Tag Archives: exercise

Oil-free and Plant-Based Food Serve Up A Healthy Desi Diet

Two years ago, I could not imagine cooking and eating oil-free food. Cooking good food was synonymous with a liberal splash of cooking oil in everything from simple sabji to biryani.

I loved cooking all my recipes  with lots of oil, though I knew it was bad for my health. Every dish began with a bottle of cooking oil right beside me.  As a foodie I relished food glazed with oil.

Homemade chakalis were my favorite. As a vegetarian, I assumed that oily snacks were okay, given my healthy vegetarian diet of fruit smoothies, brown rice, sambar, vegetables and beans.

But I often wondered why I was putting on weight despite my plant-based diet. In Atlanta, I met Shobha, and my perspective drastically changed. Shobha is an advocate of plant-based foods, inspiring folks to thrive on plant-based fare with zero oil!  That simple conversation with her had a profound impact on me.

I joined Shobha’s WhatsApp group and my plant-based health education began.

I discovered that the persistent ache in my knees was inflammation from the excessive oil in my diet.

I was shocked to find out that all cooking oils, from soybean to canola oil are highly processed. High temperature and chemicals are used to extract oil, a  process that make their nutrients go rancid.

When I learned that one tablespoon of oil has 120 calories, I nearly fainted. I felt so guilty! All that processed oil in my everyday food!

The more I discovered, the more I realized how little I knew about how cooking oil affects the body.

Processed oil is responsible for so many health issues – obesity, constipation, inflammation, heart attacks, and more.

And yet, the information you read on websites and news articles is really so confusing and overwhelming.

Are cold pressed sesame oil and coconut oil safe? Is olive oil as healthy as  nutritionists claim?. And what about using “just a little oil’. Vloggers and sharers of recipes suggest 4 to 5 tablespoon of oil per pound of vegetables. Doctors and nutritionists urge folks to include oil in their diets, as oil fat is essential in the absorption of some vitamins, and the healthy functioning of cells and tissues.

So what’s the truth?

Our modern diet and lifestyle is driving the upsurge in diabetes, heart disease, and blood pressure. The reality is that oils have extremely low nutritive value. Both the monounsaturated and saturated fat they contain is harmful to the endothelium, the innermost layer of the artery, and that injury is a gateway to vascular disease.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s olive oil, coconut oil, or canola – my takeaway is to avoid all oil. And since diabetes and heart disease run in my family, I made an intentional decision to drastically cut back on oil in my everyday cooking.

At first, it was hard. I automatically reached for the oil when I started cooking. I had to really make a conscious effort to stop myself!

Magically, my WhatsApp group delivered. They shared amazing pictures  of oil-free recipes and dishes.

In the span of few months I was cooking up a storm of  tasty, zero-oil dishes, from upma to masala vadas, and cookies to cakes. No unhealthy oil!

Now, I’m on a roll. Here’s how.

In delicious cakes and cookies, I substitute applesauce and banana for oil .

I get healthy fats from fresh coconut, guacamole, almonds, walnuts and sesame seeds. My zero-oil channa masala and rotis are delicious. To sauté onions, I just use a tablespoon or two of water instead! Going oil-free has helped me to explore so many interesting food items and cooking techniques .  Fortunately, my family loves it too!

I’m simply awed by the tasty and nutritious dishes I can make without a drop of oil!

Growing up, I loved deep-fried peanuts and spicy lentils. Now I simply roast sprouted green gram, channa dal and peanuts in the oven, and while it’s still warm, I mix in chili powder and salt. Yummy! My husband couldn’t believe it had no oil at all!

Studies show that Indian Americans have high rate of heart disease. In fact many vegetarians assume that they are thriving on a healthy diet, even though their food is rich in carbohydrates, fats, cholesterol and sugar. Sugar and all-purpose flour are white poison. I realize that cooking oil is colorless poison.

Once or twice in a week, I  use cold-pressed sesame or peanut oil as they offer a healthier option than highly processed vegetable oils.  Occasionally, I have a deep fried treat, during festivals and on special occasions, but no longer need to open my chakali box!

My mindful eating habits have produced a happy result – fortunately, I no longer suffer from knee pain  and my weight has stabilized  I know my new plant-based diet with zero oil, and thirty minutes of exercise, is playing a pivotal role in my leading a healthy lifestyle.


Kumudha Venkatesan is based in Atlanta and often writes about the vegan lifestyle and spirituality.

