FOODWIKI

Food: Facts & Fads

Ms. Neelanjana Singh | President, Indian Dietetics Association, Delhi

DIET MATTERS

It is intriguing that in spite of the growing evidence in favour of eating right, people continue to eat recklessly and put their health at grave risk. As a nutritionist, this does not augur well. My short piece here is an effort to bring forth some interesting facts that may help in building the right attitude towards food and health.

Eating as a family is good for health
It is intriguing that in spite of the growing evidence in favour of eating right, people continue to eat recklessly and put their health at grave risk. As a nutritionist, this does not augur well. My short piece here is an effort to bring forth some interesting facts that may help in building the right attitude towards food and health.

You are what you eat, but also 'when' and 'how' you eat
Eating healthy is not just about the nutrients in the food. Eating inconsistently, hurriedly or very late into the night can have adverse effects on our health.

Look beyond calories
Calorie counting can be very limiting because not all calories are the same. Calories from a banana are any day better than the same number of calories from a piece of cake or pastry. The calories from a banana come with the bonus of B-6 vitamin and soluble fibre. The equivalent amount of cake is no match for this!

Eat food that requires chewing
Your teeth need to play a bigger role in the digestive process, and it is for this reason that coarser millets such as bajra, jowar and ragi are all the fad. Quit the white, refined grains, and go for the coarse browns. Red, brown and black rice are also great options.

Pay attention to right pairing of foods
Carbs have been the much maligned nutrient but the truth is that they remain the mainstay of the human diet. It is only when the quality of carbs gets refined or over processed or if the quantity of carbs consumed is larger than the requirement that problems arise. This is why it is always recommended to eat the cereal( rice /wheat / millets) with beans /dal / besan kadhi / legumes so that the protein quality of the combo rises to a top notch level. Not only does the protein quality improve, the glycemic index of such combinations changes for the better. A bowl of rice can cause huge surges in blood sugar levels but a combination of rice and dal in the ratio of 5:1 keeps it just right.

The PH matters
Adding lemon to your foods not only improves digestion but also keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Adding lemon also increases the availability of iron to the body. Similarly, adding fruit vinegar to salads and other dishes can be helpful.

Add zing to water
Good old plain water has become boring which is why you may have noticed that many new water based products are out in the market. Here is a DIY tip: The antioxidant-rich lemongrass, basil, tulsi, mint or lemon rind come loaded with the benefit of fighting free-radicals and they taste great, too. Add these to your jug of drinking water and reap the benefits.

Don't drink your fruit
Juice is typically considered natural and nutritious, but the evidence of its downside continues to grow. Eating whole fruit (with the edible peels) can lower your risk of diabetes by 20% but drinking juice (even the freshly squeezed variety) could up the risk by the same measure.

Opt for fermented and sprouted foods
All grains, legumes (dals) and seeds have the ability to sprout under the right conditions. Sprouting improves their nutrient profile and digestibility. Fermented foods not only taste good but also provide the benefit of the friendly bacteria that can play a huge role in keeping us healthy. This explains why fecal transplants (with the right bacterial flora) are the new way of treatment for some of the very challenging diseases.

Snacks can make it or break it
It is important to schedule snacks into your routine as it is physiological to feel hungry post breakfast and post lunch. Keep the snack options ready for the day- corn on the cob, air popped corn, sweet potato, nuts, fruit, yogurt or roasted gram are all good options. When eating packaged snacks, be in control by plating it out rather than eating from the packet.

Chuck the fad diets
Fad diets always make claims that attracts people to it. The desire to get the fastest result drives most of us, although we know that science says that slow and steady wins the race. Eggs, butter, dairy and nuts - all of these were out of favour up until a couple of years ago are now on the 'to have' list. But make sure not to exceed the limit of even the so-called good foods. Wholesome nutrition, akin to medicine, is all about the right doses. Knowing the appropriate portion size recommendations is crucial to the business of healthy eating.

Do not wait for disease to strike before making these positive changes in your diet. Go for them now!

About

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