Articles on eating

Do You Suffer From a Eating Disorder?

Dr. Darpan Kaur, Psychiatrist
Are you hungry all the time? Then this article is just for you. We all know that food plays an important part in our life. It provides us energy and nutrients and plays a very vital role in physiological functioning of our bodies. Eating also makes us happy, as we bond over meals at home, workplace, luncheons, dinner, coffees, etc. However, how many of us can balance the eating with “healthy” and “exercise?” Today’s fast paced workaholic life has given birth to a problematic relation between “healthy eating and regular exercises.” Only when we see the scales tipping towards weight gain do we realise the problem. Many people eat more due to psychological stress. They become emotional eaters, eating  excessively to fight away the stress they face, the painful emotions they experience and the anxiety they feel without even being aware of it fully! Many willfully starve, frequently by depriving themselves of basic energy and nutrients for that elusive figure. Eating disorders are not gender biased. Be it youngsters, adolescents influenced under the buzz word “healthy,” or peer pressure, there are many who have eating disorders mainly because they are highly influenced by the recent fads and psychological development, family history,  stress, psychiatric and medical co-morbidity. The major symptom of an eating disorder is unusual consumption of excessive food in short periods of time. Others include not being able to exercise control, eating even when full, eating to cope with negative feelings of loneliness, sadness, unpleasant emotions, eating lots of junk food frequently,  skipping meals frequently, hiding food and throwing food secretly provided by caregivers, refusing to eat food, vomiting immediately after eating, eating impulsively and randomly without healthy routines, exercising way excessively beyond the regular fitness regimens in compensation to cope with guilty eating spells, going to the gym or workouts session erratically after  frequent spells of  consumption of very high caloric food, perceiving one's self to be fat despite being objectively thin and underweight, not able to stop disordered eating patterns despite developing medical complications related to the eating disorder,  feeling sad and distressed because of eating problems. Not all are eating disorders! All individuals who are obese or underweight have an eating disorder. Medical conditions, hormonal problems, genetic overlay, etc. can contribute in making a person fat or thin! No need to feel ashamed over your weight and body image! Be confident the way you are whether thin or fat! However, for medical reasons it may be necessary to prioritize one's excessive weight gain or weight loss! The most common types are: Anorexia NervosaBulimia NervosaBinge eating Disorder Anorexia nervosa individuals can have a morbid fear of becoming fat and may restrict intake of food excessively or use measures such as vomiting, laxatives to lose weight and a body image distortion of being very fat despite objectively being thin. Bulimia nervosa can have symptoms such as eating excessively, emotional eating, feeling guilty about the eating pattern, compensatory excessive exercising to lose excess intake. Binge eating is characterized by eating excessive amounts of food in relatively short periods of time very frequently. There are standard diagnostic criteria in psychiatry classification such as DSM- 5 and ICD-10 which enable psychiatrists to clinically interview the patients and diagnose the conditions based on symptoms. What can "eating disorders" do to you? Untreated eating disorders can have implications on physical health leading to complications such as loss of menses, osteoporosis and fractures, GIT disturbances, electrolyte disturbances, dental problems, cardiac problems, etc. Eating disorders can also have co-morbid psychiatric disorders such as depression, OCD, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, personality issues, etc. If you think you or your near and dear ones have some symptoms of an eating disorder, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist at the earliest. The psychiatrist will clinically evaluate you, try to understand your pattern of eating disorder, rule out co-morbid depression, stress or anxiety related disorder, counsel you and provide you cognitive behavior therapy for the eating disorder. The psychiatrist may also suggest some psychological assessments if perceived necessary to understand the problems with your eating. The psychiatrist may also suggest some medications for your pattern of eating disorder based on clinical expertise. The psychiatrist may suggest some investigations and references to other specialties such as medicine, pediatrics, endocrinology, neurology, surgery, gynecology, etc. based on the symptoms and complications faced by the patient. Outpatient or in-patient based treatment setting for eating disorders depend on the diagnosed condition, severity of the condition, co-morbid medical problems, school of training, guidelines, etc. Multidisciplinary approaches consisting of psychiatry, clinical psychology, nutritionist counselling, etc. may be helpful in holistic management of eating disorders in collaboration with concerned specialties.

