Mindfulness Matters

Eating is life’s most vital activity, apart from breathing and sleeping (in the same order as well, I think 😉 ). We cannot sustain ourselves without eating. Eating is a must!

Most of the times, we eat so unconsciously, without being aware of how important food is to us. We have forgotten its role when it comes to – our survival, our health and also the way we look. It gives us energy to work, it allows us to think, move, create and thrive.

Our food preferences and choices are based on convenience as compared to our health and well-being. We have become so busy that even eating has just become another task on our ‘to-do’ list. We don’t really have the time to nourish body and soul.

Coming back to my point – Mindfulness Matters – Why?

Mindfulness makes us aware. When we begin to pay attention to how everything we eat, influences our body, we start making smarter choices about what foods to eat.

When we give our complete attention to the meal in front of us, we feel satisfied quickly, we eat less and are able to better digest what we eat.

We live in a fast-paced multi-taking world – we never really slow down. Even when we are eating, we are multi-tasking. We are either watching TV, or are talking to someone on the phone or reading something.

DID YOU KNOW – that multi-tasking registers as stress in the mind and therefore triggers a stress response in the body?

Now extend this to when you are eating. When you are eating under stress or when you are upset, it impacts not only what you eat, but how you digest it too.

Yes, Stress Impacts your Digestion

When your mind registers stress, a series of changes start taking place in the body instantly:

  • Blood pressure rises
  • Digestion is suppressed
  • Immunity is suppressed
  • Detoxification is suppressed
  • Gradual demineralization of bone
  • Fatty acid metabolism is impaired
  • Glucose is released
  • Cholesterol is released
  • Hormones are imbalanced
  • Muscle break down along with fluid retention
  • Fat is deposited
  • Decreased energy
  • Mood fluctuations

So when the mind perceives stress – digesting your food is not really a priority. In fact your digestive system is put on hold, as there other important things for the body to deal with.

Now – because the digestive system is shut down – fewer digestive enzymes are released and obviously this leads to decreased breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  Even the absorption of vitamins and minerals is impaired.

In fact, if you read the pointers above, during the stress response, the cells’ ability to metabolize fatty acids is also impaired. And, to top it off, the body tends to break down muscle and replace it with stored fat and excess fluid. Over time, this can cause weight gain. Still, wondering how you put on the weight!?

Also thanks to this – you experience digestive symptoms, such as acidity, heaviness, bloating, and sometimes unknown stomach discomfort. No matter how healthy or nutritionally balanced your food is, your body will not optimally absorb the nutrients from the meal, if the functioning of the digestive system is impaired

So, as you rush out the door in the morning, with a toast or a ‘snack bar’ in hand to catch your train, or eat lunch in front of a computer screen, or when you are super stressed about the day or are experiencing negative emotions tied to a certain someone or something, you are clearly telling your body “don’t digest.”

And so, Mindfulness Matters, being aware and paying attention while eating guarantees full digestion and maximum nutritional benefit. Try it Out – Results Guaranteed! 🙂 

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Diwali Detox Diet – a Mania

As we go back to work, come back to our regular lives post the Diwali Dhamaka, so many are now looking to “DETOX”! The very popular ‘Diwali Detox Diet’, now has to be followed – we ‘sinned’ during Diwali, we ate mithais, we were up till late, so obviously now it’s time to punish ourselves – so bring out the yucky juices, boiled ill tasting food, and what not!

When I ask someone – who is dying to go on a Detox Diet – why do you want to Detox – I get a very standard reply – “Arre, I ate so much during Diwali – I now need to ‘make up’ for that and get back on track.” And to that I ask – so you think your body stores some ‘Special’ fat in some ‘Special’ parts – to let you know – that ‘Hey dude – this is your Diwali fat.’ Do you really believe a few days of eating – made you FAT? Did you suddenly go from being Skinny to Fat – thanks to Diwali? Exactly my point!

