Category Archives: Eat Out Eat Right

5 Simple Health Hacks for the Festive Season

It’s the season to be jolly. Yes, another year is coming to an end and we are well into the month of super-
sized celebrations. For most people, this is followed by a month of the blues and we wonder why our year got of to such a bad start.

Well, we at Beaming Health believe in enjoying ourselves when the opportunity arises, however, we do have a few tricks up our sleeves that we want to share with you. So clear your schedule for five minutes and reap the benefits over the years to come.

STAY CALORIE CONSCIOUS:

Before you skip ahead, let me tell you how I came to add this to our holiday commandment list. I am pretty conscious of picking the healthier option on a daily basis and our monthly fast food trip is no exception. I always picked the spicy paneer wrap with no mayo at a popular fast food joint and though I factored in the deep fried element (the panner pieces) I was pretty confident of making a fairly smart choice. That’s till I started tracking my calories on a whim. My smart choice was apparently costing me close to 800 calories!

No, I’m not going to tell you that you should skip the holiday treats, no way. What I did was I counted that wrap as my treat and adjusted my other small indulgences for the day/week, ensuring that I got to keep my cake and eat it too.

Basically, being calorie consciousness is not the same as calorie counting. You don’t have to count every bite that goes into your mouth, but just like you budget your finances for the festive season, budget your consumption and you’ll be good to go. A simple app on your phone like My Fitness Pal should suffice. After all no one wants to start the New year broke and bloated.

INCREASE YOUR FIBRE INTAKE:

Since you know that you’re going to be indulging a lot more this season, try and make the few non-party meals a little more healthy. Let these meals work for you, so that you can relax during the celebrations. Increasing your fibre intake is a simple way to start. Fibre makes you feel fuller for longer, tricks your body into thinking that you have eaten more than you actually have, slows the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and even reduces cholesterol levels. It also helps cleanse your gut and colon. The simplest way to make this change is to add fibre into two, or at least one meal, during the day. Have a bran or oatmeal option for breakfast or add a green leafy salad to your lunch.

Remember, all fibre is not equal and you have to be aware of the individual benefits of soluble and insoluble fibre to get the most out of this magic ingredient. Read this simple and quick guide for more information.

SIP ON FLAVOURED WATER OR HERBAL TEAS:

This one is pretty obvious. More water means milder or no handovers, a fuller stomach and fresh dewy skin. Since it’s not very tempting to keep downing glasses of water throughout the day, try having a jug of fresh fruit flavoured water on your table or a bottle in your bag. Check out a few recipes here or make your own. These look so good, they may even tempt you to keep refilling.

Stock up on nicely flavoured herbal and fruit infusions that you can dunk in a mug of hot water every few hours. Specific flavours even have special benefits. Best of all add a mug of green tea as your after meal drink of choice. As far as possible avoid strong caffeinated and aerated drinks as these act as mild diuretics and can lead to a feeling of being dehydrated. Most importantly, don’t go for the pre-packed flavoured waters or iced teas. These are full of preservatives, artificial flavours and sugar. You’ll be better off drinking just plain water.

PICK  A SMART PARTY SNACK:

Most party snacks are heavy on the calories, but we all tend to reach for the munchies when we mingle. A simple way to feel fuller a little faster is to choose a protein based snack over a carbohydrate heavy snack. For example, a handful of nuts is preferable to a handful of chips. A piece of cheese is a smarter choice than some deep fried pakodas. Stay smart and don’t deny yourself too much, you’ll be sure to enjoy the party and the next day.

TAKE 2 GLASSES:

If you choose to drink alcohol, alternate it with a glass of water. This way you’ll avoid a killer hangover and cut back on mindless drinking. Enough said.

So that’s it, our simple but sneaky tips to enjoying the holidays and the days and months to follow. Wishing all our readers a very happy festive season. Don’t forget to share your party season health hacks in the comments below, like they say sharing is caring.


About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety or partly without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

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The ‘No’ Deprivation ‘Diet’

Last week, a friend of mine started telling me about this juice diet. Halfway through her sentence, my first I thought was ‘I love juice, so I can do it’. My second thought was ‘ but I love food too, so I can’t do it’. Her next sentence put my mind at rest. Apparently, you are encouraged to have this drink as a replacement for a meal or with a healthy meal, your option. I obviously will go for the healthy meal with the juice option.

