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Nutrition, nourishment and Nutritionist- How the health scare for us is real- concluding part

Where do you think we have gone wrong with diet despite the best of food and knowledge available in public domain?

One of the main reasons behind this question is the question itself. We as human tend to be lethargic always when it comes to lifestyle. There is no word called “Diet plan” which gives you your desired goals, a sheet of paper cannot do much to you.

There is a lack of Vitamin-D in us. Here I am not referring to vitamin-D which comes from food and sunlight but the one which is supposed to come from within “us”. Yes exactly, it is Vitamin-D called Discipline. Changing and chopping diets, hopping from one goal to another just because we feel bored with a routine doesn’t help. Follow a plan which meets your RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for the day, show some discipline towards food and meal timings. Keep reading some blogs/ articles related to food and nutrition.

Why is not so common in India to seek the services of a nutritionist unless suffering from obesity or other diet related ailments? How about preventative health management?

Hmm…m, now this is a tricky question!!!!

Indian mind-set tends to save money and spend on conventional medicine in hospitals rather than holistic lifestyle. The revenue of hospitals is growing exponentially cashing in on the fear of health and lifestyle concerns. Doctors do suggest general approach to diet as they do not have a complete knowledge or understanding of customised diet or condition induced nourishment.

According to my personal survey and several interviews of the Doctors, I learnt that Doctors love to recommend nutritional pills, dietary supplements and tonics due to vested interest in promoting their favourite brands. The same practice will suffer a blow when Nutritionists start to change the perspective of common people towards total nourishment and recovery through customised food groups. As a result, not many hospitals employ Nutritionist or Dietician. Also, people see the fee paid to Nutritionist as an unnecessary cost and not willing to consult such food specialists separately.

Indians love breakdown maintenance, whether it relates to their cars or their personal health, the attitude is the same. Until something bad happens, no one likes to see their mechanic or Doctor. This is deeply ingrained in the psyche of our society, preventative means waste of time and money. I could see some encouraging signs in the past couple of years as some reputed companies insisted on having the medical and health check up prior to offering employment. This is to ensure that they are not hiring someone who is likely to become a health insurance burden in coming time. Also, the health and life insurance companies ask the insured to undertake medical tests to ensure that person seeking insurance has a healthy lifestyle which in turn will limit their liability in short term.

People who care for themselves and their family must consult their physician and nutritionist at least once a year to ensure that all the health and lifestyle parameters are fine.

How does a nutritionist see the balanced diet, or the absence of it? What is the advice for people who go on crash diet?

A balanced diet by definition is a diet that helps to maintain or improve overall health. A healthy diet provides the body with essential fluids, macronutrients, micronutrients and adequate calories. But this is an old saying;  hence the new holistic approach for a common people is as follows: 

  • Make sure you take 2 meals+ 1breakfast +1 or 2 healthy snacking and adequate amount of water
  • Make sure your breakfast meal looks colourful with variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • Mid-day snacking and evening snacks plans a crucial role when it comes to healthy food, try to incorporate these two breaks in a day so that you don’t end up eating larger portion during your main meals. 
  • Ensure some amount of protein from lean chicken, fish, eggs, lentil, sprouts is included in your diet regularly for muscle growth and maintenance.
  • Ensure at least 3 different kinds of vegetable and 2-3 different kinds of fruits in your diet everyday. 
  • Probiotics like butter milk plays a crucial role when it comes to Gut flora health; hence try to have at least once a day.
  • Brisk walk at least 30-50 minutes per day.
  • Start practicing Aerobics / Yoga / Meditation on a daily basis.
  • Eat your meals regularly and in moderation.
  • Enjoy a wide variety of foods but fully avoid junk food, carbonated beverage and deep fried food. Enjoy coffee and tea in moderation.
  • Use all varieties of fruits and vegetables, some suitable ones like carrots, cucumbers in raw form also.
  • Use all varieties of cereals, especially whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice.
  • Drink at least 3 litres of water a day.
  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds should be included in your breakfast meal regularly. Theya re also called superfoods.
  • Use least processed oil and natural herbs for salad dressing
  • Use pulses, especially sprouts. Soak your lentil or beans overnight and pressurecook them to destroy phytic acid and lectin.

Crash diet or a crap ???
Any medical professional who recommends a crash diet is like a trash bin handler. As mentioned earlier a single sheet of paper can achieve very little for you. In fact, it brings more trouble to your health and longevity. A crash diet is nothing but the one which crashes the immune system, metabolism, vigour and vitality. This temporary way of losing weight is counterproductive, there is every chance that you will gain weight aggressively in future. This is not a good practice for losing weight. It is important to spend time with your physical trainer and nutritionist to find a permanent and sustainable solution to managing weight.

How can one, in general term, know how much to eat, and the same is balanced, aesthetically pleasing and contains all the essential nutrients?

One must have basic understanding of their body and ways to sustain it. Every individual is different; hence their requirements also vary. One must learn with time to consume according to their body type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), kind of activities they are involved in, the kind of environment they live in and other general factors. As an individual try including proteins from various sources like lean chicken/dals/sprouts/eggs etc., vitamins from fresh fruits and vegetables, minerals from dry fruits, nuts and seeds, all in moderate portion on regular basis. This is an absolute must. The theory of adequacy is best experienced in context of cravings, in moderation it is a bliss and in excess it impairs health.

How do you see the role of the modern nutraceutical powders such as Horlicks, Boost, Bournvita in child’s nourishment? Can there be better substitute?

Pause, take a deep breath and turn the time machine to travel 30-40 years back. Did you find these supplements then, weren’t we blessed with better immunity and healthy eating practices?

With the advent of the television, images of the healthy child rolled over time and again, consuming health drink. The perception became reality, we yearned to have this healthy kid in our family. Such desire pushed us to introduce nutraceuticals powder in our daily life. Advertisements cashed in on our emotions, they changed the outlook of healthy child forever. In early 80s and 90s the health powders conquered all the Indian homes which could afford them. No one questioned their suitability, no one back then knew how to read the food labels. The image of beautiful and healthy child on the cover was good enough to make the selection.

FSSAI (Food safety and standards Authority of India) has made it mandatory for food companies to mention every ingredient used in the formulations in the cover of the health drink. Most of the time they are mentioned in such small fonts that the eyes will struggle to pick them up. In other time you will come across the term permitted colours and preservatives, you wouldn’t bother to check them either. Such drinks are full of sugar. In any case it’s a win win for the companies promoting health drink, many times at the cost of your child’s health.

I would strongly recommend stopping these health drinks, you can make the formulations at home with little patience and lots of love. See below for more information on homemade health powder

  1. Almonds
  2. Cashew nuts
  3. Walnuts
  4. Pistachio
  5. Cardamom powder
  6. Cinnamon powder

Dry roast all the above ingredients in equal proportion. Cool down. Using the attachment for making powder, grind them into fine powder.

Store them in an air tight container in a dry place. Use this powder (1tbsp) along with milk or yogurt or hot water everyday instead of the other supplements. This one powder contains all the essential nutrients which a human body requires so as to be healthy on a longer run.

Feel free to post your questions, suggestions or feedback on these articles intended to benefit your understanding of nutrition and nourishment.

I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to Ms. Pranathi who found time out of her busy schedule to write a blog for the benefit of our readers. I hope she continues to contribute in the future also.

If for some reason you missed reading the first part of the blog, you can click the link below to read

“Namaste” and happy reading