Yes, you ate more than you should, you indulged in mithais, you were up late – but did you not enjoy every minute of it? As you resume work now – do you torture yourself by adding extra hours at work or in any other way, because well you took a break – so time to punish yourself? No – you just went back to work. The same way, go back to eating sensibly, workout regularly, sleep on time and love yourself – including your body!

Be gentle with your mind and your body. Don’t create a belief for yourself that having fun has to be followed up with a punishment. Instead, teach yourself to live in Balance. Teach yourself to listen to what the body has to say, to listen to your Gut – your stomach. Your body is a miracle – it fixes every cut, every wound, when a tiny speck of dust gets into the eye, it is wise enough – to secrete tears so as to remove the speck. Even when you punish your body, torture it – in the name of weight loss – it is still here for you – doing the best it can and keeping you alive. Time you showed it some respect and TLC – it deserves.

I don’t understand – why celebrating a Festival – having fun with Family and loved ones has to be followed by a punishment? Why can we just not enjoy a festival, and move on with our lives – why go from one extreme to the other – bingeing and then starving – like now starve post Diwali and then go bingeing for Christmas and New Year and then make ‘Weight Loss’ as resolution AGAIN on 1st Jan.

Seriously!? Is this all there is to Life? We need to put an end to equating weight loss, of being a certain size to being Happy, worthy and successful and gaining weight as being the exact opposite. Being thinner does not ensure more happiness. Do you think – Cutting calories, climbing on the weighing scale each day, pinching and pulling your ‘fat’ body parts, and measuring self-worth this way – is Happy? I don’t think so!

If you really want to be happy – be committed to yourself. Start doing things that make you happy in a way that we feel connected to your inner self.

I am in no way advocating – remaining unhealthy or over weight. Eat sensibly, workout, drink lots of water, sleep well – get FIT. But don’t obsess over numbers – do what needs to be done – and focus on living your purpose, being Healthy, Fit & Happy – instead of being a certain size or weighing a certain number.

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Weight Watcher’s Words

The best part of my day is when I am with my patients – discussing their lives, insisting and ensuring that they are eating and obviously discussing – Food! With every person I interact, I also understand their mindset which often reflects in the way they talk about Life, Food, Nutrition & Diet. (For now I am sticking to the Food, Nutrition & Diet bit.)

Some of the very commonly-interestingly-annoying concepts I have come across include –

  • Khushboo, can you please help me, I want to go ‘ON’ a diet” – What do you mean by ‘on’ a diet? Is this an on-off switch? Sad, yet true, we believe we must go ‘on’ a diet and lose some weight, and once we reach our goal or target, slowly go ‘off’ it. Obviously after a ‘maintenance’ diet. Anyway, what happens once we go off the ‘diet’ – we slowly and steadily put all the weight back on and may be some more sometimes. Get frustrated and try something new again. And start another cycle. Shouldn’t the point of a diet program be to not gain the weight back? Exactly! So please get off your diet and start living a good balanced life – Eat right, Workout, Think Right, Rest – results have no choice but to follow.
  • “Cheating on the Diet” – this is another funda I just don’t get. Did you take some vows before you got on to the diet? Also by doing what you shouldn’t have done – exactly who or what did you cheat on? Who is the hurt-party in the bargain? Whose loss is it anyway? Did your Diet have heart-break or was it you, who felt sad and guilty thereafter? So time to get Real! You are human, you like to eat, and so you EAT. Yes, this sometimes includes fried, chocolates – or whatever your list of I-shouldn’t-have includes. Eating even these occasionally is good. You can’t be a sadhu, because if you are over-cautious with your diet, you will definitely rebel at some point. So it is best – to eat everything you like – just Sensibly and in moderation. Avoid the moralistic tag of being loyal or faithful to your diet or cheating on it.
  • “Willpower”– ‘By the sheer force of my will, I will follow the diet’ – doesn’t this mean the you are simply forcing yourself to do something, and pressuring yourself to do a particular, which you feel otherwise you cannot sustain? Because, there will come a time, when you will go back to the usual – and then you will blame yourself for not being strong enough, feel guilty, blah, blah, blah.