This incident put me in a mind of a fact that we have all been long aware of. Unfortunately not many of us want to admit it, since it doesn’t sound magical or drastic enough. The simple fact here is that most diets get us to deprive ourselves of all treats (good for you but oh! so tough) or cut out certain food groups altogether (extreme and not so good for you). This is a tad difficult to maintain in the long run, unless you have the willpower of a dictator.

The easier way to go, would be to add in certain foods along with your healthy diet. In a manner of speaking, we are playing a mind game with our bodies. You can eat everything as before, just make sure you eat more of this. Adding in fiber and healthy nutritious liquids, will ensure that you have a healthy system, while having less space to stuff in your regular indulgences.

I’m starting with a pre-lunch soup and a vegetable juice before dinner. This has got to be the easiest way to get fit and balance those holiday indulgences. I’m sure you’re tempted to join me, so here are a few pointers to keep you on track:

  • Make sure that the food you are adding in is really good for you. For example, a glass of carrot juice loaded with sugar will not help
  • Finish your targeted ‘good food’ before you move on to the other stuff  
  • Since there’s no deprivation here, it’s best not to have ‘off’ days for the first month or three (till it’s natural for you to eat this way)
  • Don’t replace your whole day’s usual intake with salads, soups and fruit juices. I’m asking you to add some lettuce to every meal of the day, not turn into a temporary rabbit and live only on lettuce

Let me know how you plan to eat more and get fit. I’m rooting for you (and me).

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

An Ode to the Tender Coconut

Did you know that the liquid from a sealed tender coconut is pure enough to be injected into the human blood stream? In fact tender coconut water has the same electrolyte balance as blood and therefore it can be used as an emergency substitute for Plasma. Many a soldier’s life has been saved thanks to the humble tender coconut.

However, what we are talking about here is a lot more mundane. It’s more about quenching thirst in the summer heat. Those dog days are upon us, and in the scorching heat of summer the tendency is always to reach out for an ice cold soft drink or an ice cream. You gulp it down, enjoying the cool feel of the bottle, and the liquid pouring down your throat, only to find yourself doubly hot and thirsty just moments after you have had your drink.

Your average “cool” drink is extremely high in calories. Most of them are close to 100 calories per large glass. It is in fact, pure sugar water, which is why it leaves you feeling thirsty. It has the added disadvantages of harming your teeth and creating gastric disturbances.

If you are thirsty after sport, or due to the heat, your best possible drink is plain water. Even if you are not thirsty, make sure you drink at least 8-10 glasses a day. When you are working out in the heat, I’m sure that you have been told that you need to replace the water, salt and sugar that your body loses. You have probably been told that you need to have one of the several sports drinks available in the market. They are a great idea if you are running a marathon in the heat and have been doing prolonged high impact exercise for more than 2 hours at a stretch.  Alternatively, if you are lucky to lay your hands on a tender coconut instead, go for it. Tender coconuts are rich in sugar, salt and potassium in the perfect balance that the body requires. Moreover, they are much lower in calories than any manufactured drink.

Before a work out, there is a widespread belief that you need a protein or carbohydrate drink that comes out of an expensive tin. How about trying a simple banana instead? Yet another food that will supply you with all the calories you need for your work out, as well as sugar, salt, potassium and some fibre. There has to be a reason why monkeys are so athletic right?

Canned fruit juices are a great idea if you are looking to them as a substitute for alcohol or a dessert, However they are not a great source of nutrition, since they are way too high in sugar and preservatives. In fact, they are largely empty calories. You would be doing your body a huge favour if you drank fresh homemade juice, without sugar, or even better ate the whole fruit, as that way you’ll get the fibre too.

In India we are lucky. Every street corner has a vendor selling fresh tender coconut water. It’s cheap, healthy and tastes delightful. Go for it. Treat yourself to one every day, and watch the improvement in your hair, skin and in fact your entire system.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

 

Treasures in the Kitchen

From the beginning of time, Indian cuisine has always been associated with the word “spicy”. The word itself rolls of the tongue in a variety of ways – spicy, as in mouth watering and delicious, or else spicy with a tinge of guilt, rather like a forbidden delight, or best of all just as a matter of fact – spicy is how Indian food is. We have eaten it this way for centuries, and it certainly has not harmed any of us, so maybe it’s not so bad? Perhaps it’s even quite good for us! Now this is where the conversation gets interesting.

In actual fact, most of the common spices found in the kitchen are among the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants being, of course, our greatest allies in the war against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. They can even slow the aging process (let’s see anyone say ‘no’ to that).

