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It is a fact that women who go to work in India have specific nutritional needs that are often not met while they are at work. I have observed that women of child-bearing age are often at risk of low blood iron because of poor nutrition intake coupled with menstrual bleeding. Good and adequate nutrition before, during and after pregnancy is absolutely crucial for healthy babies because healthy babies are the future employees of India and they are our country’s future! One of the key nutrients required during pre and post pregnancy which can prevent certain child birth defects is folic acid. A woman’s body goes through tremendous changes during pregnancy and pregnancy and nursing makes enormous demands on a woman’s body. Which is why women need extra calories and extra rest during these periods. Safe food and safe water intake is crucial during pregnancy.
Other important factors for women at the workplace is access to healthy foods and nursing along with facilities and provisions to nurse at work. If a working woman can keep these above factors in mind during and after pregnancy then she can ensure better health for the baby resulting in improved cognitive and physical development apart from protecting the mother against osteoporosis and other diseases.
Modern Working Women Need More Energy
Women working through menopause must oftentimes increase their fluid intake to combat dehydration and hot flushes induced by hormonal changes. In general, women are more susceptible than men to anaemia and osteoporosis. In order for women to ward off these crippling diseases it is important for women to consume more iron and calcium-rich foods. It is also a myth that women need fewer calories than men. Many women juggle both work and home life. Add to that the crushing traveling routine in big cities and you are looking at a significant amount of calorie-intake for a working woman. It is therefore important for employers to provide enough fuel for women at the workplace in the form of healthy and nourishing foods that provide sufficient nutrients and calories. Companies that do not take care of the energy requirements of their female as well as male workforce may find that their employees are chronically tired and unproductive. On the eve of Women’s Day, I was invited by UBS Business Solutions at their Airoli office to deliver a lecture to the female employees, their mothers and mothers-in-law about the importance of Nutrition for Women. Have a look at some of the pictures below
As a leading Nutritionist in Mumbai, apart from my private clinic practice I also love to conduct Diet & Nutrition workshops for corporate employees and make them aware of the importance of good Nutrition habits which can eventually help them to overcome the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the corporate workplace and also negate the harmful consequences that our stressful lives place on our immune system. As part of my corporate counseling projects I also take pride in advising HR departments about healthy meal planning at company cafetarias.
Why Healthy Meal Planning at Cafetarias
It is important to have healthy meal planning at company cafetarias and not just hire a caterer and leave them to plan the dishes on their own. Obesity management should begin right at the beginning of the food creation cycle and by controlling the menu of caterers, companies can take the first step towards maintaining a healthy food culture at the workplace. Most office employees are present at work for atleast 8 hours a day, five to six days a week. Most office employees right from the office boys to the highest level of CXO’s face similar health concerns. I believe that an opportunity exists for us to provide for employees wholesome breakfast, lunch and snacks. HR managers have the opportunity not just to hire caterers but to also intervene in the menu and ingredient planning process and provide their employees with access to nutritious foods that will keep their employees healthy, productive and happy. Whether it be through the foods that are available in the canteens, meal vouchers, pleasant places to eat or by vending machines that dispense healthy options.
Opportunities for Employee Meal Planning
Ideally the meal break must be a time to rest, refuel and bond with the co-workers and release some of the stress and also to physically remove oneself from one’s cabin or workstation.
The meal setting must be clean and free from noise, vibrations, chemicals and other hazards of the work area. It must be a place to unwind.
The workplace can be a haven for good nutrition provided the company cares enough to initiate policies regarding the same. The cafeteria must have foods that any dietician or doctor would recommend for losing weight or lowering one’s cholesterol levels. Foods such as whole grains, breads, lean meats, fruits, pulses and vegetables must be emphasized over fattening fried foods.
Meals must be affordable and the eating areas must not be far from the area where food is served.
Lost Opportunities for Healthy Food at Workplace
In many companies, employees don’t have access to a proper canteen or a good affordable restaurant. In some digital media agencies etc. I have found that some of them don’t even have a refrigerator to safely store food that employees have brought along with them. Greasy canteens abound in most companies in India. Most companies have food courts or cafetarias that only offer fast-food options at lunch time! The streets outside these company buildings abound with street food stalls of questionable quality and poor hygiene conditions.
Shockingly some companies don’t even have formal meal breaks. Employees at such companies more often than not skip lunch and get by with only a sandwich or wada pavs and a Pepsi! Then there are situations where employees eat at their desks or in a messy backroom, have no proper place to wash up before eating and thus they regularly fall sick from food-borne contaminants.
The Reality of Nutrition at the Workplace
The sad reality is that there are few laws if any that clearly stipulate when, how and where workers gain access to food.
In most companies that I have been to, workers have low expectations about in-house meal programs and they often feel that they have more pressing concerns than meals!
In countries like India, less than one quarter of office employees consume enough calories for normal activity. And for daily wage labourers whose sole income depends on heavy manual labour, their nutrition intake is even worse!
In India we have the unique problem of half our population being thin and malnourished due to inadequate nutrition intake while the other half is also malnourished and obese from over consumption of the wrong foods!