So to make life easy and more satisfying – Make life-enhancing Choices! Choose to Eat right because YOU want to. Choose to Work out because YOU want to NOT because you Have to. Whenever you choose something out of Love instead of compulsion or fear, the happiness on the inside shows and yes, the results are much better and long-lasting!

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Enjoy your Meal, if you want to ‘Lose’ your Weight

So often, in my practice I come across people, who are willing to give up foods they love or believe that “if I give in to my taste buds, I will stay fat forever. So its better I stay away from my favorite foods”. These are those who have been on and off diets all the time, and that’s because they couldn’t sustain their diet for long. And yet – they choose to follow the same and obviously results will be the same – weight loss (on the scale) when dieting and weight gain (as soon as they go back to normal eating)

We as humans are chemically wired to choose joy over pain or torture. So obviously when we are eating, we want to enjoy the food and in turn feel satisfied and happy. Scientifically when you relish your meal your metabolism goes up and you not only digest your food better but you also absorb maximum nutrients from your meal. In fact people who consciously eat foods that are “good for you,” even though you don’t like them, or if you think you can have a ‘cheat’ meal and compensate for it by eating bad-tasting vitamin-fortified protein bar, or some ‘tall-claimed’ foods or tea – to wash off the effect of the bad diet or purely choose these because you feel you will put on weight if you eat foods you like – then you aren’t doing yourself any ‘healthy’ favor. Instead not only are slowing down your metabolism, you are also reducing the quantity and quality of nutrients that you get from your food.

Haven’t you experienced that when you abstain from eating and enjoying your food, when you go out – you end up bingeing because you know you won’t be eating this again? Now ask yourself – if you could eat everything would you ever have to go on a bingeing spree?

Also haven’t you experienced that when you eat ill-tasting, ‘low-calorie’ food in the name of diet – you end up eating more and end up feeling stuffed but rarely satisfied?

Let’s talk about the science behind both these – the hormone that makes you feel good about your eating experience is the same one that stimulates your digestive system and also signals the brain to stop eating. Also when you are not enjoying your food brain secretes a neurotransmitter that increases your appetite and makes you hunt for food – and you end up feasting after a bit of starving. Then you get on to a guilt trip – again go starving or dieting and thus the cycle of starving and feasting goes on.

The simple act of eating good food – made at home – as simple as a dal chawal with little ghee – not only fills your tummy, it also satisfies your soul. You feel nourished. Your brain secretes the ‘happy’ hormone – thereby improving digestion, assimilation, nutrient absorption and in turn leads to a greater efficiency in ‘calorie burning’ 😀

Again this does not mean you eat anything and everything – mindlessly. I am just explaining that enjoying your meal is a must for your digestion. Cherish your food, celebrate your food and eat well in Moderation 🙂

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Happy Eating!

ARE YOU THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS EATER?

Eating a meal – very often is just another task on so many people’s to do list. They eat super quickly, so that they can just tick one thing off their list and move on. Doing this however comes with its disadvantages. Very often mothers tell their children – to chew their food, eat slowly. It is not just something that mom’s say – there is a reason to it.

Did you know – that your speed of eating can be one of the factors that determine your body weight?

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Why so? The brain takes some time, about 20 mins to process the chemical messengers from the stomach that you are full. When you eat fast, means you are not paying attention to your signals from your stomach and it typically leads to you over-eating as the brain hasn’t received the message to stop yet. That’s why despite of eating – you don’t feel full and you reach out for more food. Now imagine, doing this daily over every meal. What are the results – Weight Gain!

Today we want everything – FAST. Fast Internet, Fast Cars, Fast Food and most definitely FAST WEIGHT LOSS. Yet, speed always isn’t good. When you are doing something nice or having a good time – don’t you want time to Slow down, so you that you can cherish each moment?

Eating slowly with complete awareness is a natural appetite regulator and a powerful tool when it comes to losing weight. When you direct your entire focus on your meal in front of you, involve all your senses into it, relish and savor every bite – you automatically slow down.

