Diabetes inhibits the human body from making or properly using insulin and this ends up in high blood glucose or sugar levels in the blood. Balanced blood sugar levels, possible with nutritious foods and physical activity, is key for diabetes management. Once diagnosed with diabetes, seek the help of an RDN at www.firsteatright.com to provide medical nutrition therapy to help you fight the disease while maintaining your nutrients intake.
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?
Medical nutrition therapy includes:
Registered dietitian nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who have undergone multiple levels of training established by esteemed dietetic institutes. Most of the RDNs are generalists who cater to different nutritional requirements, but some of them are specialized in certain nutrition domains or own an advanced credential such as Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Such CDEs possess the skill set to help educate people with diabetes on managing the condition and improving the outcomes. A consultation with a CDE is highly recommended for people with complicated medical schedules, individuals on insulin pump or those who use a continuous glucose monitor to manage diabetes.
What Do Dietitians Do?
Before prescribing a diet chart, your dietitian will elaborate you on the positive effects of food and nutrition on your body to manage diabetes. Dietitians formulate a healthy diet plan keeping in mind individual food preferences, physical activity levels and the patient’s lifestyle and work hand in hand with the individual to set nutrition goals to improve health. All this is done after your dietitian thoroughly reviews your medications, blood sugar levels, recent hospitalizations, height and weight and blood pressure levels.
What Should I Expect?
Every client takes different time duration during his/her visit. The first visit may vary anywhere between 45 min and 90 min. Three to four subsequent visits are needed over the next three or six months depending on the medical condition or the weight concern of the person. After this, annual follow-ups are suggested to help the client regarding concerns about blood sugar management and eating habits. Don’t worry and leave it to the dietitian to fix appropriate follow-up schedules.
The goal of a dietitian’s treatment program for diabetes includes:
Though vitamins do not supply the body with energy, they are needed to convert food into energy. Some research suggests that intense activity level of athletes might increase their vitamin needs but medical institutes do not make any additional vitamin recommendations restricted to athletes. Vitamins do not improve your performance but reduced level of these nutrients will definitely affect your activities.
Further discussed are the role of vitamins and their Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine is responsible for the breakdown of carbs and proteins to produce energy. It is better to consume the prescribed amount of this vitamin as consuming more than the DRI does not appear to improve performance.
Riboflavin is indispensable for energy production and also takes part in red blood cell formation. Athletes need the DRI of this vitamin.
Niacin supports both anaerobic and aerobic performance. Too much or too little of this vitamin can shift your body’s use of energy from fat to carbohydrates or vice versa which might influence your performance.
Vitamin B6 takes part in more than 100 metabolic reactions in your body apart from being involved in the production of energy and hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Consuming less than the DRI can affect performance.
B12 is imperative for getting oxygen to tissues owing to its role in red blood cell formation. Vegan and vegetarian athletes should be extra cautious to get enough B12 into their body as this vitamin is found only in animal products and decreased levels of this vitamin can result in anemia. Such people should consume as much B12 from food as possible. Additional supplements or eating B12-fortified foods may also be needed.
Folate is critical for cell production, heart health and protection against birth defects. The recommended DRI is enough to fulfill the energy demands of athletes. Female athletes of childbearing age should include folate in their diet daily.
Vitamin C, the most famous antioxidant, is needed for multiple health benefits like protection from infection and damage to body cells, collagen (the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together) production, protection against bruising by keeping the capillary walls and blood vessels firm and helping in the absorption of iron and folate.
This vitamin is essential to breakdown fats, proteins and carbohydrates into usable energy. It is present in all plant and animal foods and hence, should be easy for athletes to meet their DRI for pantothenic acid.
Biotin is required for energy production.
Vitamin D is a hormone in reality and not a vitamin. Vitamin D, needed for bone health is produced by the body on adequate exposure to sunlight. Athletes who are training in weight-sensitive sports such as gymnastics, running or cycling should take extra care to fulfill the required DRI for this nutrient. Physicians might suggest vitamin D and or/calcium supplements for some athletes. You can also get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports nutrition at www.firsteatright.com to plan your diet along with vitamin supplements, if needed.