Edited by Meera Kymal, Contributing Editor at India Currents
Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash
Photo by Jo Sonn on Unsplash

Madhumeha: Ancient Origins, Recent Epidemic

Diabetes has existed for millennia. It has been recognized by several ancient cultures including Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Persian. Sushruta, a surgeon and physician who lived around 600BC in the Varanasi area in northern India, documented it in his works. They recognized that ants were attracted to the urine of affected individuals and it was named Madhumeha (Sanskrit; madhu- honey).

Ancient physicians also recognized that there were two types of conditions that involved excessive urination and loss of weight. This recognition of excessive sugar in individuals affected by diabetes was refined over the next 2000 years, and in the 18th century, England Johann Peter Frank is credited with the identification of two forms of diabetes- diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Mellitus (Greek; honey) was associated with high levels of sugar in the urine, while insipidus was not. In fact, diabetes insipidus is an unrelated condition related to hormonal control of the kidneys, leading to excessive urination. 

By the 5th century physicians in India and China had noticed that there are two kinds of diabetes mellitus- one of which was prevalent in older and heavier individuals. Methods to recognize, understand and treat diabetes mellitus have evolved with technological developments. Relatively rapid progress since the 18th century has identified insulin as the hormone secreted by the pancreas that plays a central role in this indication, and also defined type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 (also termed ‘early onset’ and ‘insulin dependent’) is a condition that generally develops in children and younger individuals where insulin production by the pancreas is compromised or completely shut down due to several reasons. Type 2 diabetes (also termed ‘adult onset’ and ‘non-insulin-dependent’) is the focus of this article and has become a global health problem. 

In its current trend of prevalence Type 2 diabetes, or T2D, has blurred two boundaries. It was previously confined to low- and middle-income countries but is now on the rise even in the higher-income countries. Secondly, the age of onset is not confined to older patients. Among the Indian population worldwide, T2D is gaining numbers within India and also within expatriate Indian and southeast Asian communities. Some studies put the number of Indians in the US as the group with the highest incidence of diabetes than any other racial group at an age group above 20. Similar reports have been made with respect to Europe and UAE. Within India itself the numbers of T2D in adults 20 years and above has tripled over the past 3 decades.

This appreciable increase in T2D in southeast Asian expatriate communities, and also within their countries especially India and China, is thought to be due to the relatively recent cultural changes in diet and lifestyle over the past 50 years, such as an increase in consumption of fried foods, fast food, refined grains and sugars, lack of dietary fiber, and sedentary lifestyles.

In addition to these behavioral changes T2D is caused by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors, and familial history serves as an indicator for individuals to be forewarned about their own health. That said, considering the speed with which changes in the age of onset and frequency of T2D are being documented, it appears that environmental, diet, and lifestyle changes are the major contributors to the current epidemic. Also, in general, Indians have a higher degree of insulin resistance than Caucasians, which occurs when the cells of the body lose the capacity to respond to insulin even when it is being produced by the pancreas. 

The burden of the long-term health effects of T2D are significant to the individual and from a public health perspective. The more stark chronic manifestations include neuropathies, foot ulcers, blindness, kidney dysfunctions, accelerated aging, and a general decline in health and productivity. In addition to insulin, newer medicines exist to control blood sugar and insulin response, and other therapies are being developed including stem cell therapeutics. 

If there is a good aspect to T2D it is that it can be prevented or the onset delayed. The fact that onset can be delayed is a point of practical importance, as most of the clinical manifestations arise due to cumulative effects of high circulating sugar. Prevention is the best cure, as the adage goes. A regular health check-up will flag a ‘pre-diabetes; condition. Glucose intolerance tests, HbA1c levels in the blood, body mass index, and overweight are common tests to gauge pre-diabetes. This indication should be taken as a warning, and acted upon seriously and with a positive attitude. 

The trinity of diet, exercise, and stress management are often called upon. Eat less. Eat on time. Walk more. In general, the lifestyle changes that are recommended are geared towards helping maintain an even level of blood sugar and reduction to, or maintenance of, an optimal body weight.

Processed grains, and refined carbohydrates like maida (all-purpose flour), have a high glycemic index. As against whole grains, they are quickly metabolized to sugar and result in a sudden spike of increase in glucose in the blood. Our standard fare includes white rice or chappatis/other breads as a base, and this can be substituted with brown rice and atta (whole wheat).