So the next time you sit down to a eat – just sit down, say a little prayer or grace, thank the food in front of you and give it your complete attention. You’ll not only enjoy your food, but you will also naturally regulate your appetite, maybe lose a few kilos or inches 😉 and most importantly, you’ll remember that your mother was right. 😉

The ‘Exam’ Diet

By now you do know that what you eat and drink affects ‘YOU’ – yes, definitely apart from your weight, it affects your mind, your mood and your ability to perform well in your Exam. Then I am sure you will be wondering – What is the best diet to follow on exam day? Can food and drink really influence my child’s result? Do you think ‘Food for Thought’ is just a random phrase? 😉

It’s the time of year when all that matters are Marks, Marks and more Marks. Answering your questions – YES – eating well definitely provides an added edge – during this rat-race where even half a mark can be a difference between Rank 1 and 2!

In the whole ‘Exam’ tension – we forget good nutrition. We OD on coffee (arre – don’t we have to stay up all night!), eat whatever we can lay our hands on (I need to munch – otherwise how do I study) – such and many more are the tales told. We think we can trick the brain and the body by eating these things to “keep energy levels up”. But we forget – who is more ‘shaana’ 😉 :p (smart!) However, this is not only harmful to your long-term health, but can also negatively affect your exam performance

Just like studying right from Day 1 (instead of burning candles at both ends a month before exam), eating sensibly right from the beginning helps you ace your tests. The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you will study and quicker you will remember and will be able to recall it quickly when writing your exam – instead of blanking out.

So how do I keep my brain running a fab marathon? Few tips –

Eat at regular intervals. Eating regular meals helps keep nutrient and energy levels more stable, and so you will not suddenly land up snacking on the crunchy munchy chips 😉

Avoid Packaged Processed Foods. Eat food and snacks made at home. Resist the temptation to eat packaged foods – be it chips or biscuits or anything. These foods will send you off on energy highs and lows — creating the exact opposite of a consistent stable high energy that you need during your long exam to perform well. So, a fresh homemade snack – beats all these meals hands down not just in taste but also the nutritional value of the food, and also in the way your brain and body respond to it.

Eat small, balanced meals. Eating large meals will slow you down, mentally and physically. Typically when you eat a large meal, you feel sleepy, because a lot of your blood flow is directed to your digestive system instead of the brain to digest the heavy meal. To keep your brain active – eat smart – eat small – you should feel light and active, more alert and refreshed after eating. This way you study well, are able to concentrate better and remember faster.

Start your day with a fruit. Fruit ranks high among the best foods you can eat for your brain. Eat any fruit – a fruit of your choice – because the natural sugar in fruit offers clean sustained and more stable energy, so you don’t experience the sudden drop in energy that typically follows once you have had tea or coffee (which is why you end up having cups after cups of tea/coffee – because your energy yo-yos from high to low).

Drink lots of water. Water is very important. Dehydration can make you lose your concentration, feel faint, and drain your energy. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink a glass of water. If you wait till you’re thirsty, it means your body is already a little dehydrated.

Don’t try any new foods, drinks, or supplements. Often we end up trying new super foods just before the exam because it is highly recommended by friends or family or some research. For your own sake avoid it. You don’t know how your body responds to them and you don’t want any surprises on exam day. Stick with food and drink your body is used to.

Get enough sleep. Many students get into the habit of studying late into the night, hoping to cram in a little more information into their already fatigued brains. For your brain to function well it needs rest too. Apart from eating right, brain needs a good restful sleep. If the brain is exhausted very often you end up forgetting everything or mixing up answers or just going blank the minute you start to write your paper.

So – eat well, sleep well and All the Best! 🙂

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TIME TO BID GOOD BYE TO YOUR WEIGHING SCALE

Today I had this patient who came to see me – and like always – even before saying a courteous hello or having a glass of water – she jumped up on the weighing scale to see how much she had ‘lost’? I could not hold my laughter, and told her ‘I am not sure about your weight, but you have definitely lost your mind’. To this she promptly replied – ‘Noooo – Khush – you see if I have a glass of water, I will weigh 500gms more’, and I was like – Really!?

