Friday, November 13, 2015

The French Paradox Exists!

Its just been two months since I was in the southeastern French city and my jealousy was already rising day by day. I was mortified looking at people sitting in cafés all day long and still somehow managing to look like perfect Calvin Klein underwear models. I pondered over this gravely, while deep frying my pooris (Just another extra oily Indian dish). I tried reasoning it out - maybe it’s the weather…or maybe because they walk everywhere…or maybe all that red wine…no wait smoking; it has to be their incessant smoking that kills their appetite. But I knew all these were just jealous thoughts of the fat girl inside me who just wants to eat cookies all day without getting fat!

So I did some research and tried observing the culture a bit more closely to connect the dots. I mean they got to be doing something really right which is making them nail the healthy lifestyle, because lets face it, the French Paradox still exists! I realised that while obesity has significantly increased in France post 2000 (thanks to all the fast food chains and fads coming in which no one can escape apparently), they are significantly lower that other european countries and a lot lower than the big daddy of obesity- The U.S.

The simple answer to the riddle of how a nation of alcohol binging, croissants munching, pastries eating , is that, they eat lesser of everything. And this is because they are served smaller portions of everything. While the rise of fast foods has disrupted the tradition to some extent, the young generation still follows the tradition of smaller lighter meals and, well, munching throughout the day in bits. This was also scientifically proven with some quality research done by CRNS agency in France and researchers from Philadelphia. They found out that mean portion size across Paris establishment was around 277g compare to an average of 346g in Philadhephia (and increase of 25% more approx)

I have always been an advocate of getting adequate nutrition spread well over the entire day, and this research and the paradox just strengthened my philosophy. You need to give your body some rest and not binge on the whole day’s calories at one go. It always makes sense to stop eating before you feel satiated because your stomach takes time to send signals to your brain, and for the brain to receive the signal from the stomach. Spreading out your meal and eating small portion will also help you to spread out your energy requirements, and you’ll feel less tired by the end of the day. Try this for a few days, and you will feel the drastic change in your energy level and your weighing scale soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why aren’t the dietitians going out of business?

I have been thinking about the topic for my blog for a long time. Lets see, weight loss… soo passé. Obesity… even new borns know about it. Benefits of sea food… now even a 5 year old can say omega 3 fatty acid without stuttering. I felt defeated. I have been thinking since then- do we know too much about food now? Everyone you meet these days has some kind of special insight to give you about the new ‘blah blah’ diet he/she has been following and how miraculously it has worked for him/ her. Everyone seems to be ready to pin point on how many calories the pizza, that I am digging on, contains; or how its bad to have solid meals after 7 o’clock at night; or how having 5 meals a day is important; or how avocado is the new magic food and so on. But if we already know so much, why aren’t the dieticians going out of business? 

Its simple. While we know what the general guidelines are, we don’t know how to tailor them and practice them according to our body. And that’s when we need the dietitian who can alter our food choices for us.

I also have another philosophy. I do feel that we know a bit too much about food and are now finicky and picky about little things. Look at our forefather; they didn’t have access to so much of detailed information about each and every food stuff. They didn’t know what is whole grain bread or what happens if you have the yolk of the egg as well, or why you should avoid rice at night.

My advice, keep it simple and easy. Have home cooked meal as much as you can. If you are a horrible cook, even better, dig on raw foods! Walk till the mall. Go vegetable shopping with your wife/ mom. Drink water instead of Cola. Take time out and relish a heavy breakfast and enjoy it; make it look pretty with colourful fruits, juice, slice of bread, egg some nuts etc. It is ok to have a meal after 7, if you keep it light. And importantly, allow yourself a treat once in a while. You are not alive to punish yourself to death.

I know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but trust me having a lot of knowledge and not knowing how to use it, is probably a bigger danger. So go back to basics and keep it simple.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Fast and the Furious Feasters.

Since the time mankind has come to believe in religions, ritual fasting has become an imperative part of most cultures; be it for Hindus who fast during Navratra, Muslims who fast during Ramadan or Jews who fast during Yon Kipper. And since we never back down to start the mud slinging about how bad a particular religious way of fasting is, I decided to look at the whole matter rather objectively and solely from health point of view. Now let me tell you that I have never fasted in my life. Not because I am not spiritual but because I love food way too much; but after knowing what good fasting can do to your body, I am tempted to test my will once again.