Instead of serving up a plate with a large portion of rice and sides of vegetables and protein, switch around the amounts and serve up rice as a side dish instead. Control portion sizes, and maintain steady time intervals between meals and snacks. Include soupy low-calorie items which will serve to fill up the stomach. Fasting is not recommended. Eat a diet of high fiber which includes green leafy vegetables and excludes starchy vegetables, skim milk-based yogurt, and whole grains. High fiber dals (moong, masur, urad, etc., along with sprouted whole dals) and beans (such as chole and rajma) should be a mainstay. Including methi (fenugreek) regularly in cooking, and in salads and dals after sprouting (sprouting methi completely reduces its bitter taste) adds flavor and a health benefit. Fruits that are delicious and low in sugar include papaya, guavas, blueberries, and jamoon

Items to be conscious of and exclude, or eat in disciplined quantities, include fried foods and fatty foods in general (including our delicious tea-time snacks!), foods that include sugar and artificial sweeteners (yes, some sweeteners and bulk additives added to sweeteners can produce a sugar spike!), and processed grains. While regulating these will help with the maintenance of body weight, avoiding sugar, sweeteners and the inclusion of whole grains will maintain even levels of blood sugar. Depending on the stage of diabetes fruits may be eaten in moderation, but high sugar fruits such as mangoes, grapes, and sapotas should be avoided. 

As with diet, steady exercise is highly recommended for diabetes. Even our hoary sage Sushruta recommended this, and in some studies, the inclusion of exercise had the most obvious ameliorative effect. The type of exercise will need to vary based on the individual’s age and capacities, but even a basic activity like a daily brisk walk for about thirty minutes would make a difference. Obviously, more will be required if weight loss is an objective. Although yoga is excellent for weight maintenance, it will not suffice for weight loss regimes. Walking, yoga, and exercise, in general, will also help in stress management, and others may be included, such as reading, meditation, etc., depending on individual preferences. 

Tackling the diabetes epidemic at the global level would need to start with the individual. 


L Iyengar has lived and worked in India and the USA. A scientist by training, she enjoys experiencing diverse cultures and ideas. She can be found on Twitter at @l_iyengar .


 

Stay Fabulous At 50 By Staying Fit

Let us face it. In your 50’s your body is not the same as it was in your 20’s and 30’s, as aging changes many things internally. However, exercising after your 50’s can add healthy years to your life, and it is important that you exercise caution and the right thing in the right way. And with the ongoing pandemic and lessons that COVID-19 is teaching us, there is no doubt that you need to be fit of all ages to battle new-age health challenges. While a significant proportion of Americans are active, less than 25% of adults meet national physical activity guidelines and 40% have obesity as per the ACSM American Fitness Index 2020 report. And as you age fitness is harder while more necessary.

Know Your Body

As the body begins to age, it is not as receptive to unexpected changes and this becomes just another reason to work out and uphold a certain level of fitness.

“As you age, adapting an active and healthy lifestyle is of prime importance to help regulate and monitor your health base. Moreover, indulging in exercise and body workouts on a regular basis can guard you against unwanted heart ailments, diabetes and can also avert you from certain forms of cancer. Working out regularly can also lessen discomfort related to arthritis. By refining one’s stability and balance, suppleness, stamina, fortitude, and strength, older adults can live restored and healthier longer,” says Shalini Bhargava, Fitness Expert & Director at JG’S Fitness Centre.

Exercise Mix

Endurance exercises, such as low-impact aerobics, walking, using cardiovascular equipment such as elliptical trainers, cycle, and swimming based on the level of physical conditioning and current status of health at least five days each week is recommended.

The 50s are when chances of developing osteoporosis goes up and therefore it is imperative to add toning exercises; cardio alone is not enough. Pilates, yoga, and weight-training are some of the options to maintain muscle mass and tone up. These exercises should best be done under professional supervision to avoid injury. Swimming is yet another great workout for this age-group as the risk of injury is much less.

“I would suggest you do either 15 minutes of toning regularly or 45 minutes, thrice a week in combination with a cardio activity of course. During a cardio workout, you are bearing your own body weight, the bones work against gravity and hence reduce mineral loss. I am 52, so I ensure I weight train for two days, dance for two days, and walk for at least four hours a week,” says Suman Agarwal, Celebrity Nutritionist, Author, and Founder of Selfcare India.

Since their movement becomes decreased at that age, they need to focus more on their flexibility and mobility.

“One should avoid strenuous training and sprinting on the treadmill. Not many chest movements should be done and overhead pressing movements should be avoided. Whenever one feels uncomfortable, they should stop immediately and not continue,” says Prosenjit Biswas, Fitness Manager, Skulpt gym, Kolkata.

Do it Right

Sujeet Kumar of Fatcherry International

Start slowly, especially when embarking on a new exercise routine, and ensure you have professional supervision.