Unfortunately, as pizzas and burgers become easier and hipper to eat, the average Indian is consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates and fat, cooked with very little spice; rather than the traditional Indian fare that includes a lot of vegetables, having large doses of fiber, cooked with hand ground spices. Preventive medicine has clearly established that almost all spices contain chemical compositions that have profound health benefits, which help to protect the body from numerous illnesses and, in many cases, act as effective treatments for established diseases. In addition, some spices also have chemicals that induce a “feel good” factor, with pepper being a great example.

In terms of their preventive health benefits, there are a few spices you don’t want to miss. Cinnamon, clove, ginger and garlic are great antioxidants, while mustard, turmeric and black pepper ward off the big ‘C’, cancer. Fenugreek and coriander are a great help if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high, while cloves and cinnamon are a boon to diabetics.

The only time when spices begin to harm you are when they are cooked with too much oil to make a rich curry or biryani. Obviously, the culprit here is the excessive use of oil, not the spices.

The best part about using spices as preventive medicine is that there are absolutely no side effects, and they are not really “medicines”. So when someone invites you over for a spicy meal, please accept. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Eat Right When You Eat Out – The Food Court

It’s easy to hand out advice on living the right lifestyle but what about following up on it. With this in mind I convinced my husband to make a simple change, eating right while eating out. Given our sedentary and highly stressful lifestyles, most of us take a break by going out to eat, either on the weekends or as a mid-week break. In our family, we occasionally tend to do both. We also can’t afford to eat at the best restaurants on every outing, where the chef is willing to make food to suit our specific requirements. So join us as we experiment with food outside our home. 

You know those days when you need to hit the mall for a number of reasons, including shopping for the festive season. With me these are days when I can very easily fall of the healthy eating plan.

I mean come on, first you walk for hours carrying heavy bags and second when you decide to get a bite your senses are assailed by the multitude of smells from the food court. Fried and sugary foods abound, while the long waiting lines and hungry kids, just make you more and more desperate, till finally  you grab a burger or vada pav and a milkshake or aerated drink and stuff yourself silly.The supposedly healthy options are also heavily processed or greasy in their fast food avatars, as I have learnt the hard way. Plus, no way is the harassed guy in the food court going to customize his menu to suit your requirements (less oil, less salt, no ajinomoto).

Well, this month considering that we are already in full preparation mode for the festive season, we decided to help you with the food court dilemma. The aim of our experiment was to cut back on the sugary and fried foods,  while upping the fiber levels and ensuring that we had enough energy to stay on our feet for the post lunch round of shopping.

To prevent the initial sugar crash that causes us to crave everything in sight, we had a tomato juice (without the seeds and with Tabasco sauce) about half an hour before our usual lunch time. This gave us enough time to get in one more round of shopping before the lunchtime crowds hit, as well as, enough energy to comfortably review the options available in the food court. The juice also kept us hydrated so that we didn’t mistake thirst for hunger and overeat.

For our second course we were tempted by the fragrance of the steaming corn that a vendor  had ready. We got a helping each with spice and lemon, while skipping the margarine and salt. Though corn is a source of carbohydrates, it’s also high in fiber and really made us feel like we had had a filling main course.

Though we had decided to skip dessert, we did have a third course an hour later. We were passing a chaat stall and both of us really enjoy our street food. To stick to our diet we opted for paani poori with a filling of bean sprouts and chopped onions. Though the pooris are fried, they are extremely thin (and dry) and the protein rich filling helped to round off our meal and make it a balanced one. We also went light on the sweet chutney.

The best part of the meal was that we didn’t have to fight for space in the crowded food court and we beat all the waiting lines. So what did we learn?

  • Start half an hour before you expect to get hungry with a vegetable or low sugar/ low calorie fruit juice. A few suggestions are – tomato, carrot, a mix of cucumber and some other fruit, watermelon, pineapple or pomegranate. Specify no sugar or syrup to the guy making your juice. Avoid smoothies unless you know that there are no hidden calories or sugars. For example,  ice-creams, sweetened yoghurt, flavored syrups, tinned or frozen sugary fruit pulp are common ingredients in most store bought smoothies.
  • Add in a fresh fruit salad (no sugar or syrup added), if you have access to this. We didn’t though I would have loved some fresh juicy fruit. It also heads of the dessert craving.
  • Have a fibrous main course that is preferably steamed or baked. Alternatively, a complex carbohydrate like a baked potato, if you are comfortable with it, also works.
  • Add on more courses if you are hungry, maybe a protein rich option such as grilled cottage cheese or tofu.
  • Stay hydrated so that you don’t get tired or mistake thirst for hunger.
  • Be aware of sugars, oil and excessive salt.