Indians personify Western culture and celebrate Valentine’s Day and even Halloween. We are well acquainted with names such as Sachin Tendulkar and Aishwarya Rai. But do we even know that the Government of India has dedicated a special day called ‘National Sports Day’ to respect athletes for their contribution to sports or are we aware of the existence of a hockey player called Dhyan Chand on whose honor this day has been established? It is a straightforward ‘NO’ for most of us.
Dhyan Chand, the hockey wizard, steered the Indian hockey team to win three Olympic medals and scored more than 400 goals in his 22-year career. He is the best sportsman our country has ever produced and it is no surprise that the Government has baptized his birthday (August 29th) as ‘National Sports Day’.
Nutrition is the backbone for any sports, strength sports or endurance sports. Sports nutrition primarily deals with the consumption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Diet can affect the performance quotient of a person drastically, especially when you exercise vigorously for more than 90 minutes. Athletes need a diet rich in the following nutrients:
Carbohydrates are the main power houses of energy for any person and specifically, for an athlete. Consume enough carbs before, during and after exercise to replenish your body with fuel, postpone exhaustion during exercise and enable rapid recovery after exercise. Plan your diet such that you get 70% of your energy from healthy carbohydrate sources such as breads, fruits, vegetables, cereals and pasta. Instead of picking sports drinks or energy bars, choose fresh fruits drinks or whole fruits for best results.
Proteins are indispensable for strong muscles and many teen athletes have the wrong assumption that protein foods are magic pills that automatically help muscles grow. But, the reality is that muscle growth is a complex process and involves many other factors. Athletes need only slightly increased amounts (1.7 grams) of protein that non-athletes (1.2 to 1.4 grams). Milk is an excellent choice to fulfill your protein needs as it also contains great carbohydrate content in it. Other protein sources include legumes, beans, eggs, lean meats, fish and nuts.
Fats are yet another finest source of energy. Athletes and non-athletes need moderate amounts of healthy fats to keep them energized. Choose anything between avocados, nuts, vegetable oil, olive oil and fatty fish.
Vitamins, Minerals & Iron
Vitamins and minerals help to utilize the energy acquired from carbs, fats and protein and also help in muscle relaxation and contraction. A well-balanced diet automatically fulfills the required vitamin and mineral needs of athletes.
Iron plays a vital role in carrying oxygen to all cells in our body and this oxygen is required to create energy in our muscle cells. Iron shortfalls, especially in women athletes who lose iron through menstruation, can prevent this process from happening smoothly. Try to consume healthy animal foods that are rich in iron along with vitamin C-rich foods such as red capsicum and citrus fruits as these foods help to increase the absorption of iron.
Exercise can leave an athlete sweating and dehydrated, hurting his/her performance. Athletes are required to drink fluids often and sometimes in between their performance or exercise. Chilled fluids are recommended as they are quickly absorbed by the body and help the body to cool down.
Want to Plan your Diet?
Athletes work hard and sweat out to perform their level best and make the nation proud. A healthy diet that triggers the peak performance of athletes is essential to bring out the full potential of our players. Though there are sports drinks, energy bars and nutritional supplements that claim to accelerate performance, the best way to provide your body with energy is to eat real healthy foods. A sports nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com is the right person who can help an athlete plan his/her diet chart with real foods after evaluating his/her body type, fitness quotient and training regimen.
Osteoporosis is associated with bone health. Sometimes called as the “silent disease”, it consists of weakened bones and increased fracture risk which carry no indications and the first indication comes only when a bone breaks. Bone fracture due to osteoporosis is common among half the women population and one in every four men who are above the age of 50.
Aiming for strong bones since childhood is the building block for bone health as a person ages. A healthy diet along with weight-bearing exercises since childhood ensures bone tissue formation and bone strength.
Bones, on the outside, may seem to be dull and dry, but on the inside, they are constantly under construction. While certain cells break down bone tissues, other cells use the calcium and nutrients from the food consumed to build new bones. Missing out on your physical activity or nutrient needs can result in weaker and less dense bones that are prone to fracture.