Eating Disorders- a Serious Condition

Dr. Mehak Nagpal, Psychiatrist
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating are serious mental illnesses, they are not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone “too far”.  They are associated with significant physical complications & increased mortality. Eating disorder not only involves mental illnesses but also wide ranging & serious complications which affect every major organ in the body. Many people with Eating disorder also present with depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorder or substance abuse problems. A person with Eating disorder may go to great lengths to hide, disguise or deny behaviour or not recognise there is anything wrong. Evidence shows the sooner you start treatment for eating, the shorter the recovery process. Eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating behaviour include extreme emotion, attitudes and behaviours surrounding weight& food issues such as:Anorexia Nervosa: Inadequate food intake leading to a weight thatis clearly too low; Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight & persistent behaviour. Self esteem overly related to body.Binge Eating: Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food and to prevent weight gain, self induced vomiting. A feeling of being out of control during Binge eating episodes. Feeling strong shame or guilt regarding eating.Bulimia:  It is characterized by binge eating large quantities of food followed by self induced purging, vomiting, severe excercise, use of diuretics and enemas etc to try and compensate for the excessive intake.

10 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many people tend to eat according to the state of their emotions. For example, if they are happy they will eat their favourite pizzas or burgers and if they are sad they will eat ice-cream or chocolate to lift their mood. Eating triggered by emotion and not hunger is often called emotional eating that can result in weight gain or inability to lose weight. Here, we are going to discuss ways in which you can avoid emotional eating.1. Scale your hungerCreate a hunger scale for yourself to measure when you feel maximum hunger and when you feel the least. Whenever you eat anything mark the reason behind your eating and rate it on a scale of 1-10. The reason can be actual hunger, happiness, depression or just boredom. To start, always eat when you get a minimum of 5 points or say, 7. This will help in avoiding unnecessary emotional eating.2. Focus on your foodMany people have a habit of reading the newspaper with their breakfast or watching TV while having their meal but these habits can easily lead to overeating. Researchers at the University of Liverpool in England found that people who swipe at their cell phones or stare at the TV while eating gobble down up to 50 percent more food than those who are actively engaged with their meals. Therefore, always eat without any distraction as it will help you in getting more satiety.3. Eat Healthy and balanced mealA balanced meal with the right ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat provides you better satisfaction and protects you from emotional cravings for food. Opting for healthier food such as fresh fruits will not only satisfy you but the nutrition in it will even provide a steady source of energy that will get you through the day feeling focused and balanced. Healthy foods help manage your emotions better.4. Wait before you eatIf you are not sure about what makes you eat, then make it a habit of waiting for 10 minutes before you eat. In these 10 minutes go and do some household chore or pending office work. If even after 10 minutes you want to eat, then you should go ahead and eat. Do the same before you get yourself a second serving. Research shows that it typically takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate a sense of fullness to the brain, so you may be refilling your plate despite being full.5. Keep a mood and food diaryKeeping a track of your mood and food may help you in realizing your emotional eating habits. By knowing your trigger towards emotional eating it is much easier to eliminate or replace it with some healthier options.6. Stock healthy food in your houseWhen junk food is not within your sight you will not think about it. Therefore, eliminate all the cookies, cakes, chips, ice cream, etc from your kitchen and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetable in your house. So, the next time you feel hungry and want to eat something you will automatically eat something healthy.7. Control your eating portionsIf you cannot control yourself while eating emotionally, then try to control your portions while eating. For example instead of going for a bigger bag of chips, choose a small bag. Or do not eat straight from the bag. Serve only a small portion of the chips out in a bowl and leave the rest. This might help you in avoiding the next portion. You certainly need to exercise some self control too.8. Avoid Social InfluencePeople tend to eat more when they are out for social activities like parties, office get togethers, weddings, etc. Endless serving of tasty snacks with added distraction of social banter leads to mindless eating. People don’t pay attention to what they are eating & lose track of how much they have eaten, resulting in overeating.9. Find an Alternative“Dog is a man’s best friend” is a common saying to encourage people to have a pet dog. A study from the journal Hormones and Behaviour found that interacting with your four-legged friend releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that helps boost mood. In addition, when you run with your pet you burn extra calories and a daily routine of running for a minimum of 30 minutes can help you in managing your weight. But if you don’t have a pet find another alternative such as speaking to a friend, sibling or someone who makes you feel better when you feel emotionally low.10. Follow a healthy lifestyleA person who is physically strong, relaxed and well rested has a better ability to balance the emotional see-saw in life. Make daily exercise a priority in your life. Physical activity helps balance mood, improve energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. Get at least 7- 8 hours of sleep every night. When you don’t get the sleep you need, you are more prone to mood swings that can trigger mindless eating.

