Break your fast with– Dates/ Seasonal Fresh fruits / Homemade sherbets

Post Magrib prayerHaleem/ Biryani raita/ Nonbu kanji/ Rice or Roti & any one type of meat

Post Taraweeh prayer – Milk/ Masala milk/ Milk with gulkand/ Haldi doodh/ Labaan/ Roasted makhana/ Buttermilk

ADDITIONAL POINTERS –

1. Tea/ coffee – Not more than 2 cups/ day. Have it 15-20 mins after your main evening meal

2. Exercise– Best time to workout is 60 mins post your main evening meal. Make sure to hydrate immediately after your session and have a post workout meal (fruit & protein shake) to replenish your fluid and glycogen

3. Sleep– Make sure you get restful sleep so that you wake up fresh for the fast next day. Not only does inadequate sleep interfere with digestion, it will leave you cranky, irritable and also contribute to weight gain. Rubbing ghee or sesame oil on the soles of the feet at bedtime induces sound sleep

4. Fluids – Drink plenty of water between Iftaar and Suhoor to ensure the colour of urine is crystal clear, not cloudy

Stay healthy, stay blessed! Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!!

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The journey of ghee in India has very much been similar to that of yoga. From being thousand years old wisdom that originated in our land, to getting dismissed and disregarded by ‘modern day’ gurus and scientists only to be picked up by the West and reintroduced to us by a different name, both are India’s greatest export to the world.

Ghee or ‘clarified butter’ (as they call it in the West) has always been considered as the promotive of health, memory, intelligence, fertility, of vital essence and nourishment in Ayurveda. Food cooked in desi/ asli ghee used to be a status of prosperity and good health. Until, sometime in 1970s, nutritionists, doctors and pharma companies joined hands to poop that party. A low fat diet was pushed by U.S. Dietary Guidelines in 1977. “Saturated fat is bad for our heart, increases cholesterol and causes heart attacks”, they said. Back at home, we too listened to it and dropped our ghee. Ghee thus made an exit from our foods, our plates and our kitchens.

THE RE-EMERGENCE OF GHEE AS A SUPERFOOD

Now fast forward to today and here’s a new thought – what if research issued 40 years ago was not based on solid evidence? What if we were wrong about ghee?

In the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and heart health, researchers say the guidelines in the 1970s got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made. In April 2015, USDA reviewed its guidelines and removed the dietary cholesterol upper limit declaring that fat/ cholesterol from food had little to do with the cholesterol circulating in the body. American supermarkets started stocking ‘Indian ghee’ and promoted it as ‘liquid gold’. In Nov 2015, Ghee made it to the list of “The 50 new healthiest foods of all time” by TIME magazine.

So amongst food companies, government policies and scientific bodies, a 5,000-year-old wisdom got erased to be reintroduced as the ‘new’ health food. But the question is –Will ladoos, halwas, parathas smothered with ghee regain its lost glory? Will we be able to overcome a fear that has lived with us for 40 years?

READ ALSO-

BENEFITS OF BUTTER– A day spent BETTER with BUTTER

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