Calcium for Bone Strength
Calcium used to form new bones is important for bone health. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese, cereal, calcium-fortified soy milk, fruit juice, soybeans, dark leafy green vegetables and calcium-fortified tofu. Individuals in different age groups require different quantities of calcium:
While the requirements are clear, most of the children are not meeting their calcium needs. Calcium single-handedly cannot build bones but has to work with other nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium and fluoride to increase bone density and strength.
Supplements as a Food Replacement?
A supplement is a supplement and cannot be a replacement for food at any point of time. Lactose-intolerant individuals can try lactose-free milk and calcium-fortified foods. There are different varieties of lactose-free milk discussed at the website www.firsteatright.com and you can choose the one that best suits your requirements. It is better to discuss with your physician, especially if you are a woman in menopause or post-menopause, before taking calcium supplements with vitamin D.
A registered dietitian nutritionist is the right person to help you choose the best supplements for your bones along with healthy diet plans for overall health.
Prediabetes, a condition that raises the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, is prevalent in more than 77 million people in India.
Also referred to as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance, prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than the normal range but not high enough to be categorized as Type 2 diabetes. But, when untreated, this condition can develop into Type 2 diabetes within five years in almost 15 to 30 percent of people. A lifestyle change which involves healthy food choices, losing weight and increasing physical activity can assist you in bringing blood sugar levels to normal range.
The High-Risk Category People
There is no direct cause for prediabetes but excess body fat in the abdomen and inactivity are two key factors for this condition. Prediabetes can occur in individuals who are:
Effects of Prediabetes
In prediabetes stage, there might be decreased insulin production, decreased insulin sensitivity or a combination of both. Blood glucose levels depend on insulin and high blood glucose levels may lead to long-term effects associated with diabetes such as blindness, damage to nerves and kidneys and circulatory system problems.
Weight loss (if required) and physical activity are critical for managing prediabetes. Reduce your body weight by 7 percent. For example, 6.8 kg if your weight is 90.7 kg. Although this is not sufficient, it puts you in the right path for weight loss and balanced blood glucose levels and increases your sensitivity to insulin. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. Walking is the best option. Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking at least five times a week.
Follow a Balanced Diet
Ensure that you eat balanced meals at a disciplined time to assist in weight loss and blood glucose control. Glucose is present in carbs along with the sweetmeats that you eat. These carbohydrates affect your blood glucose levels and are also crucial for overall health by providing energy for your daily activities.
A healthy meal plan should include:
Millions of people around the world are suffering from eating disorders and the truth is that anyone can be affected. Any form of eating disorder might prove to be fatal and it is in the best interest of the patient to seek professional help. Such early interventions give hope for total recovery.
The Three Main Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the three main categories of eating disorder.
Symptoms that Define Every Disorder
Anorexia Nervosa: People with anorexia may display signs of:
Binge Eating Disorder: Along with any of the symptoms mentioned above, binge eating may be accompanied by symptoms such as:
Eating disorders act as constant stress factors and disrupt health in numerous ways. It can end up in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormone loss and electrolyte imbalances.
To overcome any of these eating disorders and to stay fit on a healthy weight, get in touch with an RDN at www.firsteatright.com.
Diabetes is a disorder wherein your blood sugar levels remain high over a prolonged period. This condition can be managed with proper medication, self-monitoring and lifestyle changes. Diabetic people have increased glucose levels because of too little insulin produced by the pancreas or the body does not accept or use the insulin produced, or a combination of both.
Diabetes requires maintaining blood sugar levels within a health range to stay in control of the disease. This can be done through healthy diet plans and physical activity. Some people might also require medication and insulin injections along with these lifestyle changes to keep diabetes in check.
Functionality of Insulin
Insulin, a hormone needed by cells to store and use energy from food, is liable for getting glucose into your cells. This does not happen in someone with diabetes as insulin is not able to fulfill its duty. So, glucose is not transferred to the cells and piles up in your blood. Increased glucose levels move through your entire body and damage cells all through their way.
Frequent urination, constant thirst, unconditional weight loss, tiredness, irritability, blurred vision, frequent illness or infection and poor circulation (tingling or numbness in the feet or hands) are common symptoms of diabetes.