Eventually a cycle begins to emerge. Poor health leads to lower earnings which in turn leads to a poorly qualified employee force. This is in turn leads to lower productivity, loss of competitiveness of the company in the market, high business costs and lower economic growth. The final result is that the employees have lower wages and greater disparity of wealth which in turn again leads to poor nutrition and poor health!
Thankfully some enlightened companies are waking up and breaking this vicious cycle. Zydus Takeda one of India’s biggest pharma and healthcare company invited me to help convert their regular cafeteria menu into a healthier one. I love assignments like these because it helps me to target a large number of employees and positively impact their health and productivity. Have a look at some pictures from my recent trips to their headquarters in Navi Mumbai where I advised the management as well as the Chefs on Heathy Meal Planning and devised a monthly menu for them where the food not only has variety every day but is also balanced and healthy!
If you feel that the food served in your company’s cafetaria leaves a lot to be desired in terms of nutrition, then do not hesitate to call me on my number +91 98206 07875 to discuss how I can initiate similar healthy + tasty meal plans at your workplace.
I get this question a lot regardless of whether a person is on a diet or not. Well the answer is that if you consume a lot of refined sugar in your day to day food choices then I would say that it’s a good idea to cut back on the sweets. You don’t need a Dietician or an Obesity or Weight Loss Consultant to inform you that having a sweet tooth can lead to weight gain. I have said this in my blog posts before and I will say this again – Weight gain is both visible and invisible. Weight gain creeps up on you in visible ways as in the ways that you can see on your tummy and waistline and in the invisible way that your liver accumulates fat. Too much consumption of foods containing refined sugar can also lead to accelerated aging. Another negative side effect of consumption of too much sugar is decreased immunity – which is your body’s reduced ability to fight bacteria and viruses.
Whenever you are faced with a dilemma as to the sugar content of anything you are consuming, take a look at the sugar content on labels and watch out for the term “added sugars”. Even if you do not see sugar listed on the labels as an ingredient, that does not mean that sugar is not present. Many a times, you could be misleaded about the sugar content with words that end in –ose such as dextrose, fructose, lactose, galactose, glucose, sucrose, and maltose. Some labels also hide the sugar content in words like syrup and juice. Examples include corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maple syrup, malt syrup, and cane juice. There are also other less obvious names for sugar such as dextrin, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar, rice malt, nectars, molasses, polyols and sorghum. If you are someone who is careful of what you are putting into your body you must memorise these words and consider it as a part of your new “health lingo”!
Everytime you go to shop at the supermarket, be mindful of what you are buying and take a long hard look at the sugar sources. It is not always obvious when certain foods are high in sugar content. For example, do you know that a single serving of tomato ketchup, granola bar, dry fruits or a frozen dinner meal can contain the same amount of sugar (sometimes even more!) than a serving of sugary morning cereals!
I do know that giving up on refined sugars can be extremely difficult because of the fact that it can be extremely addictive. If you have been addicted to sugar for the longest time it can be very difficult to just quit cold turkey. Like all other bad habits, it can take several weeks or even months to break the cycle of a bad habit. Eating too much of sweets and sugary substances is one of the most harmful habits. But breaking it is not going to happen overnight. Start slowly and stay committed. If you need guidance, just contact a trained Dietitian or Nutritionist to help you understand how to slowly wean yourself away from foods that contain too much sugar. As a Dietitian, I help my clients to not immediately restrict something from their diets so much so that all you can do all day is think about candy and ice cream!
Change Your Thought Process
A lot of times I counsel my clients to change their thought processes. Over time, many people have learnt to reward themselves with sweets for a job well done or for reaching certain goals. So my work is to reprogram their thought processes. A lot of people think weight loss is just a question of eating right and exercising. But I would go a step further and say that it takes a weight loss counselor like me to reprogram the minds of people. It takes hard mental work to disassociate the emotional relationship that people have with foods. Here’s a free tip – When you have the craving to have something sweet, try and change your routine. Instead of reaching for a laddoo or that tub of ice cream in your freezer have a piece of fruit which has complex carbs as well. If that wont work for you, try and stick to a small piece of chocolate or a couple of scoops of ice cream which has less than 150 calories.
Sugar is Not your Enemy
Sugar does not have to become your enemy. It is unrealistic to think that you can remove all traces of sugar from your diet. That can only set you up for disappointment. Just be aware at all times of how much refined sugar you are consuming – that’s all!
It is no secret really that most of us are not really as healthy as nature intended us to be. Not just you, there have been many instances when even I have not been as healthy as I’d like to be either! Maybe I was working out to the point of exhaustion but not eating and drinking right or I was eating well but living with so much stress that my body was breaking under the weight of it. Our bodies much like our careers and our personal lives are a work in progress. We are not talking about perfection. We are talking about choosing to stick with a roadmap that leads you to a healthier and happier existence.
Personally, I know a lot of people who went from kids who liked to eat ice cream and chocolates for breakfast to teenagers who liked samosas and Big Macs to young adults who swing from one diet to another to finally landing up as vegans and whole-food eaters! This is a cycle that most of us take in life. You could still have your wine and potato wafers. What’s life without life’s small pleasures?! I consult with my clients and make them understand how to make wise food choices and how to eat right so that they can make room for the less-than-stellar choices every once in a while. If you are struggling with your weight and eating habits, all I can say is that you can also get to that place. I can provide the road map but it is up to you to take the journey.