Weighing – is becoming an obsession. I know of people who weigh themselves not just daily and but after every meal and every time they use the loo! So now the scale and those numbers define their self-image. They cannot associate themselves for who they, but are identified by the number. You may be a good parent, you may be amazing at what you do or you may be a good person or anything – but still you choose to be unhappy because of how much you weigh. Does this make sense?

I really think it is time to THROW YOUR SCALE.

Now,

  • Become more aware of how you feel instead of worrying about some number.
  • Listen and get in touch with your to hunger signals instead of worrying that I might gain a kilo or gram.
  • Stop counting calories and started seeking out food your body needs
  • And most importantly – STOP picking apart every flaw or bulge and started seeing yourself as a whole person.

Give up the obsession with the number and focus on feeling Healthy, Light and Fit.

I am sure, by now you must itching to know the ‘results’ of following this practice! Like I have said before there are other ways to measure improvement besides looking at some number. You can always pay attention to how your clothes fit. You can measure yourself with a tape measure. You feel lighter, more energetic and people around you start Complimenting you 😉

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So STOP worrying about your ‘size’ and how much you weigh.  And this definitely does not mean Eat like a maniac and don’t care about what you eat – it means – eat sensibly, live sensibly, exercise – focus on being healthy and not looking thin! And trust me or rather your own body – for unless there are some major unknown medical issues, most people come to their own version of “healthy weight”, “healthy size” –  when they are living a healthy life. So focus on nourishment, eat good clean homemade food, and stay  active – this way you are on the right track than following some crazy diet for 2 weeks and then finally giving up coz-its-difficult-to-follow and cursing yourself.

So, how do you know it is Time for you to throw your Scale?

  • You have fixed a specific number that you wanted to “be” with regards to your weight even if “being” that number means you starve or punish yourself in the name of exercise
  • You wait to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, without-any-clothes, after going to the bathroom for the “best” results?
  • You suddenly felt ugly when the scale showed that you were up a kilo or 2 from the day before?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you might also benefit from throwing your scale out.

Try it Out for a Month or 2! What is the big deal? I am sure letting go of worries about weighing a certain number – you definitely will have Lesser wrinkles 😉 . In fact, when you start living this way, you will feel empowered, more beautiful, confident and no more at the mercy of a number to define you. You will be able to connect to your inner self, your stomach, your body.

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Sounds kinda cool!

Would love you hear about experience, once you try this.

The Thin Line between Eating and Over Eating

Just think the last time you overate – when was it? What were you feeling – were you worried or anxious or stressed or simply so busy multitasking that you were completely unaware of how much you ate? In my practice as a Nutrition Counselor, I am often asked – ‘how much should do you think I should eat?  Is 1 roti enough or do I need 2?’ And my standard answer is – ‘Do I live inside your stomach? Then how do I know?’

I do understand where most of these people come from – they are often unable to identify the thin line between eating & overeating. And by the time they realize they are full, they have already overeaten!

Do you know why you overeat when worried, anxious, stressed or unaware?

When you are in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response. This is your biological response to stress. Your body shuts down processes such as digestion and increases your heart rate. During fight or flight, the adrenal gland releases cortisol – the stress hormone. Just imagine – when you are eating and your digestive system is actually switched off – because you are stressed – so what happens to the food you eat? How do you get your nourishment?

When you are in this state of fight or flight – your mind is in panic mode – so you are unable to simply enjoy the food in front of you. You need to consume a far larger quantity of food before your brain can register and even begin to relish the food in the mouth!

