December 26, 2012

How to avoid the Holiday Bulge – Tips for Family Vacation and year-end parties!

As the year is coming to a close, another season of celebrations has commenced. Some of us would be preparing for few weddings up our sleeves over the next couple of months. Not to miss the year end binge and crates of diverse beverages being stacked up! Most of us would have planned vacations with friends or families already and others would be the last minutes kinds - ‘thinking about it’. Celebrations are all around the place – promising excitement to most of us.

No matter which part of the country or globe we are from, no matter what religion, race or group we belong to – we all have one common way to demonstrate our celebration publicly – Cook More! Eat More! Make others eat more! Be Happy! It’s the holidays, which means time for holiday parties that include the four F’s: family, friends, fun, and –- of course –- food. Of course, this is the 'season' time for our mouths, but spare a thought to what goes in as well!

Statistics reveal that most of us put on an additional 1-2Kgs during the festivities. The ‘Happier’ ones maybe put on a few more kilos! And this one, these couple of kilos, are the ones that are not easy to shed away, given the mix of foods that is prepared and consumed! Picture this - Sometimes, each meal can go up to 3500 calories, which is straight ½ kg added to your waistline (or the back-bulge in case of women)! Not only weight, but the extra sugar, calories, sodium, fat and other toxins that you consume, show on your face and skin as well.

So does this mean you don’t party? Of course, you do! But you can survive the holidays with a few simple steps that you can watch out for. Prepare well, be conscious and make sure you have fun – and there you are – happy and healthy!

Read more to skim through the 'doable' and the 'manageable' bits - you would be surprised that with some of these are also relevant to the 'health-pessimists' or 'who cares about health' readers of ours!

Before the party(s)
  1. Take a pre-party jog – which has two benefits – your metabolic rate would be higher which will help you digest food better and burn the calories faster and your craving for healthier food would be reduced. Not to mention added leaner look for the party! 
  2. Eat before you go out - Never head into any kind of party on an empty stomach! You will end up eating far more than you actually need, or even really want. “then why are going for a party at all” you would argue – but only a handful of nuts or just a fruit would be good enough! 
  3. Plan ahead if you know you always eat too much - If you know that you usually eat a little too much in a party, then plan ahead. Before or after the meals, balance your intake and consume fewer calories. Indulging once a week won’t be detrimental to your weight-loss goals, but if it continues for more than two days, the waistline would start expanding 
During the party (s)

  1. Use a small plate – it would give you the impression of taking too much already. If the plates are of standard size (like in most weddings), use a napkin instead – fit enough to put food into the palm of your hand – specially in the “Sweets” Section 
  2. Take it slow – in a rush to leave early, don’t gorge on the food. Keep at least 20-30 minutes for food. Taking small bites and fully chewing food helps you digest it better and control your portion sizes. Plus you need time to realize when you're full. "It takes 20 minutes to feel satiated, so give it some time before you dig in for seconds." Avoid eating anything in one bite - you get all the calories, but only a fraction of the taste.
  3. Be the last in the line - Never underestimate the visual power of food and how it affects appetite. The buffet or appetizer table looks great when you're the lucky first man to it. Once a large amount of people have gone through, the food loses its beauty. 
  4. Focus on Friends and Conversation – not on the food. That's what parties during the holidays are about anyway right? Focus on the fun: Turn your attention to socializing and activity rather than lingering by the buffet table. Music playing? Ask someone to dance. 
  5. Try not to eat while you are socializing -When you are focused on conversation, odds are good that you will barely even register what you are putting in your mouth. 
Choice of food 

  1. The 50% Rule - Balance your plate with plenty of fruits and veggies –try the 50% rule – covering at least 50% of the plate with fruits and vegetables. Keep your plate bright and avoid dull-colored foods, they tend to be the worst in terms of health sometimes!
  2. K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple, Shopper – take vegetables in the simplest form via salads / dishes. Avoid canned vegetables – unless you have studied them – as they might contain carcinogenic substances
  3. Napkin Test - If it leaves an oil mark, leave it on the table. Go for foods that are roasted, baked, broiled, or boiled
  4. Fill up on fibre and protein – Most weddings have a “Salad table”, “Dinner” tables and then a sweets table. Gorge on the salads section (avoid the mayonnaise). Try to limit or avoid refined breads and pastas and choose nuts and whole grains for fibre intake. They are healthier and can make you feel fuller earlier
  5. Share the dessert – All said and done, sometimes sweets are just irresistible. Suggestion – share the plate with a friend –so that you consume half the calories (allow him/her to take few bites as well).
  6. Chewing Gum - Chew it after you've had an appropriate serving of food. It will help you to avoid "picking" at the table.
  7. Measured drinking – Avoid Alcohol if you can. But if social drinking is the norm – make careful choices. Alcohol not only decreases your inhibitions, it also causes food cravings. For every alcoholic beverage, follow it with a glass of water to keep hydrated. Preferably, opt for red wine or vodka (~100 Calories in a glass)
Not a long list, but even if you are a carefree non-health freak, some of it might be relevant for you. Remember as many as you can, and see if you were able to manage at least 12 of these 20, before the end of 2012!

Have a blast! :)


What’s the best time to eat…3+3 Rule

Most people know that eating in the right proportion is critical to our health. What we also need to know is that eating at the right time is equally critical for our health as well! An old adage advised people to "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper."  How many of us follow this religiously? Or do we eat all meals like a king? 

Eating a big breakfast – Eat a big meal in the morning, so that the body gets plenty of energy to start the day – if coupled with moderate exercise, it would enhance your rate of metabolism (burning calories) through the rest of the day! But overeating should be avoided, as too many carbs in the morning would get you crashing down in the afternoon, once sugar levels stabilize. Breakfast should ideally be eaten within an hour of getting up and should not be avoided. People who skip breakfast are a third more likely to be obese

A long, large lunch – The basic difference between European style of eating and Americans is that Europeans have a lavish lunch, while Americans save that for their dinner. This might partly explain why Europe's obesity levels are lower than those of the U.S. Eating a large lunch is better for the body than eating a big dinner because it means that calories consumed throughout the day are more evenly distributed, and satiety is also more even throughout the day. But again, whatever extra goes in gets saved in your fat-bank! 

Snack-sized meals throughout the day – Small portions through the day, with smaller intervals, are also a good idea, as long as the definition of ‘small’ is clear. Incidentally, that is where most diet plans fail. If taken in line with target calorie consumption, it helps in keep the metabolism higher and feeling of fullness all the time. 

A big dinner -Most of us get our families together at dinner time, which is when everyone returns from work / college / school. As a result, we tend to have our biggest meal at night! While the idea of getting together is a big stress buster for kids, it is not best for your family’s health. Solution – Have smaller portions in dinner – and eat slowly by chewing more! This can accomplish the goals of both getting in some bonding time, as well as maintaining a healthy weight

Late-night eating - A big problem with eating late at night is that it does not burn those extra calories, and also does not allow the rest of the food (dinner) to be digested! Going to bed soon after eating means that more calories will be converted to fat; one should stay up for at least 2-3 hours after the meal, & one hour after snack Additionally, staying up should mean maintaining some level of activity, not zoning out in front of the TV. Sitting in the "recliner” is the same as going into the bed – and equally harmful!

Three meals with three snacks in between - Having three meals is important – the division of calorie-intake is up to the individual schedule and energy requirements. If the body goes more than four or five hours without eating, this will effect metabolism and how likely overindulgence is at the next meal. So snack with small portions in between.

In a nutshell, don’t get into fads like fasting diets or skipping meals. 3meals-3snacks approach and a balanced consumption of calories is all this is required to eat your day out!

November 21, 2012

A little more than...nothing!

No matter how little you do or how slow you move - whatever you can do - is still better than nothing!

November 20, 2012

Are you protecting your self-respect?

So do you have self-respect? Here is a check-list in case you want find out how to retain a high self-respect...:)

November 19, 2012

Less is More? or More is less?

Is your less a bit more? Read through this and see if anything out of this is relevant for you....

November 18, 2012

Plan - to be Punched!

A great quote to start the day - be it for start-ups like ours, or be it in the context of our health - no matter what you do - be prepared for the punch! :)

November 16, 2012

Excercise vs Food

Excellent representation of Exercise vs Food - Words cannot describe any better!

September 12, 2012

Calorie Counter - tummy fillers!

An interesting graphic to showcase how much of our stomach is filled, with the same level of calories consumed across three different food types.

So if you are a calories conscious person, here is what goes inside you!

February 10, 2012

Handy Tips for a Healthy Valentine's Day

If you are looking at simple and effective ideas to spend your Valentine's Day with your partner, here are an assortment of few handy tips for you 

  • Rather than tempting your beloved with chocolates, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine. 
  • Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as games, plays or simple mall hopping!   
  • Cooking at home is an excellent way to control the quality and amounts of what you eat. Whether cooking or making dressings, use the oils that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol – such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil – but use them sparingly, because they contain 120 calories per tablespoon
  • Prepare a romantic candlelit dinner at home
  • Eat from the same plate for atleast one meal  
  • Use this day as an opportunity to tell your loved one how you feel about him or her, and share ways that you can support each other’s health and wellness. 
  • Send a fruit basket or a pack of dark chocolates to your loved one that has natural sugar as well as healthy nutrients instead of sending sweets with added sugars. 
  • Go for a walk for sometime - walking is free, and costs nothing to get started. Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day provides heart-health benefits.
  • The usual “Do’s” stand out as well – stay hydrated, have less of fried foods, more of heart healthy snacks and stay active 
  • Make a change – pick one small thing you can change about your daily diet – start buying skim milk, order the nonfat latte, skip the afternoon vending machine visit or add an extra veggie to your dinner plate.
Even a couple of them being ticked, in our understanding, should get the smiles on your face, and significantly enhance your gratification levels! :)
Happy Valentine's!