Eating Disorder: Things You Should Know!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A harmless remark by an educated parent on the physical attribute of their growing teenage girls resulted in a shocking “anorexia pact” by the duo at the age of 11. Now at the age of 33 and being doctors they don’t lead a normal life. Eating disorders might start at a very early , if not identified and treated can stay with you for life.Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorder that is associated with abnormally low weight achieved by extreme dieting, fasting and followed by compulsive exercising.  Mostly young girls are afflicted from this disorder especially in the absence of early parental care and support to inculcate healthy eating habits. Eating disorders have been around forever but finally society is accepting the seriousness of this ailment  and encouraging parents, friends to come together and support the person suffering from it.  There is a higher success rate of controlling and reversing it through family and social support .Eating disorders mostly start from home and parents play an extremely critical role in stimulating and curbing them.  Children very closely watch and imitate their parents. If the parents fuss too much about their looks and being thin the kids will imitate them. Similarly if the parents eat a lot of unhealthy food the kids would be inclined towards junk food even when they grow up. Therefore it is mostly parent’s responsibility to inculcate healthy eating habits amongst children.Eating disorder can have serious repercussions on health like weakness, fatigue,  anaemia, heart & kidney problems, osteoporosis, infertility, disruption of sugar levels  and even death. Nature and nurture is equally responsible for this condition. Therefore it is imperative to apply a three pronged approach to dealing with it.First restore the healthy weight of an individual, second to treat the psychological factors that may have caused this situation and lastly ensure there is total support and care to prevent relapse.Healthy Food does not make you fat. Its unhealthy eating patterns like eating too much processed food that only has empty calories and not nutrition. Also controlling the portions even at an early stage is important. This does not mean dieting it means regulating a healthy meal pattern in children where importance is give to a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. If a healthy food routine is followed the kids will tend to eat less junk as they will be fuller for longer resulting in optimum growth, overall health and better immunity.Also teens suffering from eating disorders tend to be very sensitive and emotional. Its important as a parents need to be more tuned to their emotion needs, provide them that extra affection and care.

How to Stop Binge Eating?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
We all have been guilty of binge eating at some point. Sometimes it’s the access to food that triggers this behaviour like office parties, etc, while at other times its emotions like stress, anger and depression that make us binge.What does a binge incident look like: An incessant urge to rapidly consume excessive amount of food.  Most people are not even aware of such behaviour, while many complain that it is beyond their control.In order to stop the unhealthy pattern of binge eating, it is important to bring change through healthy eating practices. Healthy eating involves making balanced meal plans, choosing healthy foods when eating out, and making sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet.There are certain ways by which one can stop binge eating.- Manage stress. One of the most important methods to stop binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings. These may include exercising, meditating and practising simple breathing exercises.- Eat 3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between.  Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism in the morning. Follow breakfast with a balanced lunch and dinner, and healthy snacks in between. Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day. This is also another way to stop binge eating.- Avoid temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. The only way to stop binge eating is by clearing out your fridge and cupboards of your favourite binge foods.- Stop dieting. The deprivation and hunger of strict dieting can trigger food cravings and the urge to overeat. Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you are content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning certain foods as this can make you crave them even more.- Exercise. Not only will exercise help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it also lifts you out of depression, improves overall health, and reduces stress. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to binge eating as well as emotional eating.- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you're bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.- Get enough sleep. If you're tired, you may want to keep eating in order to boost your energy. Take a nap or go to bed earlier.- Listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.- Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, and how you're feeling when you eat. This is one of the most effective ways to stop binge eating.