Human body is well equipped to handle periods not eating, thanks to our history of our forefathers being hunters and gatherers. Search 'fasting and health' online and you will get more than 34 million results in less than 0.32 seconds, most of them talking about the doctor recommended benefits like how fasting helps in removing toxins, resting your vital organs and weight loss. Now I for once will never recommend fasting as a means to lose weight (I'll tell you why by the end of the post), but I for sure will vouch for the other health benefits that accompanies a fast.
  • Burns Fat! Let me explain how our body works. when we eat food, our body utilizes carbohydrate to produce glucose in the body which gives energy. In the absence of food, the stored up glycogen is used to produce energy. When that gets over, our body starts to burn fat. However if you prolong the fast to few days, Ketosis kicks in, meaning the body is using fat as a primary source of fuel. In the short run, it leads to fatigue, soreness and bad breath. In the long run it causes additional stress on the liver and kidney and can cause damage. 
  • Fasting may help your heart: Fasting for shorter duration may prevent heart diseases and insulin resistance which is a pre-cursor of diabetes.This again goes out to the fat burning effect of fasting. If you are burning fat cells, chances are your heart will remain block free for longer. 
  • It can cut down the risk of cancer: Although still in nascent stages of research, it has been proven that fasting decreases the growth and division of malicious cells in humans. So fingers crossed.
Now the reason I mentioned that I would never fast for the 'weight loss' is because of the tittle of my post. Most of us get so excited by the thought of food after a fast that we forget the whole purpose of a fast. We become voracious eaters and dig on anything and everything. That kills the whole purpose of fasting and shoots down the fundamental theory of '5 small meals a day'. Your body is going to stack up all the calories in double the amount when you feast after a long fast. My advice to those who are fasting- Break your fast with more of fruits and liquids and less of fried and heavy meals. Take a break once you are thorough with the fruits. Take a walk, rest for a while and then sit for the main course. This way you are not only spacing out your meals, but also getting satiated early and avoiding the binge calorie intake. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Make Your Winter a Healthy One!

I yawned again and sleep walked till the coffee machine for my 3rd cup of extra strong coffee that day. I cranked up the noisy machine and watched it pour the espresso in my big Soup mug. I stared at the mug trying to convince myself that the caffeine is not all that bad after all. A, It helps boost metabolism, B its winters, C…Damnit, I ran out of excuses there. Truth to be told, coffee is not one of the best things to be consumed in winters. Sorry, coffee machine gossipers.
Coffee and other caffeine containing beverages, dehydrate your body. They have a diuretic effect on your system, meaning you’d need to visit the washroom more often; having said that, it also kills your thirst for water. Coupled with this, the long hours of spending time in air conditioned office rooms, one tends to get dehydrated more. My advice, restrict yourself to one cup of coffee per day.
Here is my list of food that you should pig out in winters. ( coz appetite somehow triples in this season)
  •  Oranges and Guava- Nature has its own way of taking care of us. These 2 fruits, found only in winters, are extremely rich in Vitamin C (especially guava, which is the best source of Vitamin C). Amongst other qualities, Vitamin C helps protect you from infectious diseases by boosting your immunity. Also they are not heavy on calories, so eat to your heart’s content.
  • Potatoes- Yup that’s true. Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap for being a white starch, thrown into the same category as white rice or white bread. But unlike those starches, potatoes are whole foods that contain several beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of two immunity boosters—vitamins C and B6, delivering 25% and 29% of your daily needs per medium potato, respectively.
  • Avocados and Almonds- One thing that you can never miss about winters, even if you are on the equator, is the chapping skin that it brings along with it. Having vitamin E rich foods like Avocados and almonds, help retain the skin’s collagen and elasticity and prevent it from chapping.
  • Tofu, Soyamilk, anything Soya- Soya may help to preserve skin-firming collagen because it is rich in isoflavones. You will have fewer wrinkles and smoother skin even when exposed to UV rays.  And lets’ face it; you tend to expose yourself to sun more in winters than in summer.

These are just some tips to combat winters. Believe me, seasonal fruits and veggies are the best bet for any season as they have just the right nutrient required for the season. So stay smart and pick out the right food this winter. You can always have reasons for coffee machine gossips, but if you don’t make the right choices, you might not always have your health!