January 20, 2012

For a stress-free 2012 – 20 Foods to Eat and 12 Foods to avoid

A detailed list of 20 Foods to Eat and 12 Foods to avoid - for a stress-free 2012
Coming soon (uploaded in the next 6 hours)! Follow us to stay updated! :)

Exercise - How to make yourself get up and go!

Are you one of those who diligently agrees to the fact that exercise is critical for our health, but immediately laments over your lack of "time" or "pressure" for the inability to do so? Well, for such innovative excusers  like us, here is a nice snippet I found at Peaceful Mind - an interesting approach to help you get up from your bed and wear those shoes! 

Overcoming the inertia of anxiety/depression with Exercise
Of course, knowing that something's good for you doesn't make it any easier to actually do it. Most people in the general population don't engage in any regular physical activity or quit shortly after starting an exercise program. 

Depression and anxiety can make it even more difficult to get active. By its nature, depression means that you don't enjoy activities, that you're often fatigued or sedentary, that you just don't feel like it, that you lack motivation, or that you don't stick to treatment regimens very well. You may have a hard enough time doing household chores, showering or going to work. How can you possibly consider adding exercise to the mix?
Overcoming that inertia can be difficult. 

Another challenge is maintaining, or adhering to, an activity program. Setting realistic goals, doing some problem solving, and recognizing that exercise won't always be fun or easy can help.

Identify what you enjoy. Figure out what type of exercise or activities you're more likely and less likely to do, as well as where, when and how often.  

Set reasonable goals. Your mission doesn't have to be to walk for an hour five days a week. Even a 10-minute walk can help lift your mood, get you into a more positive environment and refocus your thoughts, even temporarily, away from negative or self-critical thinking patterns. Custom-tailor your plan to your own needs and abilities. 

Break it down. It might be good to have an overall exercise strategy. But focusing on the perfect plan or an ideal rather than what's realistic for you can sabotage your efforts. Don't start with the ideal and work backward. Start with the realistic and work forward. Break your program down into smaller parts. If you can't fathom walking for 45 minutes, what is possible? Fifteen minutes? Five minutes? Start there, and build on that foundation. 

For many people, just getting shoes on and getting out the door is the majority of the effort. That's the hardest part. Once we're moving, though, it's often easier to keep moving. So put your energy into the front end into just getting started. 

Have short-term coping strategies. You may have a structured exercise program that calls for activity several times a week at the local gym. But plan for active ways to cope immediately and quickly with unexpected negative moods, depression, anxiety or other issues. For instance, even if it's your day off from exercise, taking a 10-minute walk may quickly help lift your mood if you're sad or anxious or find yourself focusing on negative thoughts. Try to respond to a negative mood with physical activity. 

Don't think of exercise as a burden. If exercise is just another "should" in your life that you don't think you're living up to, you'll associate it with failure. Rather, look at your exercise schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or antidepressant medication as one of the tools to help your treatment. Reframe the way you think about physical activity. Don't think of it as just another thing that you should be doing, but can't because of all of the demands in your life. Instead, think of it as something positive that you can do now to help you meet your goals, including feeling better physically and emotionally. 

Address your barriers. Identify your individual barriers to launching a program. If you're self-conscious, for instance, you might not want to exercise in public. If anxiety or depression makes you feel like you're carrying a heavy weight around, the idea of moving on purpose, doing something active, can seem absurd. The barriers may feel overwhelming. But when you have depression, it's easy to overestimate difficulty. Instead, develop a strategy to overcome or get around those barriers. If you don't want to go to a crowded gym, perhaps you can go to a quiet park or use a home treadmill or bike. If you're put off by the thought of spending 30 minutes jogging, aim for five minutes of walking instead of just doing nothing. If five minutes seems daunting, try two minutes. 

Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Exercise isn't always easy or fun. And it's tempting to blame yourself for that. People with depression are especially likely to feel shame over perceived failures. Don't fall into that trap. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. Chances are, you're going to come to a time when it gets really hard. If you say that you're a failure, that you blew it, that you have to start all over, you're more likely to quit altogether. Recognize that change is hard and setbacks are part of the change process. By learning how to cope with setbacks, you'll learn skills that will help you stay active over the long term.

I definitely got motivated after reading this note. Hopefully, you would find something relevant to motivate you as well! :)

This week's "Health" Question

Spare a minute to help us know what is seemingly the biggest source of stress for you...we respect your privacy, hence, this voting is completely anonymous - we would never know what you voted for! :)

January 13, 2012

Does Fat make you Fat?

If you are amongst the majority of us, who hates the word, "fat", here is a breather - not ALL fat is bad. There is a bit that is essential for all of us. But how much and where is something we need to know. So the best way to find it out is to see your Body Fat percentage.
According to Wikipedia, a person's body fat percentage is the total weight of the person's fat divided by the person's weight and consists of essential body fat and storage body fat. Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproductive functions. The percentage of essential body fat for women is greater than that for men, due to certain obvious demands! The percentage of essential fat is 3%–5% in men, and 8–12% in women.
Fat% is considered as a better mechanism to check weight, compared to BMI, as it takes into account the muscles and tissue components of a person, a factor that BMI does not take into account
Different cultures value different body compositions differently at different times, and some are related to health or athletic performance.
The table below is an indicative list and is provided by American Council on Exercise:
Essential fat

Essential fat is the level below which physical and physiological health would be negatively affected.
And if you want to check how much is it, check these following links - 
Simple Calculator - Just enter your weight and your waist size in inches, and you would get a relative idea of where you stand! or a more complex one at this link
So does Fat make you fat? :)

Olives - The Wonder Product

India is becoming the world leader in many life threatening diseases. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now the leading cause of death in India and the risk factors are also on the rise. India is now the diabetes capital of the world and CVD is also poised to be a serious health concern in the near future. The count of “hypertensive” individuals is expected to rise from 118 million in 2000 to 214 million in 2025. CVD strikes early and kills people in their productive mid-life years. The World Health Organization estimates that India would lose US$ 237 billion due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the next 7 years.

Most of these diseases are a result of the sedentary life style most of Indians. Lack of physical activity, missing of daily exercise regime, irregular eating, unhealthy snacking and overeating of junk food are the main contributors to this kind of lifestyle. Hence the need of the hour is to eat food which is rich in essential in the nutrients required by the body to stay healthy.

Olive oil is well known for its health properties and extensively used for cooking in the Mediterranean countries. In India, it is mainly used in massage, facials and other beauty treatments. The use of olive oil as a cooking medium is not widely prevalent and restricted to a select few.

Olive Oil is extracted from the Olive fruit after the Olive fruit is pressed. Hence there is no chemical extraction process involved.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and vitamin E and is claimed to have a significant effect on cholesterol. Using olive oil as a cooking medium can lower blood pressure and prevent risk of heart attacks. There are numerous other benefits of olive oil making it a vital addition in a healthy diet.

Some Health Benefits of Olive Oil:
1. Olive Oil is good for Heart Health because It contains very high percentage of MUFA.
2. Olive Oil helps in controlling Blood Pressure because it contains Polyphenols that protect LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation.
3. Olive Oil can be helpful in preventing Cancer because it contains Oleic acid which reduces the effect of an oncogene (a gene that will turn a host cell into cancer cell).
4. Olive Oil can enhance digestion because it helps body to assimilate vitamins A, D and K and better absorption on nutrients.

What is FAT?
Fats is one of the 3 main macro-nutrient groups that supply energy in food along with proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are essential for our body. They help in absorption of fat soluble Vitamins like A,D E, K into cells.

Type of Fats:
Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperature eg: ghee, vanaspati (dalda), coconut oil,butter etc. Their high intake increases risk of cardiovascular diseases. As they increase “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body and lower “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.

Poly unsaturated (PUFA)- They are liquid at room temperature and are mainly found in vegetable oils like sunflower, soyabean, safflower, corn etc. These oils are highly processed and decrease “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body but also decrease “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.  PUFA is hydrogenated to form “Transfats”. Trans fats are harmful for the body and increase the risk of heart diseases.

Monounsaturated (MUFA)- They are liquid at room temperature and are mainly found in plant sources like olive oil. Olive Oil has the highest percentage of MUFA (77%) amongst all the vegetable oils. MUFA is called the “Good” fat as it not only decreases “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body but also increases “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.

In India, Olive Oil is not widely used as a cooking medium as some consumers feel that it is not suitable for frying, sautéing and food will have a flavor of olives that will interfere in the taste of the food.
But on the contrary, none of these is true. Olive Oil is perfect for Indian style of cooking; the only thing to keep in mind is which variant to use for a particular recipe.