Reasons for Emotional Eating and Ways to Avoid Them

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Human beings are emotional and tend to consume food based on their feelings. If they are happy they will eat their favorite pizzas or burgers or if they are sad they will eat ice-cream or chocolate to lift their mood. Eating triggered by emotion and not hunger is often called emotional eating that can result in weight gain or inability to lose weight.To stop the emotional eating it is important to know the cause triggering it. Common causes for emotional eating include -Stress: Our lives have become demanding & stressful. Too many things to accomplish in short period of time leads to high stress levels. Chronic stress leads to high level of cortisol, hormone released in body in response of stress. This hormone triggers psychological cravings for salty, sweet and high fat content food that gives you instant energy and pleasure. More stress you take more prone you are for emotional eating. Being preoccupied during meal times can also promote eating mindlessly. To stop emotional eating it is important to manage your stress level.Emotional: Sometimes people eat just to fill the void in their life due to boredom. For example eating a big packet of chips while watching a movie all alone. Eating just because you have nothing better to do is one of the leading causes of consuming more calories than you actually require that can lead to weight gain.Socially influences: People tend to eat more when they are out on social activities like parties, office get together, weddings etc. Endless serving of tasty snacks with added distraction of social banter leads to mindless eating. People don’t pay attention to what they are eating & lose track of how much they have eaten all resulting in overeating.It is important to stop emotional eating as eating unhealthy food may lead you to weight gain and can makes you more prone to the lifestyle diseases. Following are some easy rules to stop you from emotional eating:Keep a mood and food diary: keeping a track of your mood and food it may help you in realizing your emotional eating habits. By knowing your trigger towards emotional eating it is much easy to eliminate it or replace it with some healthier options.Comfort foods versus healthy foods: Emotion triggers craving for high carbohydrate foods. Eating them might make you feel better in a short term but will not help you get better control of your emotions. In fact opting for a healthier food like a fresh fruit will not only satisfy you but the specific nutrients will provide a steady source of energy that will get you through the day feeling focused, and balanced. Healthy foods help manage your emotions better and not suppress them.Go for alternative methods: Food is not always the answer to your emotions. Instead try speaking to your friend, sibling or someone who makes you feel better when you feel emotionally low. You can even try a walk or a light jog in the park. Exercise naturally triggers happy hormones in the body, while helping you think clearer. If you are felling anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.If you are feeling exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket. If you are feeling bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy.Follow a healthy lifestyle: A person who is physically strong, relaxed and well rested has better ability to balance the emotional see-saw in life. Make daily exercise a priority in your life. Physical activity helps balance mood, improve energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. Get at least 7- 8 hours of sleep every night. When you don’t get the sleep you need, you are more prone to mood swings that can trigger eating mindlessly.Leading a healthy lifestyle in general can help you get more control of your emotions. Eating a balanced diet & exercising at least thrice a week can help you be less stressed & more in control of your life.

Don't Rush, Eating Slow Helps to Reduce Weight!