The approach you take with me is different from those you will find in weight loss centers and other Dietitians. I do not give you an all-or-nothing approach. I do not overhaul your diets to the extent that you do not even recognize what you are eating! Nor will you go from eating steaks and fries to subsisting on dal roti and air the very next day! I tell my clients that approaches like these don’t work in the long run. I do not want you to go on a diet – I want you to start living a healthy lifestyle!
Too Busy to Eat Well
Life seems to fly by like a whirlwind. Between work and socializing and making dinner to rushing to your kid’s cricket practice, food has become not something to nourish and energize but rather something that entertains and fills a gaping void in our lives. Fast food restaurants are now so ubiquitous and inexpensive that a lot of people now eat out all the time. Food Delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy now make it easier to order food from fast food restaurants which are delivered straight into our living rooms. The frequency of eating fast food has increased so much that from a time when our parents used to eat out once a month and eating out was once an occasion to celebrate, it has now become the accepted norm to eat out all the time. The eating-out and restaurant industry in India is now 28 times the size of Bollywood and much bigger than even the hallowed IT sectors in terms of the size of the market, with combined revenues running into hundreds of billions of dollars each year and growing!
Your Stove is Missing You
Here’s an idea – Go buy a nice bright kettle and some pots and pans today and show your kitchen some love! Restaurants and brands are brainwashing you into believing that since you are saving your time cooking, you can spend more hours at the office, commute longer and spend more time binge-watching Netflix! We are definitely filling up our hours but are we really too busy to cook or are we simply allocating our time in a different way? When I help my clients do meal planning I make them realise that in the time it takes for you to browse through the hundreds of restaurants on the Swiggy app and decide which dish to order and for the time it takes to be delivered to your house (mostly around 45 mins), you could have easily cooked something in your kitchen! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A bit of fresh vegetables cooked with pasta and tomato puree or some veggie burritos can satisfy your hunger. Simple home cooked meals can be more satisfying and far less expensive than ordering or eating out. When you order food from a restaurant, you may have saved some time but you have worked a little longer today and you are going to repeat the same pattern tomorrow. Have you seen the hamster on a wheel? Think about whether your life is starting to resemble the same mouse.
But It Tastes Divine
It is indeed hard to resist the over-processed ingredient combos that we currently call food simply because the companies selling it have their hooks into you! Amidst the sea of French fries and mac and cheese, the humble cauliflower or cabbage tastes a little boring. Our taste buds have grown to crave the sweet, salty and rich tastes of manufactured food. But we human beings are not born to love those manufactured flavours. Giant Fast food corporations want to get you addicted to their packaged processed foods. They hire flavour scientists (yes that’s a job!) who research and find the right combinations of flavour molecules to carry that cocktail of flavour – salt to wake up your taste buds and sugar to provide a rush of pleasure. When you eat out at your favourite Chinese restaurant you get a wave of flavour, energy and comfort that leaves you feeling lost and empty immediately afterwards. In a situation like this, I don’t exactly blame you if you don’t like your cucumbers. They would taste odd with no sugary dressing on them. But you can start eating healthy – if you manage to change your taste buds. Once you start to see the difference that real food can make to your health you will no longer eat certain foods because they start to feel fake. You will still be able to enjoy the occasional icecream but that big white cake that has been ordered for your office colleague’s birthday will seem less alluring!
When you come to my weight loss center, I chart a path for you that meets you where you currently stand and I show you how the journey can be. Over a period of time, you will start to leave behind the old habits that no longer suit the new and healthier you. Life will become full of great food that energizes you, fills you up and actually tastes soooo good! And oh, did I mention to forget we are even going to leave room for that night out with your friends or your friend’s mom’s famous Biryani! When you embark on a weight loss plan with me, it is going to take some work but not SACRIFICE. When I ask you to change your diet for the better, I am asking you to become more mindful, conscious of your choices, patient with your progress and accepting of where you stand currently. I make you aware of why a bite of broccoli is really medicine for your cells and why that stuff in that bright box is not actually food!
In today’s world, most people of the younger generation tend to eat out more often than their parents did. If you are an upwardly mobile corporate professional or businessman or businesswoman then traveling around the world for business trips is taken for granted. Whereas our parents would have done zero to a handful of trips abroad during their lifetimes, today’s generation does a minimum of four or five outstations trips in a single year! When you are out traveling whether for business or leisure, every meal that you eat will be at a restaurant or someplace else. According to me, it is indeed possible to travel the world and also not put on weight if you are mindful of your eating patterns. Below are some tips and tricks to make sure that you do not undo the good work that you do when you are in your home city.
While growing up we were told not to waste food because food is a gift from God. We were reminded of the many millions who went hungry whereas we had food on our plates. But in today’s world of abundance, that attitude of polishing off every last morsel on our plates can end up killing us. Be strong enough to leave food on your plate even though you have paid for it. Your body will thank you for it.
When ordering at restaurants, always go through the menu carefully to see what side orders come with the main dish. If items like fried rice, fries, pasta or other starchy foods are on the side-items list, tell the waiter to substitute them with vegetables or salads. If you do not check in advance and the side orders make an appearance on your table, it is human nature to eat them if you do not intend to do so. In my opinion it is far easier not to let those items appear on the table in the first place.
If you are eating alone, then it would be a good idea to ignore the items on the main course and choose only the soup or appetiser menu. If one plate of appetisers are not enough then have two or combine a soup + appetiser. The appetisers often have a wide range of flavours and they rarely come with too much carbs. When you are ordering soups, try and be a bit more careful. Avoid thickened soups because many chefs use cornstarch as a thickening agent. If you are traveling to the US, UK or Australia and if you are mindful of your weight, it is a good idea to avoid main courses because serve sizes in these countries tend to be enormous. In other countries where serve sizes may be smaller, do not be ashamed to leave food on your plate if you have had enough.
When you are at a restaurant, inform the waiter beforehand that you do not want to have chips or fries even though they may be included in your meal choices. If you ask, they may substitute French fries with sautéed veggies or salad. If unwanted food items still appear on your plate, simply pick up a spoon and a fork and transfer them to a side plate and then ignore them much as you would ignore an unwanted guest!
Fast food franchises such as Pizza Hut, Dominos, McDonalds etc. are to be avoided wherever possible. In my opinion the only good thing that these restaurants provide to the public are clean ‘convenience rooms’! Even if you do end up at a fast food outlet by using their washroom amenities, order the ‘least dangerous’ items on the menu. Order a salad if it’s available or else just eat the burger patty and throw away the bun! Do not order colas or sodas if you are thirsty. A can of mineral water, tea or even sugar free coffee is a good option when you want to drink something.
If you are traveling with your spouse or a friend, eating out is much simpler. Portion control i.e. eating small meals is the best way to control your weight. A good idea to control portion sizes and ensure that you don’t overeat and stuff yourself with far too many calories is to order one main course and order one spare plate between the two of you. It may look cheeky or even cheap but then you will end up saving calories and maintaining your weight. You also end up saving some cash! But that is a bonus and not the main intention. Another option is to order a main course and a side salad or appetiser. Appetisers are meant to be shared. Once you get the extra plate, you can then share your main course as well! When you are eating as a pair, you can also share your food preferences. Your partner who can afford to eat the high-carb items can eat them whereas you can go for the lean proteins and salads. Trust me, at times you will realise that even when you share a main course between two people you will still end up leaving food on the plate! Remember that food is the smallest cost in running a restaurant. Chefs and Hotel Managers have a policy of serving large quantities to ensure customers return.
Hotel breakfasts can vary widely – from excellent buffets to lousy breakfasts of stale idlis and instant coffee! Breakfasts can also be extremely pricey. If the hotel is a five star chain then most breakfasts are complimentary and needless to say the breakfast buffets in five star hotels are amongst the best in their cities. As long as you manage to eat moderately and avoid all the high calorie items you should do fine. If you are staying at a budget hotel then it makes sense to inquire at the reception about the nearest diners, cafes and restaurants. Walk to the nearest option. The walk will not only double up as your morning exercise but will also stoke your appetite for the biggest meal of the day!
When eating out, it pays to remember that the portion sizes that are heaped on your plate are not chosen by a Dietician to improve your health but are chosen by the chef to entice you to return back! If you follow the above tips when traveling you will not only save calories but also end up saving yourself the guilt of having put on weight and save yourself the enormous hard work of burning all those calories you put on!
If you are traveling abroad for a short or long term visit, come and see me for a more comprehensive meal plan that will help you make the most of your trip. Eating wisely will ensure that you not only keep off the weight but you will also end up feeling more energetic and have the energy and the inclination to meet your vacation or business goals. Call on +91 98206 07875 for a consultation either at my center or through online channels.
If you want to lose weight you can lose weight in myriad ways. You can go down the road that models and actors take and starve yourself silly but then I don’t think you want to do that. It’s just not healthy in the long term. Let us look at a few things that Dieticians and Experts agree upon when it comes to Dieting and Losing Weight.
Drink Lots of Water
First things first, you need to drink a lot of work. Most people do not drink enough water or as much as they should on a daily basis. Colas and coffee do not count. Depending on your weight and the amount of physical activity that you undertake, you should be drinking at least 3 – 4 litres of water a day.
Water acts as a natural appetite suppressant. If you drink a full glass of water before starting your meal, your stomach will contain lesser food. And no, you will not gain weight by drinking too much water contrary to what some might tell you. Actually the problem happens when you don’t drink enough water. When you do not drink enough water, your body tends to get dehydrated and when it does get enough water, it tends to hold onto it and stores it for future need. That is when we feel swollen and bloated with water weight. If you drink enough water on a regular basis then your body releases the water naturally. If you drink enough water throughout the day then you have nothing to worry about. Drinking a lot of water will give you the twin benefits of hydration and a feeling of fullness for appetite control.
Eating a balanced meal is important. This is one thing that we learned in our school textbooks that we would do well to carry forward in our adult life. The basic food groups are the basis on which healthy diet and nutrition is built upon. A healthy meal must contain ample proteins and carbohydrates. The main all-important source of energy in our diet is carbohydrates whereas protein burns fat. If nothing else, every meal must contain one protein and one carbohydrate group.
Do Not Skip Meals
Never skip meals. This is by far the most destructive thing you can do to your precious body in the name of losing weight. I have seen countless men and women do it. To lose weight, a person starts to eat just one or two meals a day. Your metabolism needs the regularity and consistency of regular meals. When you have erratic eating schedules, your body tends to think that it is starving and then whatever it takes in is stored as fat to be used as energy later.
Exercise is a Must
You just cannot lose weight when you are sedentary all the time. Those who exercise everyday live longer and overall feel better about their lives than those who don’t. They also lose weight fast. I generally advise my clients to keep it simple. There is no need to join an expensive gym or hire a personal trainer. Start with walking at the local park. Thomas Jefferson said, “The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.” If you are obese and over your 40’s, do remember that it is never too late to get into perfect shape! There are lots of ways you can incorporate exercise and cardiovascular activities into your daily life and help your weight loss efforts.
Formula for Weight Loss
There is a very simple formula for banishing obesity. Eat lesser calories than what you burn everyday. For example if you eat 2000 calories every day and you burn 2500, then you will lose weight.
You might say, “Why don’t I just meet a dietitian and cut down on my calorific intake instead of burning calories?” Well in that case you would end up starving yourself and that is not a good idea at all! Also doing this will have the effect of making you feel weak and hungry with the result that your body will compensate by making you crave for more quantities of the wrong kinds of foods later on. The secret of losing weight without starving yourself is to make correct food choices. You have to choose foods that are low in calories but can satisfy your hunger.
The Weight of Food
There was a very interesting and illuminating study done that shows the relation between our eating patterns and weight gain. It was performed by New Zealand’s University of Auckland in 1999. Male participants in the study were divided into 3 groups. Each group was fed on a diet with varying fat percentages but with no limits on the calories that they could consume. The men were instructed to eat as much as they wanted from the food choices given to them.
As expected, the men who were eating the 20 % fat diets lost weight because they were consuming less calories. Fat contains about 9 calories per gram as compared to 4 calories per gram for carbs and protein. Despite the reduction in total calories consumed, the men in the group were not hungry all the time.
The researchers discovered that the men in the low-fat group compensated unconsciously by choosing foods that had the same weight as the men in the higher-fat groups. Which is why they did not feel hungry.
What this implies is that it is the total weight of the food that you eat that may play a more crucial role in satisfying your hunger. In other words, you do not need to consume high-calorie foods or high fat foods to feel full. Rather your stomach has to feel the weight of a certain amount of food in order to dispel your hunger for a few hours and make you feel satiated and content.
There are a lot of other studies also done that suggests that people eat the same quantities of food on a daily basis regardless of the fat and calories that the meals contain. Its like your stomach has an internal weight machine that has to be reached for you to be fully satisfied after a meal!
This may explain the tried and tested idea of drinking a glass of water and having a bowl of soup before a meal to curb your appetite. This can also explain the mystery as to why people gain weight despite going on a low-fat diet because the large part of their meals were comprised of starchy and highly processed foods that were low in fiber.
You can eat 10 slices of white bread before feeling full while two slices of whole wheat bread can make you feel full. Eating high fiber foods like oatmeal helps you manage your calories without making you feel hungry.
Also remember that you don’t have to wait for my next article to decide to come and visit me. I will give you a diet and weight loss plan that you will set up you for life! Take a look at the above image. Whatever stage you are at, you can become the woman on the extreme right with just a few minor tweaks to your diet and lifestyle! The journey from fat to fit is not very long and arduous. It’s actually jut a phone call away! Call on +91 98206 07875.
Thanks to the fact that you require food for existing, your body does not waste any time in letting you know that it is ready for breakfast, lunch, dinner and also snacks. Let me shed some light on the signals that your body uses to get you to the dining table, through the entrance of your favourite pizza parlour or to the sandwichwala and chaiwala outside your office building.
Difference Between Hunger and Appetite
We eat for two main reasons – The first reason is hunger and the second reason is appetite. Hunger and appetite are not the same things. In fact both are two entirely different processes. Hunger is the need for food and it’s a physical reaction that creates chemical changes within your body and is related to a naturally low level of glucose several hours after you finish a meal. Hunger is a protective mechanism and is instinctive by nature. Hunger ensures that you receive the fuel that helps you to function in a reasonable manner.
Appetite on the other hand is a desire that wells up within you and makes you crave for food. Appetite is a sensory and psychological reaction that stimulates a physiological response within you that is involuntary. You see something that looks good or you smell something good you start to salivate and your stomach starts to contract.
The real difference between Hunger and Appetite is that when you are hungry, you eat one burger. After that, your appetite may urge you to eat one more burger because they look good and smell great. Appetite is the reason why we say, “Your eyes are bigger than your tummy!” When restaurants fill up the air with the smell of food cooking or when you see an advertisement showing melted cheese or gooey chocolate, one realises that the marketing men and women who advertise these products really know their customers!
The Cycle of Hunger & Fullness
The body tries to create cycles of activity that mirrors a 24-hour cycle. Just like sleep, you feel hungry also at regular intervals. The most clear signals that you get from your body when it wants food is when your stomach starts to growl! An empty tummy knows no manners! If you don’t fill it up immediately it is going to issue a loud and sometimes embarrassing shout-out for food! The rumbling signals from your stomach are the hunger pangs. Hunger pangs are muscular contractions. When your stomach is full, these contractions are responsible for moving food down the length of the intestinal tract. But when you have an empty stomach, thee contractions simply squeeze out air and hence the noise.
Beating the 4 Hour Hungries
For each and every human being on Earth, the cycle of hunger creates a feeding schedule that makes you eat 4 meals every day – breakfast, lunch, a mid-day snack and dinner. A lot of people stick to a 3-meal a day culture which keeps large gaps between meals because of which when glucose levels drop after 5 pm a lot of people undergo mood swings, get irritable and make mistakes at work. Either this or they go grab the nearest meal from the cafeteria or a roadside stall which is usually high fat and full of calories.
More Frequent Meals
The 5 small meals a day suggestion that is so common today was first suggested by David Jenkens PhD, and Tom Wolever, MD, PhD, of the University of Toronto about twenty years back. They had set up a study that was designed to test the idea that if you spread out the digestion process by eating several small meals a day rather than 3 big meals. They realised that by doing so, one could spread out the secretion of insulin and help keep the blood glucose levels at an even level throughout the day.
It is a study that has revolutionised the world of weight loss through Dieting. Diets that are designed to help a person lose weight now emphasize eating several small meals daily rather than just 3 big ones. To be fair though this is not an approach that works for everyone. For some people who are in jobs or situations where they cannot eat several small meals daily or if eating too many meals is a distraction then I advise three big meals a day.
How to Maintain a Healthy Appetite
The best way to deal with hunger and appetite is to recognize and respect your body’s natural signals. I always tell my clients to listen to their bodies and know their own selves intimately. When you are hungry just go ahead and eat! But be mindful and eat in reasonable quantities. You must also remember that no one is perfect. If you tend to overeat one day it’s not the end of the world! Reduce your calorific intake over the next few meals proportionately and you will be just fine! It’s all about give and take. Give a little and take a little.
Responding to your Environment When Eating
Your physical environment also makes a huge difference to your appetite and hunger which in turn causes you to sometimes eat more and sometimes eat less. When it’s cold, you are more tempted to eat stews, roasts, thick soups etc. while one is more tempted to eat salads, chilled fruit and sandwiches on hot summer days. It is always a good idea to ensure that the environment that you are in supports your weight loss regime. If you have just started a weight loss routine stay in town for a few months until you meet your fitness goals. Do not dash off to Europe for a vacation in between. Combine the lure of an exotic holiday plus a colder climate and you are bound to sway from your diet and exercise regime with the result that you will be back to square one or may even be worse off from where you started!
Exercising gives you a big appetite right? Well not exactly. If you exercise regularly you are actually more likely to have a normal appetite and moreover you will not be hungry immediately post a workout because:
Exercise pulls up stored energy i.e. glucose and fat – out of body tissues, so that your glucose levels are steady and you do not feel very hungry.
Exercise will slow the passage of food through your digestive tract. Your stomach will tend to empty at a slower rate and you will not feel full for a longer period of time.
Exercising vigorously also benefits you tremendously and reduces your anxiety levels. And that can be one less incentive to reach out for a snack.
Medicines that Change Your Appetite
Some drugs that you may take can affect your appetite causing you to eat more or eat lesser than usual. These side effects are not often mentioned by doctors when they hand out their prescriptions. Some examples of appetite uppers are certain antidepressants, antihistamines (allergy pills), diuretics (drugs that make you urinate more frequently), steroids (drugs that fight inflammation), and tranquilizers (calming drugs). Medicines that may reduce your appetite include some antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medications, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Come and see me at my center in Andheri West, Mumbai if you’d like to understand your body and your relationship with food in a better way! The number to call for an appointment is +91 98206 07875.
During the time of pregnancy, the energy needs of a woman increase proportionately for her to allow a healthy increase in body weight. A pregnant woman’s energy needs increase during the first trimester. An extra amount of 300 calories per day are required during the second and third trimester. A Weight gain of half a kg during the first trimester is normal and recommended by me. In the second and third trimesters about .75 to a kg of weight gain is healthy. A total pregnancy weight gain of 11 – 15 kgs. is healthy and recommended.
Ideal Weight Gain for an Underweight Woman
During pregnancy if a woman is underweight, I would recommend a maximum weight gain of 12 – 18 kgs. If a woman is already obese or overweight at the start of pregnancy, a weight gain of 6 – 8 kgs is considered to be safe. It is here that I would like to urge any pregnant woman reading this article that pregnancy is not the time that one should think about losing weight. A woman who gains a healthy amount of weight will result into healthy growth for the unborn infant. Weight loss is not a concept that should enter a woman’s mind during pregnancy.
Being Overweight during Pregnancy
If perchance a woman puts on a little too much weight, I would not encourage her to think about losing weight. I would advise her to use restraint while eating and not exceed a weight gain of 0.5 kg per week for the remaining weeks of her pregnancy. She can divide her recommend weight gain by the number of remaining weeks and use that figure as a guide for total weight gain during the rest of her pregnancy.