If you ever feel like you have one or more of the symptoms listed above, consult a doctor immediately. A physician is the right person to diagnose diabetes after looking at the results of any of these blood tests:
While most of the people can control blood glucose levels by eating right, indulging in some physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, few others require medications or insulin injections to manage the relationship between glucose and insulin.
The best way to manage diabetes is to understand the impact of foods and nutrition on our body. You can seek the advice of a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to help you combat diabetes while helping you obtain all the nutrients required by your body to stay healthy.
Drive-thru restaurants have become famous in recent times as kids nowadays want food instantaneously, the moment they feel hungry. Studies indicate that children who eat fast food consume more calories than at home. Fast foods have high fat, sugar and sodium content and low fiber, vitamin and mineral content in them. This, along with excess energy may lead to insufficient nutrients in your meal.
Fast food meals for kids have gotten healthier, but these quick-serve food establishments remain a minefield of less-than-desirable choices. Taking children to fast food joints which have the most nutrient-rich options once a week is the smartest way to fulfill your kids’ desires.
The inviting aroma of freshly baked donuts or French fries may deter you from ordering cleverly; so be clear with what you are going to eat before ordering. Suggesting your kids to have fresh juice instead of soft drinks or ordering a salad or fruit bowl along with their meal will be a smart choice. The ultimate aim should be to give them a choice between two healthy snacks and not between samosa and sprouts.
Keep Yourself Well Informed
Many drive-thru restaurants nowadays give online information about the nutritional value of the food consumed. Having a glance at this would help choose wisely. But when unaware of these facts you can use your logic to avoid anything fried, dipped in dripping cheese or coated with sugar syrup. Given below are few healthy quick bites to choose from:
Child-size meals are a good choice for children as they are low in calories and contain small portion food items. It will be a good choice for the adults too to go for these meals as it would reduce calorie consumption by almost fifty percent.
Think Smart to Drink Smart
Toddlers and small children should be taught to drink plain water or coconut water to quench their thirst. Teenagers, who are always on their wheels may choose between soft drinks, fruit punch and hot-chocolate loaded with sugar. Do not defer these items completely off their list but reduce the portions consumed. Get to know the appropriate portion sizes for your kid from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Get Yourself Out of the Fast Food Rush
Planning your trip can help you avoid stopping at drive-thru restaurants often. Either you can stock healthy foods like roasted peanuts, plain rice puffs and masala chiwdas or for longer vacations, you can take a small icebox loaded with fruits, biscuits, veggies or sprouts in addition to your fast food meal.
Sustainability is one simple, yet strong term that is to be questioned upon when it comes to agriculture and how we eat. In agriculture, this word is used to term the production of food or other plant and animal products using farming techniques and practices that help to preserve natural resources with minimal impact made on the environment. Sustainable agriculture deals with producing healthful food without disrupting future generations’ ability to do the same.
Sustainable eating includes picking foods that are healthful to both, our body and our environment. It involves nourishing our body wholly and completely, providing pleasure but, at the same time preserving the food system for the future.
Why Take so much Pain for Sustainability?
We can benefit from multitudinous ways because of sustainable eating. Sustainable agriculture and eating are regenerative. They result in healthy, thriving individuals and communities, and better, more balanced ecosystems. Such practices ensure that:
Anyone can support sustainable farming by eating sustainably. The first step is to take note of your current eating habits, foods that you buy and the way in which you make a food decision. While this is only the beginning, there are many more things that can be done on your part to support good growing practices and smart food production.
Registered dietitian nutritionists recommend these tips to get started:
Purchase from local markets. Make it a rule to buy foods only from the local farmers market as these farmers are committed to their communities. Shopping at the local market is a pleasure as the farmers there are likely ‘neighbors.’ The money spent at the market stays in your community. RDNs mention the "local economic multiplier effect" — an often-referenced theory of the benefits a local economy receives when recirculating capital by sourcing locally. For instance, if every family in a state spent four hundred rupees a week at a farmers market, it would keep four crore rupees in the state, which may otherwise quickly move out of the state. Every rupee circulates three to seven times before moving out. The concept of farmers market, details of which can be fetched from www.firsteatright.com, is slowly becoming popular with people worldwide.