Ms. Mitalee Doshi, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many people eat their food fast and carelessly. However, eating slowly may be a much smarter approach.Eating Too Fast Can Cause Weight Gain:People who describe themselves as fast eaters tend to be heavier than those who say they eat more slowly. In fact, fast eaters are up to 115% more likely to be obese, compared to slower eatersEating Slowly Helps You Eat Less:Your appetite and calorie intake is largely controlled by hormones.Normally after eating, your gut suppresses a hormone called ghrelin, which controls hunger. It also releases the anti-hunger hormones cholecystokinin (CCK), peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). These hormones relay a message to the brain, letting it know that you’ve eaten and that nutrients are being absorbed. This reduces appetite, makes you feel full, and helps you stop eating.Interestingly, this process takes about 20 minutes, so slowing down gives your brain the time it needs to receive these signals. Eating Slowly Can Increase Satiety Hormones. Eating too quickly often leads to overeating, as your brain doesn’t have the time it needs to receive the fullness signals.Additionally, eating slowly has been shown to decrease the amount of food consumed at a meal. This is partially due to an increase in the level of anti-hunger hormones that occurs when meals aren’t rushed.Eating Slowly Promotes Thorough Chewing:In order to eat slowly, you actually need to chew your food several times before swallowing it. This can help you reduce calorie intake and lose weight. In fact, several studies have found that people with weight problems tend to chew their food less than normal-weight people doOther Benefits of Eating Slowly:Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly can improve fullness and help you lose weight. However, slowing down can also improve your health and quality of life in other ways:Improve digestion.Increase your enjoyment of food.Help you absorb nutrients better.Promote healthy teeth.Make you feel calmer and more in control.Reduce stress.How to Slow Down and Lose Weight:Here’s some advice to help you get started with eating more slowly:Chew more: Count how many times you normally chew a bite of food, and then double that amount. You may be surprised at how little you usually chew.Avoid extreme hunger: It’s hard eat slowly when you’re really hungry. To prevent extreme hunger, keep some healthy snacks on hand.Set utensils down: Putting down your fork between bites of food will help you eat more slowly and savor each bite.Eat foods that need chewing: Include fibrous foods that require a lot of chewing, such as vegetables, fruits and nuts. Fiber can also promote weight loss.Use a timer: Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes, and do your best not to finish before the buzzer goes off. Aim for a slow, consistent pace throughout the meal.Turn off distractions: Try to avoid electronic screens while eating. If you must watch TV, choose a 20–30 minute show and make your meal last the whole time.Take deep breaths: If you begin to eat too quickly, take some deep breaths. This will help you refocus and get back on track.Practice mindful eating: Mindful eating techniques can help you pay more attention to what you’re eating and gain control of your cravings.Be patient: Change takes time, and it actually takes about 66 days for a new behavior to become a habit. Eventually, eating slowly will happen naturally.Slow Down and Enjoy Your FoodEating too quickly can lead to weight gain and decreased enjoyment of food.However, slowing down can increase fullness and promote weight loss. It also provides several other health benefits, and can improve your quality of life.So when it comes to meals, take it slow and enjoy every bite.

Starving vs Eating Healthy

Ms. Silky Mahajan, Dietitian/Nutritionist
You study one night before the exam but you manage an all nighter, thus you manage to pass. You study for a week for your SAT exams but you manage a score little over 1800. You sit down for a few hours and you manage to finish the work your boss asked for a week ago. You push yourself and get the desired results. These results keep you happy, get the work done (in a long term successful manner) and turn out to be fast as well as effective! But, can you say the same in relation to starving to lose weight? Yes it’s fast, but is it effective? Yes you might look thin, but internally are you happy when you’re hungry? Yes it’s got the job done but will it be a long term success? The answer is NO. Starving yourself to lose weight isn’t the solution. WHY, you ask? Well here’s a piece of my mind.Metaaabolismmmm vs METABOLISM:Well the first ones an example of how slow your metabolic rate will be when you starve! Since glucose and insulin play a major role in your metabolism levels, insufficient consumption of food will lead to a fall in their levels, eventually causing a decline in your metabolic rate. Then comes the second kind, that fast paced metabolism – that’s because regular meals keep your digestive system running which in turn paces up your metabolic rates.No water vs no water weight:When you decide to starve yourself, you say no to almost any item going into your mouth. You cant live on a peanut for lunch and one fruit for dinner! Instead you need to trim the excess weight by getting rid of the water weight by cutting your carbs! For every gram of carb that you consume, your body retains 4 grams of water. No carbs, no retention. .no water weight? That’s right! Say no to carbs, yes to healthy food and bye bye to water weight.Malnutrition vs nutrition:After a few months of starvation, there is a major cut in your staple food which leads to insufficient nutrients, vitamin and minerals. Without all the essentials for a “balanced diet” your body cannot function properly which could lead to serious illnesses and problems. On the other hand, if you eat right your body improves its immunity and keeps even the smallest cough away.To sleep or not to sleep:Those who starve themselves tend to get hungry (well, duh) during the odd hours of the night. This either keeps them up late at night or keeps waking them up every few hours. OR, even worse – you binge eat at like 3 am.. carbs, fat and dessert! Whereas those who eat a well balanced healthy meal end up getting a good night’s rest since their body isn’t short of food aka energy deprived!Lethargic lump vs energizer bunny:After you skip some meals, your body is really low on energy so it uses stored fat as a replacement ie muscles. You’ll notice your muscles slowly start to fade away to compensate for the lack of energy in your body. Eventually you won’t have the energy to do anything, not even eat (not as good as it sounds!). Actually no energy and no muscle might just make you fat and lazy. If you decide to get off your lazy lump and cook breakfast, you will actually help kick start your body into fat burning mode! Also you’ll have the energy to exercise – which definitely provides better results than starving.

The Importance of Eating Right as You Age!

Dr. Priyam Sharma, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The pounds are creeping in and rigid diets aren't working. As weight loss becomes difficult, some foods also leave you feeling gassy, bloated and lethargic. It's time to set things with nutritious, high-energy foods that not only trigger weight loss but leave you feeling refreshed and energised. Follow this food timetable and you are good to go!The early morning energizer Recharge your body metabolism with a glass of water right after you wake up. For complete detoxification, add a spoonful of honey and lime in the water. You could also try some green tea or herbal tea which is high in antioxidants. Drinking fluids in the morning will hydrate your body, prevent fatigue and keep you going strong for the rest of the day. The breakfast kick-start Eating small and frequent meals ensures a steady supply of calories without causing sugar spikes and weight gain. For breakfast, a combination of protein and high fiber works wonders. Protein gives satiety and prevents that formidable early morning energy crash. Try poached or boiled eggs along with whole grain toast or oats as good breakfast options.       The mid-morning break Around mid-morning, snack on some fruits or nuts. Nuts are a rich source of magnesium which gives you energy. Fruits have natural sugars that leave you feeling peppy and alert for a longer time. Stay away from coffee, tea, or fatty foods which can cause an energy slump and a sluggish metabolism.      The low calorie, light lunchKeep your lunch light. Stick to a fish sandwich, a wholesome soup, or whole grain pasta along with an apple. You will remain active the rest of the day and feel alerted.   The post-sunset meals An evening snack of yoghurt milk/fruit juice or trail mix improves your intake of fatty acids. Post sunset, stick to steamed veggies and a side dish of fish.        So who said you're old? Get your food timetable in place today and watch your body lighten up to a younger you! 

How to Eat Healthy While Fasting

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
India is a land of tradition and various religious practices. Fasting is an integral part of our tradition. Fasting means holding one back voluntarily from eating certain or even any kind of food for a definite period of time. It can range from practicing a fast for a day, a week or for an entire month. Fasting for too long or not having the right food can have an adverse effect on health. It’s important to know how to eat healthy even while fasting to get the most out of it.Tips For Healthy Fasting -Drink plenty of water during your fast to help your body stay hydrated and energized. If the fast demands elimination of foods and drinks completely, then have water in pre and post fast meals. Avoiding water intake for long hours can lead to dehydration.Try to always have a pre-fast meal. It helps the body to sustain itself throughout the day without nourishment. It helps in giving strength and energy to the body. This does not mean that one should stuff one’s stomach with heavy foods before the fast. Choose light and healthy food items such as fruits, milk, nuts etc.Avoid strenuous workouts during fasting. A brisk walk can be included but heavy workouts; long hours of running or swimming should be avoided. As the body is not getting usual portions of food while fasting as compared to normal days, activity patterns should also be reduced to avoid excessive weakness and fatigue.Optimize your nutrition during fasting. Which means if you’re eating less, the nutritional quality of what you eat becomes that much important for the body. Do not include fried, high on sugar items like fried parathas loaded with ghee, pakoras, chips, khoya sweets, halwas etc. Instead go for non-fried stuffed rotis, baked and less oily vegetable preparations, fruits and light home-made milk preparations. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as colas, excessive coffee or tea as they act as diuretics and stimulate faster water loss through frequent urination.Eat healthy when breaking the fast. Always start with a glass of water and some fruit. This won’t cause a sudden spike in the sugar levels post long hours of fasting and will have a revitalizing effect. Main meals should be wholesome and light. These should contain whole grains and less oily preparations. One should not gulp food post fast. Chew your meal properly in order to avoid over eating, gas, nausea and acidity.Pregnant and lactating women, diabetics and people with chronic medical conditions should avoid practicing long hours of fasting as this can be harmful to their health and can lead to fatal consequences.