What Contributes to Weight Gain
As a woman’s weight increases during pregnancy, about 3 – 3.5 kgs can be linked to the weight of the infant at birth. The rest of the weight is distributed throughout the mother’s body In various tissues that develop during pregnancy. These tissues include placenta, amniotic fluid, increased breast tissue, expanded blood volume, and fat storage and muscle. These help prop up the mother’s health during pregnancy and post birth. To aid the delivery, the mother’s bones also tend to become stronger and denser during pregnancy which adds to the overall weight.
Protein Requirements of a Pregnant Woman
A woman’s protein requirements are increased during pregnancy. An increase of 25 – 50 gms of protein per day above a woman’s normal recommendations is advised by me. Vegetarians and Vegans should definitely consult a Nutritionist for a proper diet that details their protein intake on a day by day and month by month basis.
Vitamin Intake During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is generally a time when a woman’s vitamin needs are increased especially the intake of folate and Vitamin D. The manufacturing of DNA requires ample amounts of folate. Since the unborn infant is composed of fast-reproducing cells, extra folate intake is a must. Extra folate intake also helps support the red blood cell formation during the expansion of the mother’s blood volume. Folate-rich foods like orange juice, fruits and vegetables must be consumed everyday. Increased Vitamin D intake is also important during pregnancy. Vitamin D helps in the process of calcium metabolism and foetal bone formation. I recommend regular and moderate exposure to sunlight as well as Vitamin-D fortified milk and dairy products.
Prenatal Vitamin / Supplements
A lot of nutritionists advise pregnant women to take prenatal vitamin / mineral supplements. During pregnancy most women experience some unusual eating patterns. Typically depending on the food habits and strength of the mother, I would advise prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements that include folate, Vitamin D, iron, zinc and calcium along with omega-3 fats.
Nutritional Factors Affecting Growth
During pregnancy a woman must remember that dietary and lifestyle factors do contribute to the proper or improper growth of an unborn infant. Factors such as caffeine, alcohol and smoking can negatively impact a developing infant in the womb. Throughout pregnancy, the unborn infant is vulnerable to the effects of nutritional deficiency and toxicity and more so during the embryonic stage. Adequate nutritional, behavioural and environmental care must be taken throughout the entire pregnancy period in order to increase the chances of delivering a healthy baby.
Smoking and Alcohol
If cigarette smoking is gravely injurious to a fully grown adult, then it requires only an iota of common sense to imagine the permanent harm that cigarette smoke can cause to unborn infants. Pregnant mothers who smoke are a far greater risk of delivering low birth and premature infants. Infants born to mothers who smoke or have been ingesting secondary smoke are at risk for childhood cancers and sudden infant death. Infants whose mothers consume alcohol are at risk for low birth rate, physical deformities and poor mental development.
Caffeine and Pregnancy
Research has shown that the risk of fetal abortion and low birth weight is higher amongst pregnant women who consume 10 cups of coffee a day. I would suggest pregnant women to stay away completely from coffee or tea during pregnancy until more definitive research is done in this area.
Exercise During Pregnancy
A lot of women have traditionally stayed away from exercise or physical activity during pregnancy fearing harm to the developing foetus. Times have changed though and it is clear that regular exercise does not have any adverse effects on the growth and development of the foetus. In fact, regular exercise and prenatal yoga can provide some benefits during delivery such as shorter delivery times and less perceived discomfort and pain. I would advise a pregnant woman not to give up physical activity altogether and take some pregnancy yoga classes if possible. I do advise some amount of caution when it comes to the type of activity that a pregnan woman pursues. You should avoid any form of contact sports like kickboxing or any movement where ther are rapid directional changes and jarring motions. I advise low impact aerobics, prenatal yoga, walking and swimming as safe activities during swimming.
You can call on +91 98206 07875 for consulting me for Pregnancy Diets and Nutrition During Pregnancy.
I always tell my clients that “Making small incremental changes every day has a big impact”. When we get busy in life or when something important or life-changing happens for the better or for the worse, healthy eating habits and exercise are usually the top two habits that are dropped off the list. This is the reason why one must develop good lifestyle habits as early on in life as possible.
Finding a Habit You Can Follow
It is important to find a habit that you can easily stick to and amalgamate into your day to day life as opposed to finding a habit that makes you cringe everytime you think about it or one that you have to travel a long distance for. Jogging or walking is one such habit that is easy for most folks whatever your age or gender. Read an earlier article of mine about this subject here – The Benefits of Walking. It is easy to walk for a few kms early in the morning or late in the evening. You could find a park close to your home or your office, put on your headphones and walk your blues away. There is simply no excuse for not incorporating even a walking activity into your daily life! Whether you have school going kids or whether you have a high-stress job, you can always incorporate a walking or a 30 – 45 min jogging routine into your life. You can make this period your “me-time” and over a period of time you may even find yourself getting addicted to the routine so much so that no event however big or small in your life can shake you off your daily walks! By rejecting the “I don’t have the time” excuse you will realise that you are a lot more tired on the days that you sleep in late rather than on the days when you get up at the crack of dawn to exercise.