Anjali Sareen, The Zone Mind & Body Studio avers, “Choosing a fitness program based on one’s own goals and needs is a must. Selecting fitness routines based on current popular trends or because your friends are doing them or out of convenience of location or price should not be deciding factors. A better option is to focus on personal training sessions with an experienced professional. These sessions can be customized to suit your fitness level, goals, and take into consideration any health concerns or injuries. An experienced professional will be able to include a diverse range of exercises and programming to cover all aspects of a complete fitness program from physical goals to energy and mind gains.”

“Active warm-up reduces resistance to stretch and increases elastic properties or ability to stretch where activity includes stationary cycling, fast walk, or rowing machine. “Proper breathing techniques are often helpful in relaxing and may help reduce stress levels and voluntary muscle tension to avoid internal organ injuries. Maintaining a neutral position of your spine, hips, shoulders, and neck can be greatly improved by using the hand not grasping the ankle to grab the back of a chair to maintain a balance. Gradually decrease in exercise intensity at the end of any cardiovascular exercise to allow heart rate and blood pressure to decrease,” explains Sujeet Kumar, Director & Coach, Fatcherry International Pvt Ltd.

Look Out

Once over 50, it is best to avoid strenuous exercise like long-distance running, high-impact aerobics and weight-training exercises like deadlifts as these can put you at a higher risk of injury. As you age, your muscles shrink, hence opt for low-intensity cardio and toning activities. Avoid running on a treadmill or brisk-walking on an incline as both forms put pressure on the knees. Instead, jog on the ground.

Himay Chikani and Amrin Memon, Co-founders, AH Fitness opine, “Untrained seniors who begin exercising should start at a relatively low exercise intensity and volume. The early phase of the training program should be directed towards learning proper exercise techniques and minimizing the risk of injuries. Advanced and demanding exercises should be incorporated gradually into the program.”

Diksha Chhabra, Fitness Expert, Nutritionist & Founder, Diksha Chhabra Fitness Consultation adds, “High-intensity training, plyometric training, skipping, running or certain movements of weight training like Deadlift, Pull-ups, Leg extensions, and Heavyweight training needs more attention and care while performing as this is the age when your joints start showing signs of detrition and workouts with multiple joints involved or a moment of pressure can put unnecessary jerk on the joints can lead to a long term injury. Hence one must practice controlled momentum and intensity with or without weights for long-term activity.”

Take Care

Always warm-up before starting your workout and cool down when you finish. When you injure yourself at a young age, recovery is much faster. At 50, injuries take longer to heal. Stretches are a must as shoulder, lower back, and knee pain are most common for those in the age bracket.

Sheetal Tewari, Holistic Health Coach, Yoga and meditation teacher, Sound Healer advises, “Do not overdo. The thumb rule is not overdoing anything just because you like it and it’s exciting to try new workouts. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. Choose what works for your body type not what everyone else is doing.” Do pay attention to your body’s signals and try new exercises but with complete precautions.

Dr. Ashish Jain, Orthopedic surgeon, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim, Mumbai explains, “The aim now is to get into ‘anti-aging’ mode. Weight training must continue with maximum possible intensity to help maintain muscle mass and bone density. I suggest focusing more on leg workouts as they comprise the larger body segment and need to be strong for the coming years ahead. Squats, leg press, knee extensions, hamstring curls, and calf raises help in overall leg development. Some form of daily cardio is essential too and I suggest ‘low impact’ options like walks, swimming, cycling, and cross trainers.”

Consistency is the key. So, stay fabulous at 50 by staying fit.


Bindu Gopal Rao is a freelance writer and photographer from Bangalore who likes taking the offbeat path when traveling. Birding and environment are her favorites and she documents her work on www.bindugopalrao.com.

Nexts Steps to Reduce Anxiety

Are you feeling anxious during these troubled and difficult COVID times? Anxiety starts to affect our mental and physical status. We worry about our families, friends, and ourselves. What if something happens, what next? Fear, and anxiety, come from thinking of the future.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs. In the traditional Maslow pyramid, we see that the basic physiological ( food, water, warmth, rest) and safety needs ( security, safety) are not met for many of us. Many have lost their jobs, do not have a roof over their heads, or even food to eat. This causes immense anxiety, frustration, anger, and fear. However, even for those whose primary needs are met, there is still a tremendous amount of anxiety. To help understand and cope with this feeling in these unusual times I have redefined the upper part of the pyramid.

In these uneasy COVID times, it is necessary to ease our minds. What are our emotional needs during a difficult time like this? Here is a simple diagram that helps explain it. During this time it is good to go within us.