Grow your own garden. Grow anything from herbs in a pot to tomatoes on a patio or a small plot in your yard. There is nothing that can give you a better understanding of the food growing process that to grow on your own. By doing this, you get a clear picture of the numerous factors involved in making plants thrive, the effort needed to grow blooming plants and the complexity of the process involved. These will definitely affect the way in which you buy, use and dispose food.
Chat about food. Talk to anyone who pays attention to food, be it the farmers at your market, personnel at your grocery store and restauranteurs or other people who are as interested as you in discussing about the ways in which foods get on their plates. You may discover new tips, come across more local, sustainably-minded food producers and providers and learn about new resources.
Choose seasonal foods. Though October is not the season for mangoes, you can still buy it “fresh” during this month. This means that the product is coming from far, far away. So, try to eat foods that are available during every season where you live and you’ll be supporting sustainability.
Drink fresh water. It takes abundant fossil fuel to transport liquids, as these are some of the heaviest items to ship. Stay away from packaged waters and drinks as much as possible. By doing this, you save several natural resources that would otherwise be used for transportation and storage along with handling package waste.
Recheck grocery list. Go for bulk foods, more minimally processed foods and more plant-based foods. All these require less packaging and waste, less energy to produce certain foods and minimal artificial ingredients (those not found in nature) and chemicals in the food system.
Vote with your wallet and your fork. There is no better way than money in which you can affect the direction of our food system and what grocers, restauranteurs and food companies produce and sell. Request your food providers to support local farmers, local producers and sustainable agriculture. Show that you support them through your decision to buy food.
Health is not formed by the health care system nor does it happen by chance. It is what you cook and how you eat all through the year. Food is the connector in life and can elevate a person’s satisfaction levels in life. Knowing these principles, lend a supporting hand to sustainable agriculture and eat sustainably.
Menopause is the phase during which women undergo tremendous bodily changes. Hence, it is crucial that you take care of yourself by readjusting your lifestyle for the better. Eating right and being physically active will make this midlife transition easier.
ABCs of Menopause
Every woman faces this “change of life” during her last period. Women reach menopause at around 51 years of age, but it can happen sooner or later also. Symptoms also vary with every individual. While common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain around the middle, sleep disturbances and mood changes, some women are lucky enough to pass through this stage of life with no real symptoms.
The cause behind menopause: Hormones. Ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, two main hormones needed for reproduction, as a woman ages. Once estrogen levels start decreasing, an early sign of “menopausal transition” is irregular periods in which bleeding is unusually heavy or light. Also, the time between periods may become longer.
Menopause causes Weight Gain
Lowering hormone levels and the natural aging process make it difficult for women in their 40s and 50s to keep the extra kilograms off. Generally, women lose muscle and gain fat around the belly area predominantly. Lifestyle factors also play an important role as menopausal women tend to be less active and eat more calories than required.
There is much more to Menopausal Weight Gain than Low Self-Esteem
Weight gain does not make us feel any good and can cause low self-esteem and discomfort. But it does not stop with just this. The main disadvantages of weight gain are health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (a condition in which your body cannot use insulin correctly, which can lead to diabetes).
Avoiding a "Midlife Metabolic Crisis"
Strategize a plan well in advance for your body’s natural metabolic slowdown. As with anything in life, there is no shortcut route to weight loss. But, there are ways to avoid a midlife crisis when it comes to a slowing metabolism.
Infertility has become a serious issue worldwide. Though couples cannot curb all the causes of infertility, they can control their eating habits. Moreover, balanced nutrition and a healthy body weight for both partners are significant factors that have a lasting impact on the ability to conceive.
Women and Fertility
To adapt yourself for pregnancy and enhance fertility, it is recommended to maintain a healthy weight and consume foods that will nurture you and your baby in a healthful way for your baby’s nine-month stay in the womb.
Men and Fertility
Even male obesity levels can alter testosterone and other hormone levels which again boils down to the fact that men should also take care of their health and follow a nutrient-rich diet with regular exercise. Overweight and obese men have low sperm count and poor sperm motility. Consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help create strong sperm.
Stay Balanced on a Healthy Weight
Reducing and maintaining a healthy weight is the simple, yet best way to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Authentic report suggests that 30% of infertility cases are because of weight extremes, which tend to alter hormone levels and throw ovulation off schedule. In overweight women, even a 5% weight loss may improve fertility. On the contrary, underweight women with a body mass index below 18.5 (18.5 to 24.9 is normal) may have irregular menstrual cycles or may stop ovulating altogether. Also individuals participating in high-intensity exercises such as dancing or gymnastics and people having an eating disorder or following restricted diets are often at an increased risk.
Never choose crash diets that can completely deplete your body of nutrients it needs for pregnancy. It is best advised to stick to a healthy eating plan that works in your favor after consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com.
Reduce Ovulatory Infertility with Iron
Acclaimed studies suggest to choose a diet rich in iron content as in vegetables and supplements that may lower the risk of ovulatory infertility as followed up in the case of 18,500 female nurses trying to get pregnant. Ovulatory infertility is one of the causes of infertility that affects around 25 percent of infertile couples.
Iron-rich vegetarian food includes all types of beans, eggs, lentils, spinach, fortified cereals, long-grain enriched rice and whole grains. Consume citrus fruits, bell peppers or berries along with your meals to enhance vitamin C content for increased iron absorption.
The "Fertility Diet"
A research study in 2007 found that women with ovulatory infertility who followed the “fertility diet” had 66 percent reduced risk of ovulatory infertility and a 27 percent reduced risk of infertility from other factors compared to women who did not follow the diet accurately.
Women following the "fertility diet" chose:
In a nutshell, consuming healthy monounsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats, making at least half your grain intake as whole grains and eating calcium-rich foods like dairy will help you to fulfill your nutrient needs and promote a healthy weight.
Aromatic vegetables are used to enhance the flavor of soups, stews, sauces and other dishes worldwide. From mirepoix in France to refogado in Brazil, these aromatics are vegetables that are sought after for their deep, rounded flavor and aroma that arise when heated or crushed. Right from the very common garlic and onions to chilies and ginger, each vegetable comes with its own health benefits and cooking qualities that makes it unique.
Add more flavor to your meal with aromatics instead of increased fat, sugar or salt by following these tips.
Rabbit’s favorite carrots are power houses of beta carotene, which helps to regulate the immune system and reduce the age-related diseases. These natives of Asia and Middle East are a good source of fiber, vitamins C and B6 and potassium. Cooking carrots unleashes beta carotene for better absorption.
Celery is mostly neglected for its “negative-calorie” characteristic. Negative calories don’t exist in reality and if you are still doubtful about such negative-calorie foods, verify their non-existence at www.firsteatright.com. A cup of celery contains 15 calories and nutrients like vitamins A, C and K and potassium. Celery is also packed with quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting properties. You can either enjoy raw celery as a crunchy snack or cook it to release its deep, savory flavors.
Chili peppers, native to South and Central America, range from mild to fiery hot with the smaller peppers being generally hotter. This heat intensity is due to the presence of the chemical compound capsaicin, which aids in digestion. Bring on a spicy kick to salsas, sauces and entrees along with the nutritional boost of vitamins A and C by adding peppers.
Garlic, considered to be the most pungent of the alliums, can be eaten raw or cooked in salads, stir-fries, sauces and stews. Eating garlic regularly helps to reduce atherosclerosis and the risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. Again here, the phytochemical content in garlic helps to lower cholesterol and fights against cancer.
Ginger along with garlic and chili peppers is known as the holy trinity of flavors in culinary. Ginger, a native of Southeast Asia and India, is rich in antioxidants such as 6-gingerol, believed to be responsible for reducing nausea and symptoms of vertigo. With its signature spicy fragrance, ginger is used in both sweet and savory dishes for its nutritional content of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.
Leeks have a mild onion flavor and taste best when cooked. Leeks can be grilled, used in pasta dishes or can be used as the key ingredient in vichyssoise — a French-style potato soup. These aromatic leeks are a natural source of inulin, which supports good gut bacteria and are also great sources of vitamins A and C, folate and manganese.