Solution

I thus tell my patients that the secret to know when to stop is that – even before you sit to eat, sit in a relaxed frame of mind. No matter where you are, and what you are doing – when you sit down to eat, leave all your worries aside, say a little prayer, thank the food in front of you – and then focus all your attention to the food in front of you. As you take a bite to eat, focus on the appearance of it, the smell, and the colours. As you put it in your mouth focus on the taste the texture – try and involve all your senses as you eat.  When you are relaxed and eat in awareness – you actually relish every little bite you eat. And you will actually feel satisfied with just the right amount of food you need in that moment.

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Are you eating the Guilt or is the Guilt Eating you?

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We are counting days to the New Year.In these days of festivity and merry making – we do tend to enjoy – go out, eat out, eat more – and even as we have just taken the first bite of the goodie – we are already on a guilt trip! “Damn – this cake is like 1000 calories – how am I going to burn it?” Sounds like someone you know?

Now let me ask you – dint you anyway eat the cake or cookie or pizza or whatever-oh-so-fattening food? Then why the guilt Now? You chose to eat something with complete awareness, then why the repent?

You ate because you were happy, you were celebrating, and yes you wanted to enjoy – then why slam your joy brakes and count calories! Why can it not just be a simple choice of eating something – feeling grateful for the goodies and from the next meal going back to eating sensibly? What is done is done – you holding on to the guilt – does not make you thin or ‘burn’ the calories.

Body doesn’t hold on to excess weight or calories just because you ate something you were not supposed to in one meal. The excess weight is piled over the years – over time of continuous undisciplined eating – and not eating sensibly. As always I am asking to keep your moderation and balance when eating and you can still have a healthy fit body.

Don’t Run Away From Laddoos This Diwali

Diwali also known as Deepavali means the festival of lights. We celebrate Diwali each year with a lot love, fun and yes Mithai (sweets). But all those on a so-called “Diet” want to run away or hide during this period. Why?? Because – if I eat mithai – I will become fat!!

So – as usual I have a few thoughts and few questions and I leave it to you to decide if you want to Run and Hide or instead this Diwali – have a big smile and enjoy the Ladoos with your loved ones!

Historically, there are many reasons on the origins of this vibrant festival. Diwali was the celebration of Lord Ram’s homecoming to Ayodhya after victory over Ravan. Also on this day, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated during the churning of the ocean, hence the association of Diwali with Goddess Lakshmi. Diwali is generally associated with abundance and thus we invoke Goddess Lakshmi ~ so that we are blessed with  prosperity and abundance – in love, friendships and relationships, wisdom, creativity, good health, care, enthusiasm, confidence, peace of mind, wealth etc.

Diwali is also to celebrate the victorious return of Lord Krishna, after victory over the demon Narakasur and then rescuing 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival. According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was this day when the mighty and righteous Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice.

So basically – Diwali signifies celebration – the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, right over wrong, good over evil. And yes – when we celebrate these blessed moments – it is natural to rejoice and bond over food too. Exactly why – mithais are made in every household.

In every house during Diwali sweets are made. As a matter of fact, after we make these sweets with lot of love and care with carefully selected ingredients like ghee, dry fruit, jaggery or sugar, etc. We then keep aside a small portion of this and place it in our temples as an offering to God. We invoke the blessings of God and then eat this mithai as a Prasad.

So, now my turn to ask questions – If the mithai was so-bad or dangerous – would we offer it to God? Would we ever think of making mithais with oil instead of ghee or with sugar free substitutes and then serve it to God? Or do we believe in serving our Gods the real thing?? Then why are we running away from it? Why is the God inside of us made to suffer – by giving it substitutes? Why can we not choose to nourish our own selves too? Is food only numbers for us ? Have we forgotten that we eat to get energy, to nurture our soul?

Now –  I am definitely not advocating madly eating insane amounts of sweets, but yes why not a piece or 2 of the laddoo. Why not share this mithai with our family, our loved ones? Why not celebrate the Goodness of our meals?

Shine your inner light this Diwali.. Also eating ghee-wala mithai – helps bring a glow on our face too because – ghee is made of essential fat.  We need fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A and E. Both work as antioxidants and are rich in anti-ageing properties and thus the glowing skin 😉Diwali