Let’s look at this diagram. We need to accept this situation as it is. It may not be what we anticipated or wanted, but with Acceptance, it will be easier to deal with the situation, rather than fight against it. 

Routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed. In these times it would be beneficial to create a healthy routine. Pick things that you have control over and make them an integral part of your routine.  When new things show up that are not in your control, let them go, and don’t let it affect your routine. In this process of not being able to be always in control of happenings, anger, and frustration arise, which need to be slowly released. 

Would you like to connect with others? We have been asked to social distance. The effects of this have brought about sadness and a feeling of loneliness. Even though you are social distancing, you can nurture your relationships with emotional Connections. Go on, pick up the phone, and speak with a friend, text, or use social media. Share your feelings and know that you are still connected even though you are physically apart. This is not forever.

The world has slowed down so that you can discover yourself. Think about taking a pause and figuring out what is the new normal.  When you Reset, what you thought meant something important to you may have changed. What seemed normal no longer seems useful to you. 

For many of us, it is hard to concentrate on our emotional needs when we are filled with anxiety and fear.  Use these next steps to reduce your anxiety first so that you can take care of yourself and the needs within.

  1. Reduce watching and listening to negative news.
  2. Enjoy family time with a feeling of gratitude. I understand it is difficult at times being under the same roof. Cooking, cleaning, teaching kids (homeschooling), video conference meetings, loud music, dogs barking. Once this is over you will realize that this was an opportune time to bond with each other. So make it happen now.
  3. Be in the present. Anxiety, worries, and fear come from thinking of what will happen in the future. Just live for the moment as life is precious and should not be taken for granted. 
  4. I find yoga, meditation, and most of all a good night’s sleep valuable to calm my mind.  Many apps and sites offer meditation sequences. 
  5. Practice gratitude. Gratitude for being you, for having the smallest of things. Gratitude for the frontline workers, researchers and so much more. 
  6. Exercise helps release your feel-good chemicals. If you are allowed to and it is safe then, walk, run, cycle with 6-foot social distancing in a non-crowded area while wearing a mask. Come home and wash your hands. 
  7. It is time to take on a new hobby, or even learn a new language. All the things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for. 
  8. Charity is giving. Giving makes you have a feeling of purpose and control. Donate to an organization, assist the elderly, support those who need your help. 

I keep asking myself what is troubling me. Is it the fear of my fragile life, that my loved ones or I am locked down at home? So many things keep flitting through my mind causing anxiety, but the best approach is to look at what I have and be thankful. Be in the moment. 

Geetanjali Arunkumar is a writer, artist, life coach. She is the author of ‘You Are the Cake’.

Healthy Ways to Gain Weight

Are you trying to gain weight? Trying to gain weight may seem like an easy problem to solve, however, healthily putting on weight may not be as easy as you think. So, whether you are underweight and want to reach a healthy weight or are trying to gain muscle, you need a balanced approach to gain weight.

As a general rule, you need to consume between 300 and 500 more calories than you burn to gain weight. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the number of calories they eat, or they misestimate it. This is where a weight gain calculator comes in handy. It helps you plan your meals properly with an adequate amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

What are the risks of being underweight?

Almost two-thirds of the US population is overweight or obese, which can lead to health problems. Similarly, being too skinny or underweight can also be unhealthy. If you have a BMI of less than 18.5, you are considered underweight (1). Not only does being underweight lower your self-esteem, but it can also lead to malnutrition and have a severe impact on your health. A diet that is very low in calories can cause fatigue, nausea, hair, and skin issues. When you are underweight, you can also develop a weakened immune system, osteoporosis (2), infertility, eating disorders, and developmental issues.

Causes of being underweight

There can be many reasons why a person is underweight (3). Sometimes there may be multiple related causes. Often medical conditions can also make a formerly healthy person to lose weight.

1. Family history

Some people have naturally low BMI that may run in their family. If a person has a high metabolism, he may not be able to gain much weight despite eating high calories foods. 

2. High levels of physical activity

Some people like sportspeople and athletes burn much more calories, and this may result in low body weight.

3. Infections

Parasites, tuberculosis, HIV, and other infectious diseases can make the body use most of its energy in fighting off these diseases, which may lead to drastic weight loss.

4. Diabetes

When people have diabetes, insufficient insulin levels prevent the body from getting glucose from the body’s cells to use as energy. The body then starts burning fat and muscle for energy, and this leads to weight loss issues.

5. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss.

6. Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can lead to weight loss. The body has an autoimmune response to gluten, and the small intestines are damaged, which affects the absorption of nutrients and causes weight loss.

7. Mental illness

Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can affect a person’s ability to eat. If you lose bodyweight drastically without making a change to your diet or exercise pattern, you may have one of these illnesses. Seek medical advice and follow a plan to gain weight healthily.

How to gain weight healthily?

Just like a weight loss program, a weight-gain program also needs a balanced approach. Eating calorie-dense junk food may lead to weight gain, but you may still have nutritional deficiencies. Here are some general tips for gaining weight safely –

1. Eat frequent meals

Eat three to five meals every day. Eating more meals makes it easier to take in additional calories. You can also increase the number of calories consumed by snacking between meals (4).

2. Add healthy calories

Eating healthy is not difficult. You can increase your overall calorie intake by adding nuts and seeds and cheese to your dishes. Add healthy side dishes. Whole grain toast, sunflower seeds, almonds, and fruits like bananas and avocados are some great options (5).

3. Eat enough protein

Our body uses protein to build lean muscle mass. The RDA for protein is 0.4g per pound of body weight. So if you’re trying to gain muscle mass, you should exceed this amount significantly. Some of the favorite calorie-dense high-protein foods include fattier cuts of beef, pork, and chicken. You can also include salmon and eggs in your diet. Peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts are also rich in proteins.

4. Consume healthy carbs

Avoid refined carbohydrates and go for whole-food sources of carbohydrates like brown rice, oats, and beans. Sweet potatoes and yams are also good for your diet. 

5. Eat healthy fats

Learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, and nuts, avocado, vegetable oils, and fish are rich sources of these fats. Unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. 

6. Weight training

Weight training is essential for healthy weight gain as it helps in gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass. You may need to modify your workout over time by increasing the weight or number of sets to continue gaining muscle mass. 

People who do weight training break down their exercise routines into specific muscle groups. Some of the leg building exercises include barbell squats, leg press, leg extensions, calf raises, leg curls, and barbell squats. Some of the upper body exercises include dumbbell pullovers, incline row, incline chest press, lateral raise, supine ventral raise, and side pullovers.

7. Cardio exercises

Many people who want to gain muscle try to avoid cardio. However, you must include these exercises into your routine as well. Cardio exercises are great for a healthy heart and lungs. Running, swimming, and walking are great ways to get some cardio exercise.

You can use a weight gain calculator

This weight gain calculator helps you to determine your daily calorie intake for your weight gain goal. You first need to input your age, gender, weight, and height. You then choose the number of meals you plan to eat per day. Since you have to eat more food during the day, it is advisable to divide your intake into more meals. 

The calorie boost option is available for those people who find it very difficult to gain weight. The activity level is based on three weight training sessions per week, with little or no cardio. Click on calculate to find out the number of calories you should eat in a day. The results also give you a break-up of the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that you should eat per meal and per day. As a general rule, only one-third of your fats should be from saturated fats.

How does this calculator work?

When you input all your details in the calculator, it estimates your daily maintenance level using the Mifflin St Jeor formula and adds a percentage of calories to the total (6).  The calculator then estimates the optimum levels of essential nutrients to ensure healthy weight gain. Your protein intake is calculated at 1.1 gram per pound of body weight. Around 30% of your intake should come from fats. The rest of your daily intake should come from carbohydrates.

Final thoughts

Being underweight can be extremely bad for your health. When you are underweight, you can also develop a weakened immune system, osteoporosis, infertility, eating disorders, and developmental issues. To reach a healthy weight, you must calculate how many calories you need to eat with a weight gain calculator. Plan a healthy and balanced diet that includes lean proteins, healthy carbs, and fats. You must also incorporate weight training and cardio exercises into your daily routine. 

Manveen Sibia had an illustrious career in journalism and writing. She is the mother of a super active 7-year-old. While chasing her around the house, she also finds time to pursue her passion for writing on parenting, education, health, fitness, and entertainment.


Disclaimer: This article is for general information purpose only. Please do not consider this as a substitute for qualified healthcare provider’s advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The Health Edit

With 2020 just a few weeks away, many of us have put broken resolutions firmly behind us. After all, what could be more promising than the prospect of a new year that offers renewed hope for health and happiness, just waiting to be unwrapped come January.

Don’t hold your breath.

Healthy habits don’t need a new year. Instead, take time out to kickstart a few simple changes in the run up to 2020. Twenty days can make a difference  –  some changes can actually be habit forming!

So be good to yourself – edit some bad health habits in five simple steps.

Move
Walk up a flight of stairs at least once a day or find time to walk at least 15 to 20 mins while listening to your favorite music. Go for a run around the block or on a treadmill; how about a 20 minute bike ride? Even a swim!

Sign up and go to that keep fit/exercise class you’ve been putting off or simply stretch for ten minutes.

Why not? Our bodies were meant to move!  The sedentary lifestyles we’ve adopted are compromising our health –   “excessive sitting” which most of us are guilty of, is linked to back pain, stress, arthritis, obesity and hypertension – and some more serious illnesses.

So, get physical – it’s our natural state. When was the last time you played fetch with your dog, or tag with your kids or danced round the kitchen table to music you love?

Shake your body out of its default stillness setting – and teach your mind to be still instead.

Cut the Carbs
Year end party food can be a minefield of sugar, salt and soda. Low carb diets work if you are disciplined over the long term – but it’s time to go cold turkey. What do you have to lose but weight, and a boost to your health if you are on the diabetic spectrum?

Just say no to rice, bread, potatoes, pasta and cereal, in the next twenty days – if you miss it that much go ahead – resume your refined carb fest in 2020, but you might surprise yourself by saying goodbye to carbs altogether if you jumpstart it now!

Salads and low carb veggies are a creative and fun alternative and, instead of sweeteners or added salt, simply try to enjoy the natural flavor of food.

Sleep More
Do you fall asleep in front of the TV? And take your cell phone and laptop to bed?

The ayes have it!

You know that using  electronic devices at bedtime deter and delay your natural body clock and makes it difficult to fall asleep because your mind is switched on. Skimping on sleep messes with your brain, body, and behavior.

So, create a bedtime routine for at least a week  – set a digital curfew, have a warm shower, read a book.

Repeat.

The science says your brain, heart, lungs, muscles  and stomach will thank you for it.

Dump the Junk
Make what you eat count.

Look through your home (and office) for your secret stash of cookies, chocolate or comfort food and just toss them out. The relief will be palpable, and your belly a little less bloated!
Say no to snacks, fried foods, sodas, and fruit juice and please don’t eat while standing or driving.
Instead of a TV dinner – sit down to at least one meal in your day and savor it!

Eat fresh

Small snacks will tide you over between mealtimes – a handful of nuts, sliced veggies, dried fruit or some cheese.

Try not to eat processed food that presents in a package. Eat clean. Stick to fresh food that won’t harm your health.

Drink more water.
Our body- 60% water. Blood – 90% water. Cartilage- 80% water.

We need water because hydration drives so many human functions that affect our physical and cognitive ability.

A 2% loss of total water content equals dehydration and will cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, bad breath, mood swings, body aches and headaches.

Most adults go through their day partially dehydrated – so if any of these symptoms seem familiar, fix it with a simple glass of water.

Get rid of “stuff’’
As you rid your body of toxins, tie it together with an end-of-year de-clutter.

Don’t go all Marie Kondo on your home unless you really want to – but start small – clean out a shelf, a closet or a room.

Giving a storage space some breathing room is uplifting for the soul and the space in question.

Why? The science says getting rid of stuff is a great de-stressor – it just feels good!
Having fewer things means having fewer choices and making fewer decisions – so you work more efficiently!

Productivity over picking up  – what’s not to love?

As 2019 draws to a close – go ahead and indulge in the inevitable bonanza of festivity, feasting and fun – but you may be in better shape to meet the aftermath of partying excess if you begin a health edit now.

A new year of change can begin at any time –  use the next twenty days to be good to yourself!

Meera Kymal s a contributing editor at India Currents.

image credits:
Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/Lazare-227551/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=332278″>Messan Edoh</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=332278″>Pixabay</a>

Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/LubosHouska-198496/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1212845″>Lubos Houska</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1212845″>Pixabay</a>

How to Build a Healthy Plate – Indian Style

Sukham Blog

My article  All That You Need to Know About Nutrition for South Asians introduced a framework to develop individualized, varied and nutritious meals that you would enjoy every day. This sequel provides suggestions to develop and sustain nutritious, healthy eating habits on a South Asian diet, distilled from conversations with Dr. Ranjita Misra, Editor of the 2nd edition of the AAPI Guide to Nutrition, Health and Diabetes, and Dr. Padmini Balagopal, Editor of its first edition. Dr. Balagopal – a Clinical Nutritionist with a commitment to community education in preventive health – is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) who practices both in the United States and in India.

This is a practical guide to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Dr. Balagopal recommends the ABCD approach: use Anthropometric, Biochemical Clinical testing as the starting point to develop your Diet plan. Anthropometric measurements include height, weight, BMI, weight-to-height ratio, and waist-to-hip ratio. Biochemical includes metabolic, blood chemistry and other tests your physician would order, and Clinic stands for the examination he or she would perform – blood pressure, reflexes, heart and lungs etc. These measures, a customized interview and your physician’s guidance provide the basis to develop and sustain a nutritious, healthy diet optimized for you and your health condition.

Drs. Misra and Balagopal stress the role of a lifestyle change. “People would do better to focus on all aspects of their health – the whole chakra – and not just their particular health condition,” says Dr. Balagopal.” Physical activity, relaxation and mental health are also critical.  “No diet is complete without physical activity, and chronic stress can create a lot of damage.” Meditation, exercise, yoga are essential supplements to your dietary plan.

How you implement your new diet is also critical. Dr. Misra suggests you begin where you are and make a series of small, incremental and sustainable changes to your diet. She points to rice as an example. Most Indians are used to and like white rice. “If I asked my dad to switch to brown or red rice, he would throw a hissy fit,” she says. Instead, start with an equal-parts mixture of rice and quinoa or millets (available in India and in some stores in the US).  If you must, have just a little white rice at the end of your meal to satisfy your palate. “Cut your portion sizes and eat in moderation”, she advises. Allow yourself to indulge once in a while. “Food should be an enjoyable experience and you don’t have to give up everything you like.” Train yourself to take a balanced approach. A small cup of ice cream for comfort food after a bad day is okay if it makes you feel better and helps with your mental wellbeing, as long as you get back on track the next day. “Be aware of what you eat!”  A slice of pizza once a week is better than one every day.

The first step in adapting the Dietary Guidelines for South-Asian cuisine is to address grains. Less processed is better. Use brown or red rice. Consider alternatives like quinoa, bulgur wheat, and millet as substitutes for rice, or use a combination; they provide more protein with less carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates “end up in the belly area” as triglycerides. If you must, have a very small quantity of white rice at the end of the meal to soothe your palate.  Many South Asians have hypertriglyceridemia resulting from high refined carbohydrates – the white rice factor. Use whole wheat flour for chappatis and rotis.  Ensure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Introduce more color in the diet. Fresh is best, frozen is the next alternative. Canned food should be a last resort.  Add non-fat or low-fat yogurt to your meal for probiotics that are good for digestion and gut bacteria. The DASH meal plan is a good model to follow, especially for low sodium diets. Eat at least three hours before going to bed to aid in digestion and keep your blood glucose in check.

A plant-based diet comprising fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is the ideal way to go. It is also consistent with the Sattvik diet described in the Bhagavad Gita and other Yoga Shatras.  Furthermore, studies have shown that the prescribed plant-based diet  diet can help prevent and treat diabetesheart disease, some cancershigh blood pressure, and other long-term conditions. A recent article provides evidence that this kind of diet  also helps with Crohn’s’s disease,  and it’s not difficult to reach the Guidelines’ goal of nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

‘Tadka,’ or ‘Oggarane’ – tempering – is a fundamental step in South Asian cooking; it provides those mouth-watering flavors by liberating essential oils in spices and condiments. Drs. Misra and Balagopal encourage this – we must enjoy our food – but urge us to minimize the quantity of oil, and suggest that canola and olive oil are better than other options, since they have lower trans- and saturated-fat content. Avoid saturated fats and limit ghee to occasional use. Avoid deep-fried food.  Above all, never reuse oil left over from deep frying. “When you heat oil to a certain temperature, it generates acrylamides – chemicals known to be carcinogenic,” Dr. Balagopal warns.

Another  essential key is portion control.  “Set your tummy thermostat to half-full and get up when you get there,” Dr. Balagopal urges. A high-fiber, whole-grain diet, while good for other reasons, also makes you feel fuller, and helps in this context.

We’ve given you a plate-full of suggestions to get started.  Future articles will focus on the health benefits of certain spices and condiments, and eating with chronic illnesses.

With sincere thanks to Anna Pelzer at Unsplash for the use of her beautiful photograph.

Sukham Blog – This is a monthly column focused on health and wellbeing.  

Mukund Acharya is a co-founder of Sukham, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in the Bay Area established to advocate for healthy aging within the South Asian community.  Sukham provides information, and access to resources on matters related to health and well-being, aging, life’s transitions including serious illness, palliative and hospice care, death in the family and bereavement. If you feel overcome by a crisis and are overwhelmed by Google searches, Sukham can provide curated resource help. To find out more, visit https://www.sukham.org, or contact the author at sukhaminfo@gmail.com.