Health Care Reform
Two thirds of the total diseases in India fall into the chronic lifestyle diseases categories like Obesity or Tobacco. And to think that these diseases which take thousands of lives every year are easily preventable. It is not easy to make lifestyle changes if your habits are well-entrenched. But remember getting healthy is a choice you make not only for yourself but also for your family. If you love your spouse or your children you want to be there for them as long as possible and not leave them to fend for themselves by only thinking of your own self and your own pleasures. Make a start by eating more fruits and vegetables. If you cannot run walk. If you cannot walk, take a skipping rope and jump!
Understand your Body
Most people are not even aware of their own bodies. The will have a ten minute conversation with their GP who might say that “You need to lose some weight”. And that’s about it. Ideally you should ask your doctor what your health file contains – right from your last blood test results to your family history risks, This way you will be more aware of your own body and you will be able to make informed and intelligent decisions when it comes to the issues that are plaguing your health.
If you want to lose weight remember that most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order to lose weight and keep the weight off. Sleep is a dynamic process. It is not just a time when your system shuts down and nothing else occurs. In fact there is a lot of things happening when you sleep. The body reboots your metabolic functions when you sleep. Your brain produces messenger molecules or neuropeptides that play a crucial role in weight regulation. If you are not able to finish your quota of seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis then there will be a cumulative effect and the neuropeptides will not be able to do their jobs.
When you do not get enough sleep, your ghrelin levels go up. Ghrelin is the hormone that triggers your appetite. During this time your levels of leptin also goes down. Leptin is the hormone which aids in controlling your appetite and helps in metabolising your carbs. When the levels of leptin goes down, you tend to crave for food particularly those of the fatty and high-carb variety.
So remember that even if your diet and exercise routines are in place, lack of sleep can negate all your efforts at weight loss. A good night’s sleep is an absolute must when you are trying to lose weight and become healthier. When you sleep well you will crave for less carbs and exercise will feel less strenuous. Your mood will improve and your skin, eyes and hair will be at their glowing best.
I often tell my clients that the successful clients who tend to lose weight through my programs are the ones who have mastered the psychological factor. One of the best ways that I spur my clients to lose weight is by urging them to look at their weight loss goal as something like a sporting event that they are getting ready for! To be successful in any game or tournament you have to know the rules of the game, the basics of performing the game and also the right information in your diet in order to make it effective.
When you are in possession of all the tools of the game, you can succeed and excel in almost anything that you take up in life!
Tools for Weight Loss
One of the main tools for success is to inculcate the right frame of mind. By getting into the right frame of mind, you can get dully motivated, committed and develop the skills you need for success. Any obstacles, temptations and distractions that you meet with can be easily overcome once you achieve mind over matter. When you are psychologically ready during your journey of weight loss, your weight loss program will not become a burden but rather you will have more fun during the process. You will be able to create changes that will lead you on to a healthy lifestyle and the changes will last with you forever.
Your mindset will dictate how you behave and also control your thoughts and actions. Developing the right mindset will not happen overnight though. It will certainly take a bit of effort from your side but it will ultimately be well worth the time that you spend sharpening your mindset. You will have to monitor your progress and behaviour from time to time. It will also not be a cakewalk throughout. Sometimes following your weight loss program will be easy and sometimes it wont. But there are some good ways to get yourself into the right mindset. Below are a few steps.
1. Write Down your Goals
Write down on a piece of paper, the number of the weight that you want to reach. Also write down any other personal goals that you might have out of life in general. I believe that since you are getting down to undertaking a big and audacious goal such as weight loss, you might as well also focus on improving other areas of your life.
2. Be Clear About your Goals
Do not generalise your goals because then you end up trivialising it. Your goals are IMPORTANT. So go ahead and make them important!
3. Set yourself Deadlines
Say you want to lose weight, tell yourself that, “I will lose 6 kgs by Diwali” or “I will lose 12 kgs by New Years Eve!” When you give yourself deadlines, you are giving yourself a goal that you can work for.
4. Set Achievable Goals
One of the commonest mistakes that most people make when it comes to weight loss is that they bite off more than they can chew (pun intended)! If you want to lose 25 kgs do not expect to do it in a matter of weeks. Try to set yourself healthy deadlines. Try breaking a big goal into smaller parts. Tell yourself that you will lose 5 kgs every month instead of a big ’25 kg weight loss goal”.
5. Focus on your goals everyday
Post your goals where you can see them everyday. On the refrigerator, at your workstation, on your mobile phone as a home screenshot, on the visor of your car etc. When you focus on your goals everyday, you will be able to keep your weight loss goals in mind at all times and that way you will be able to commit in a big way.
6. Be Committed
This one’s a no-brainer. You have to stay on course and committed at all costs. There is a reason that you want to achieve your goals – looking and feeling good, going out clubbing wearing a sleek dress, pursuing hobbies like trekking, doing it for your family. Whatever be your reasons for losing weight, having a laser-like intensity towards your weight loss goal will make it easier for you to achieve it in the end.
Remember developing a psychology towards weight loss will help you to achieve your goals and realise success. Always aim high and push yourself to be the kind of person that you desire to be and live a high quality life – one in which your lifestyle is not hampered by obesity or poor mobility and health. We have given the power to dream because we have within us the power to achieve those dreams! The time to start is – RIGHT NOW!
Call on +91 98206 07875 for a consultation.