Most importantly, choose foods that you enjoy, after all it is your day out.

How do you handle meals at a food court? Do you prefer smaller snack type options or do you need a large sit down meal after hours of shopping?

P.S. – You can check out part 1 of this series – Eat Right When You Eat Out – Indian Chinese

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3 

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Eat Right When You Eat Out – Indian Chinese

It’s easy to hand out advice on living the right lifestyle but what about following up on it. With this in mind I convinced my husband to make a simple change, eating right while eating out. Given our sedentary and highly stressful lifestyles, most of us take a break by going out to eat, either on the weekends or as a mid-week break. In our family, we occasionally tend to do both. We also can’t afford to eat at the best restaurants on every outing, where the chef is willing to make food to suit our specific requirements.

So how do you eat right when you eat out?

That is the question we asked ourselves and started our own local project. This series will track our efforts to eat right, given the existing and easily available dining out options in our city. Every post will give you an idea of the dishes we ordered, as well as, an idea of how tasty, or not, our meal was. We are not experts on nutrition or dietitians by profession, so there will be no calorie counting or diet advice. Just a couple of stressed out workaholics trying to do the right thing, while having a good meal.

Most days of the week we get a salad, for lunch, from a popular international salad chain. Today, however, I had a mild sniffle and was craving something hot and that’s when we decided to have Indian-Chinese. I was most definitely not going to sacrifice my diet, while having a good ten kgs to lose, post my hormonal imbalance issue, and so the experiment started.

We walked in to a standard issue restaurant chain serving Indian-Chinese, and started skimming the menu.

I decided to go with the safe but tasty Vegetable Tom Yum soup, while my husband picked the Chicken Garlic Soup. Now both were clear soups, so they fit in with our diet. We added a Chinese Salad and Mushroom Pepper Salt as starters. For the main course my husband wanted chicken and the steward courteously agreed to replace the fried chicken in his dish with a steamed version. I settled on a Stir Fried Vegetable dry (no corn starchy gravy for me).

Generally when we order at Chinese restaurants we specify the following “No Ajinomoto (MSG), minimum oil and less salt”. The soup arrived, pretty quickly and it was piping hot, without an oily film on top, which was a relief. While, the Chicken Garlic soup had just the right bit of lemongrass flavour, the Vegetable Tom Yum was tasty but had a distinct curry flavour with the coriander and tumeric being pretty strong. The Stir Fried Vegetable was a pleasant surprise. It was tasty with absolutely no oily residue and pretty salad-like in look and feel. We had forgotten that the mushroom would be fried when we ordered it and to the chef’s credit he had used the minimum possible oil, and still managed to make it tasty with a lot of spicy freshly crushed pepper. The Chinese Salad was the last to arrive and it was basically Kimchi (which used to be complimentary at most Chinese restaurants) with a larger variety of vegetables. The only downside to the salad was, it had some crispy fried stuff sprinkled on top, which I ate quite a bit of.

Our Take:

First having a fairly healthy Indian Chinese meal is possible, though it requires a bit of effort to check what goes into the dishes. In the future, we need to check portions sizes before ordering. In this case, the portions were quite large and we should have stuck to a soup each and two dishes apart from that. To make the meal really healthy, we could have skipped the fried mushrooms, as well as the crispy fried additions to the Salad. Given this assessment, here’s how I rate the experience on a range of 1-5, (with 1 being extremely poor and 5 being excellent):

Taste : 4

Quality of Food/Ingredients: 3

Health Factor: 2 (Two fried dishes was not a good idea – the mushrooms and the salad topping)

Total: 5/10

Our tips for a healthy Indian-Chinese meal:

  • Be sure to lose the deep fried stuff
  • Remember to always specify “No Ajinomoto (MSG), minimum oil and less salt.”
  • Choose a clear soup

See you next month and be sure to recommend different cuisines or dishes for us to try. You can even write to us about your healthy eating experiences.

P.S. – I did have a fat-free (not sugar free) chocolate sorbet, after the meal, at a popular ice-cream parlour. But this is a health blog and I have to keep my secrets.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasional puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1 (Since I’m not a food blogger, I forgot to take pictures.)

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle