Articles on healthy food

Healthy Food Shopping on a Budget

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Food prices are increasing everyday. Unfortunately, incomes don’t always keep up with it! This should not stop you from eating healthy. Here, we have some great tips for you on how you can eat healthier, and stay within your budget!Avoid Junk FoodTry to maintain a budget diary and note every time you spend money on food. Evaluate how much you spend on soda, cookies, packaged food, eat out lunch and dinner, etc and try to avoid them. It will keep you and your pocket healthy. This will also help you in spending more money on high quality food.Go SeasonalSeasonal fruits, seasonal vegetables that are locally grown, best match the nutrition requirements of people living in the area. The other advantage is that seasonal foods cost less to grow, so you pay the right price for them.  For example; in summers you should go for watermelon, mangoes, plum, berries, etc and in winters you can opt for oranges, peas, apples, turnip, spinach, fenugreek leaves, etc. However, all season fruit and vegetables like papaya, banana, etc can also help you. So, the more you focus on purchasing seasonal food, the healthier and tastier your meals will be and the more money you will save.Go Shopping with Grocery ListEvery time, before going to shopping make a list of everything you are going to purchase and focus on healthy and nutritious food and try to remain stick on it. By this you can avoid purchasing unnecessary foods and can manage your budget.Fresh foods over PackagedPackaged foods may contain high amount of sugar and sodium to act as preservative, but are also expensive. For example, instead of buying packaged orange fruit juices, try to buy whole orange fruit. Always buy fresh over canned or packaged foods. This not only save your money but also give you more nutrition.Be experimentalInstead of spending money on expensive unhealthy desserts, try making healthy desserts at home. For example; you can try homemade oatmeal cookies with less sugar, a piece of dark chocolate, or yogurt with fresh seasonal fruits.Be colorfulNatural colors in food correspond to a variety of nutrition. So, shop for fruits and vegetables of all kinds of colors. For example, use red and yellow pepper in green leafy vegetables or yellow corns and carrot in black beans and lentils. Besides providing you with great nutrition, they also make the food look delicious!Buy in bulk but Cook in PortionsIt sound strange but it is true to keep a healthy eating on a budget you should buy vegetable to grains to meat in a bulk, and store it well. This not only helps you in budget maintenance but also cut down your shopping time, thus, leaving you more time for everything else.If you stick with these healthy eating and food shopping tips, you’ll be healthier and save more money!

Is Raw Food Diet Healthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
People are constantly experimenting with food to lose weight. Some eat maple syrup all day while some eat raw or uncooked foods to get that size zero. Most fad diets are unhealthy. But sometimes even the more healthy seeming diets like the raw food diet may not be totally healthy. Let us tell you why eating raw food can or cannot be all that good for you.Raw diet consists mainly of uncooked, unprocessed plant foods. Raw food is low in calorie and usually sourced naturally. Eating a raw diet full of fruits and vegetables has its advantages of getting plenty of vitamins and minerals but there are a lot of missing nutrients in this diet that can lead to severe deficiencies.Vitamin B12 is the most common deficiency found in people that eat this diet. This nutrient is naturally available in animal sources and is critical to nerve and red blood cell development. Deficiencies can lead to anemia and neurological impairment.This diet doesn't have enough protein. According to ICMR minimum of 20-25% of adults daily calories should come from protein. Protein is a major component of all cells, including muscle and bone. It is needed for growth, development and immunity to fight off infections and protect the body.This diet might help you lose weight because how much raw food can you actually eat. Besides unhealthy weight loss it also makes your immune system vulnerable putting you at higher risk of falling sick or catching infection. Raw food diet lacks lycopene, usually found in cooked tomatoes, which are responsible for plasma lycopene levels, which are thought to play a role in disease prevention.Overcooking and heating is known to destroy nutrition in food. But did you know that cooking vegetables and beans actually enhances digestibility and absorption of many beneficial and nutritious compounds in the body? Cooking also helps destroy some of the harmful enzymes that interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body.Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs much more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds (carotenoids and phytochemicals - especially lutein and lycopene) from cooked vegetables compared with raw. Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix (connective bands) to which the valuable compounds is bound.Eating raw food is good for health and is an important feature of a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be raw to be in excellent health or lose weight. There are healthier ways to lose weight like eating a balanced diet and exercising. Our body requires all nutrients for optimum health.

Healthy Diet for Teenagers

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
These days, due to peer pressure and the influence of glamour world, teenagers aspire to be in a skinny frame and in order to achieve that instantly, teenagers go with practices like surviving on carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, smoking and eating meager food.“Trying to stay thin can take you away from eating a wholesome diet, and lead to bad skin, dull looking hair and unhealthy nails”.Helpful Hints to Plan a Diet for Teenagers:Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Never forget that.This should be the main meal while planning diet for teenagers. Breakfast kick starts your body after eight hours of sleep when energy was being slowly used up. This is the longest time your body will have gone without eating, so you need to fill up the supply of energy to get you through the day. About one quarter of your body needs is found in breakfast, and that’s a substantial amount to skip out on. It has been scientifically proven that your concentration levels are much lower if you don’t eat breakfast, and it may also lead to you snacking on unhealthy food throughout the day - so leading to you becoming overweight.Fitness and Exercise RegimesThese may be fast disappearing in a teenager’s life due to the lack of physical activity opportunities in schools, as well as the type of exercise on offer not always being appropriate or enjoyed by teenagers. What to do then? Walk everywhere, ride your bike, go running with a friend in a park nearby, go to the local sports, go swimming, there are local pools in most areas, start up a team yourself with local friends i.e. football or basketball, or even a running group.Healthy optimum foods which should appear in diet for teenagers:• Fresh fruit and vegetables (between five and ten per day)• Whole meal bread – Not white bread as it contains very few nutrients• Salads to include; lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, radish, beetroot, onion, nuts• Nuts unless of course you are allergic• Dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, dried berries• Fish – salmon, sardines, mackerel• Rice• Whole-wheat pasta• Six to eight glasses of waterUnhealthy foods which should not appear in diet for teenagers:• Any fast food – bought at a fast food outlet• Fizzy drinks of any kind – bought from shops or machines• Crisps and savory snacks in packets• Processed foods such as microwave dinners• Sweets, chocolate, ice-cream• Cakes and biscuitsRight now you may be thinking that you can’t live without a packet of crisps on the way home from school or that favorite fizzy drink, but unfortunately it really is up to YOU to decide! Only you can make those changes to your diet and your energy levels. If you are serious about being healthy, then think about your nutritional intakes and your fitness levels every day. Try not to be ‘faddy’ about being healthy, just do your best, be gradual and eventually it will become second nature!

Healthy Foods That Are Actually Junk Foods!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
With a busy lifestyle, everyone wants quick, tasty, reasonably priced and easily available foods. Though you may think that they might be healthy options but they are completely opposite. Here are some foods mentioned which many of us might consider healthy but actually are unhealthy foods.1. Instant noodles Maggi/ noodles hardly take any time to cook and taste good but all you are adding to your body is refined flour. The wax present in them forms a layer in our intestine which takes at least three days to flush out from our system. You can swap this with a vegetable upma or poha. It will provide you with good carbs and the veggies will add fibre making it a complete meal.2. Cornflakes with milk Many of us think this is a safe breakfast option as it contains milk but the truth is that the flakes you eat only add more sugar to your diet and not much nutrition. It will only add more weight to your body. Instead of this, you can switch to daliya or muesli with skimmed milk and a handful of nuts sprinkled on the top. This will give you fibre with essential fatty acids and other essential nutrients.3. Fruit Juice/ Packaged Juice You may think that gulping down a glass of a preserved fruit juice is a great way to start your day, but they are mostly packed with sugar. Switch to a better idea have orange itself rather than juice. Whole fruit offers you all the vitamins and minerals, along with tummy-filling fibre that can help tame hunger pangs until lunch. Or you can also replace orange juice with 1 glass of low-fat milk or skimmed milk.4. Pasta/White Pasta Pasta/white bread is an empty calorie food as it is made from refined and processed flour. This means that it is deficient in nutrients. Instead of white pasta/white bread you can opt for whole wheat pasta, whole wheat rolls (stuffed with veggies or paneer), and multi-grain bread.5. Diet Soda Diet sodas are actually empty calorie as they contain only artificial sweeteners and no essential nutrients in it, which increases the risk of certain types of cancer. Instead of energising yourself with diet colas, you can switch yourself to lemon water or coconut water.6. Fat-free Foods Just because a product is labeled ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat’ doesn't mean it’s healthier or even lower in calories. Fat-free products lack fat, but they make up by adding sugars or other unhealthy ingredients. Some of the most popular low fat foods are baked potato chips, diet namkeen, frozen yoghurt, nutralite butter, etc.In fact, when people are given foods marked as low fat, they chow down 25 to 44 percent more calories than when foods are labeled as regular fat.From the nutritional standpoint the above mentioned foods are not considered as healthy due to nutrient deficient. Practical piece of advice eat healthy, manage portion control, stick to natural foods and exercise. This the only way you can lose weight and keep it off.

Foods for a Healthy Heart

Ms. Nisha Singh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Today the world over we are celebrating the "World Heart Day". Indians are fast reaching a point where we are going to be at the number one spot for having most heart disease patients. It's the number one killer for us Indians.So, what are we doing to take care of this most precious organ in our body which works tirelessly for us? The organ which keeps us alive, literally!!Here are a few steps and foods to having a healthy heart.Oats: An excellent source of good fiber, oats contain the kind of fiber that helps to bind the cholesterol in the body and throw it out of the system. Have one bowl of this goodness daily either in the form of savory oats upma or chilla or as a porridge. Wheat Bran: Easily available in the market, wheat bran when added to either your roti flour or used to thicken soups, helps to lower cholesterol and also to lose weight.Almonds: Having 6 to 8 almonds daily helps to improve the good cholesterol in your body. It has the good omega fatty acids and is also a good source of protein and calcium. Even though they are good for the heart, be careful how much you eat because they are calorie dense.Fish: Make sure that you have fish 3 times a week to get the good fatty acids which will help to keep your cholesterol numbers in check.Flax seeds: A spoonful of flax seed powder sprinkled over your salad, mixed in your curd or buttermilk or added to the chutney will help in getting your need for not only fiber but also good fatty acids. Apart from adding these foods listed above in your diet regularly, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water - 8 to 10 glasses daily if you do moderate activity, have 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily and be physical activity - chose any exercise or workout activity you like - Zumba, aerobics, pilates, brisk walk, swimming - whatever you enjoy and make it a regular affair.So, be good to your heart and take care of it!

Is It Possible to Eat Healthy Food at Nearby Fast Food Joint?

Dr. Rahul Varma, Pediatrician
With changing culture and family dynamics in India, there is more and more nuclear family with both parents working. Life has become busy; so many parents opt to eat out at a food joint rather than preparing a healthy meal at home. And with media exposure and cultural change, children are also demanding. Due to this more and more children are overweight and are at increased risk of obesity and other major diseases.Eating fast food once in a while is fine, but it should not become a regular feature of your child’s staple diet. Twice a month, eating out will be just fine, not more than that.Being a parent, it is our responsibility to provide child with healthier options and lead with example. We can encourage them to go for healthier options.Few things to keep in mind while eating out that can help you and your kids are:Control the portion size: This is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Do not get carried away by temptation from food joints who offer to upgrade to larger size or combos to save money. The price difference between a medium drink and large is kept very small so that you are tempted to buy a bigger one.Encourage them to eat roasted, steamed or boiled food rather than fried. It helps to decrease the number of calories and is much healthier option.Order some salad or fruits along as a side dish. It will make you fuller at very low calories and with healthier options.Order some non aerated drinks (without soda) like water, juice or milk. Avoid aerated drinks with soda like cold drinks; they are just empty calories. But to go for healthier options like fruit juices or smoothies.Do not get lured by word “Diet”: Diet food or diet cold drinks or diet chips are not a healthy option. Diet cold drinks have artificial sweetener and other stuff inside which can even be more dangerous (most of such drinks have labels stating that not meant for less than 18 years). Diet chips still have lot of salt (high sodium content) and masala that is not good for your heart and cholesterol.Similarly “Fat free” does not mean a healthy option and you can eat large amount. They still have carbohydrates and lots of calories which can make you obese. Remember you can buy a new house to stay but you have only one body to live.If your body is not in good shape, all your materialistic wealth will be of no use.Respect your body: Eat healthy, do exercise and be mentally strong.  And have faith in your abilities, you can do lot better than you think you can.

Is Indian Food Healthy

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Most Indians believe that Indian food is among the healthiest cuisines in the world. No doubt, that it can be healthy, but is all Indian food healthy? To see what is healthy in Indian cuisine, and what is not, read on..The Good:– Indian food by its nature incorporates a lot of vegetables as ingredients for cooking. This is great, since vegetables are a rich source of nutrition.– Talking about cooking, Indian food uses a large amount of spices. And spices are just loaded with healthy goodness, like antioxidants. For example, turmeric has so many health benefits, that its almost considered a wonder drug.– Dairy products are commonly used in Indian food- be it yoghurt, milk, etc. Besides being a rich calcium source, foods like yoghurt promote probiotic bacteria in the gut, which helps manage and improve digestion, overall health, and immunity levels. The Bad:– Even though we use a lot of vegetables, and spices, very often, Indian food tends to cook veggies so much, that it leeches most of the nutritional content during the cooking process. Just heating itself can reduce some vitamins from food, along with water content. So, cooking them & processing them for a long time further reduces nutritional value– Besides cooking a lot, Indian cooking, specially cooking for celebratory functions incorporates a lot of fried food, or just food cooked in a lot of oil. Cooking in a lot of oil, besides significantly increasing the calorie value of food, it also increases the bad cholesterol content, and is bad for heart health. Did you know, that Indians have higher risk heart diseases, than Americans or Europeans.– Besides the oil and the overcooking, Indian food has culturally become very focused on the consumption of grains, wheat, rice, etc. We mean, that the total intake of food is measured by the amount of roti, paratha, or rice consumed, rather than the vegetables, lentils, etc. Most of the nutrition comes from other sources than grains, so why not focus on those.– The use of refined flour (maida) is becoming more common. Refined flour has a high glycemic index, and its consumption in any form (like white bread, samosas, etc), increases the glycemic load in your body, making your body store fat, and putting you at risk of diabetes. Indians are naturally more prone to diabetes than others.– Similar to the use of refined flour, sugar usage & consumption has significantly increased. This is more of a global trend, but because of our genetic tendency towards diabetes & that India is projected to be the diabetes capital by 2050, we really should be watching out. Use whole grain flour to increase nutritive value.Note, that these are general trends, and not all of these may apply in your case, so in case they do, please take action and let’s eat & promote healthy Indian food.If you have any points on how to make Indian food healthier, do share with us, in the comments.

The Myth - Healthy Diet?

Dr. Raviraj Francis, Physiotherapist
Indians have huge vitamin deficiency figures compared to Global standards.Various food myths are to be blamed for this.As a clinical Physiotherapist and Nutritional expert I suggest some facts that need to be addressed: 1) Indians are more stressed and give less importance to physical exercise compared to their global counterparts.2) Eating at proper times should be strictly adhered to (5 small meals if on a diet or 3 proper healthy meals).3) Eating healthy should be the mantra, for eg: filling yourself with snacks like samosa, vada, shev, chakli instead of proper wholesome food.4) The myth that non-veg food gives you more strength or veg food will never give you heart disease is all a propaganda by various people. Speaking scientifically vegetarian people can have more strength than a person who consumes meat, also a vegetarian may die of cardiac diseases as compared to a person who consumes red meat daily.5) However certain facts have to be taken into consideration like B12 (nerve function) is found in meat and Iron is found in high quantity in green leafy vegetables. However, if your religion or culture doesn't permit meat then there are supplements which are available in the market.6) Just remember no amount of supplement or fancy food will give you the amount of vital vitamins which a wholesome food gives you.7) Last but not the least 'eat smart' - a boiled potato will give you the same nutrients minus the cholesterol that comes from a fried potato. Bon appetit!

Healthy Food for Kids | Healthy Food for Children

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Kids need a filling and nutritious diet for growth and unhealthy foods will slow down their growth if the daily nutrition is not met accordingly. From carbohydrates for energy to go non-stop through out the day, the amino acids from protein to build muscle and recover them, vitamins and minerals for healthy functioning of organs and chemical reactions in the body and fat for good cholesterol and cushioning of organs.Though kids like foods that are surprising and delightful to their taste buds. Get creative with your recipes and start making your food nutritious and attractive. Here are foods for kids to keep them healthy. Give your child plenty of options ranging from chocolates to everything that they like.Cornflakes with milk and fruits: We all feed our kids with cornflakes but make it more healthy with adding fruits to it. Include the fruit that your kids like eating. Strawberry, grapes, nuts, seeds, apples, bananas etc. This meal will provide your kid with carbs, protein and essential vitamins and minerals along with iron to improve metabolismEggs: Eggs provide a lot of satiety and protein, vitamins and minerals. Make it healthier by adding a slice of cheese or add a few slices of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber etc. The meal will keep the kids feel fuller and have lots of nutrition for a good growthSandwiches: What about adding a slice of lean meat for non-vegetarians and cottage cheese for veggies ? Play around with your stuffing options with boiled mashed potatoes, cheese slice, tuna or vegetables. Choose whole grain bread or multi flour bread to make it more healthyDrinks: Say no to aerated drinks including the cola's and sweetened sodas as they would add empty calories which is not healthy for a child's growth. Provide other varieties from fresh fruit juice, lemonade, buttermilk, banana milk shake, mango shake and other shakes with fruits, nuts and seedsWalnuts: For healthy functioning of mind omega fatty acids are equally important. Walnuts, flaxseed and fish products like salmon, tuna etc are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids which are important for development of child's brainYou can pick lot more healthy options for your child. Keep foods providing empty calories and junk that add no nutrition away from their diets. Use less oil in the food and avoid fried foods. Follow these basics and keep your kids healthy.

How to Enjoy Healthy Food

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Eating is not merely putting food into one’s mouth. It’s consuming warm, juicy, thinnest or thickest, fat or lean morsels of properly cooked meal, chewing, enjoying the aroma, texture and flavor of the food.Performing rituals and symbolic gestures like blowing candles and singing happy birthday song before cutting a cake or popping the cork off a wine bottle may enhance the food’s flavor, according to a study done by scientists from the University of Minnesota.Researchers found that when the test subjects followed a particular ritual before eating a bar of chocolate, they found the taste to be much better than the test subjects who did not follow the ritual. The ritual in the study was to break the chocolate bar into 2 parts, unwrap them one by one and then eat. So what made the taste better?According to experts as one performs the ritual before eating a food item, the involvement in what one is eating increases, which enhances the interest and hence the enjoyment quotient. Another experiment showed that elongating the time between performing the ritual and eating the food magnified the effects. Participants in this case were anticipating eating carrots of all things, and they said they tasted better after waiting.However, watching someone else perform a ritual, like stirring lemonade, did not impact the taste of the food or drink.The effect of these symbolic gestures extends beyond just making the food more enjoyable. According to researchers, the study might have implications for dieters if the rituals that enhance consumption also lead to portion control and less over-eating. A study found that people who took large bites of food, consumed 52 percent more calories in one sitting than those who took small bites and chewed food longer. Also since these gestures can turn neutral activities or situations involving and enhance enjoyment, these might help motivate people to follow healthy eating patterns and enjoy health food.