Onions are an aromatic superstar and are invariably used in almost all the dishes. High concentrations of allyl sulphides in onions double duty fighting heart disease and cancer. Onions are also good sources of inulin, vitamin C, fiber, folate and manganese. Savor these sweet onions raw in salads and the pungent ones in stews, sauces or roasted.
Parsnips were used in ancient times in Europe to sweeten desserts before sugar became available. Parsnips are available all through the year but taste sweetest after a frost. These aromatics should be toasted and caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness and are good sources of vitamin C, folate and fibre. Smaller roots are more flavorful and tender.
These colorful bell peppers are a native to Central and South America and can be roasted, stir-fried or enjoyed raw. Green peppers ripen to red ones and become sweeter. Consuming one red pepper makes us armed with the day’s required vitamins A and C at only 30 calories. These peppers are a great choice for healthy skin and immune function.
Shallots, having a flavor between onion and garlic, were used to flavor French sauces traditionally. Shallots may be cooked whole, oven roasted or finely chopped to season salad dressings. Shallots are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese.
Scallions or spring onions have a sweet, delicate onion flavour. Enjoy these thin alliums raw in grain or potato salads and salsas. Thicker, more pungent scallions can be used in pasta dishes, omelettes and stir-fries.
Food additives, used since primeval times, enhance and preserve the taste, texture, nutrition and appearance of food. The purpose of food additives and preservatives have expanded in recent times. They are being added to prevent food-borne illness, enable movement of food from one geographic location to another without spoilage and for the efficient manufacture of products to consistently meet the quality demands in every batch. Food color additives are also increasing used to attract people with their colorful nature and are disadvantageous when used in huge quantities. To know more on the disadvantages of food color additives, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Let us get a glimpse of a few categories and ingredients used commonly in the food supply and their main roles as an additive.
pH Control Agents
Ingredients responsible for maintaining or controlling the acidity or alkalinity of foods are called pH control agents. Citric acid, acetic acid and sodium citrate used in gelatin, jams, ice cream and candies, lactic acid (acidity regulator) used in cheese-making and adipic acid found in bottled fruit-flavored drinks are common pH agents.
Anti-caking agents are added to powdered or granulated ingredients — such as powdered milks, egg mixes, sugar products, flours and baking mixes — to prevent lumping, caking or sticking. You can choose between any of these agents like calcium phosphates, silicon dioxide, silicates (calcium, aluminum and tricalcium) and stearic acid.
Emulsifiers help to keep oil and water-based mixtures blended over the course of the food product’s shelf life. Our day-to-day foods like vinaigrette dressings, milk and mayonnaise are standing examples of emulsions. Food supply contains emulsifiers like lecithin from egg yolk and soybean. Diacetyl tartaric acid ester of monoglycerides (DATEM) and sodium stearyl lactylate are commonly used emulsifiers in commercial bread doughs, artificial whipped creams and dried, liquid or frozen egg whites.
Retain the moistness in foods with humectants. Common humectants include glycerin, honey, sugar polyols (glycerol sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol) and propylene glycol found in candies, baked goods and salad dressings. Polyols also play the role of a low-calorie sweetening agent, particularly in chewing gums, candies and other low-calorie foods.
Stabilizers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents
These are widely used across many food product categories to increase viscosity and improve stability by preventing emulsions from separating, ice crystals from forming and ingredients from settling. Thickening agents can be starch-based agents like arrowroot, corn, potato and tapioca, or protein-based thickeners like collagen, egg whites and gelatin. Vegetable gums include guar, locust bean and xanthan gum. Alginic acid, alginates (sodium, potassium, calcium), agar-agar and carrageenan are polysaccharides derived from algae and seaweeds, while pectin is a polysaccharide originating from apple and citrus fruits.
Leavening agents, commonly used in sweets and savory products, are added to doughs and batters to increase the volume, shape and texture of baked goods. Common leavening agents include baking powder, beer, buttermilk, yeast, whey protein concentrate and yogurt which can be found in cakes, cookies, scones, muffles, biscuits, breads and soda breads.
Money, time and cooking talent do not ensure nutrition-rich food for your kids. This nutrition challenge magnifies when the kid is not feeling well. Parents become flustered unable to decide on the correct approach to provide the best care for their child’s growth and development. Be positive. You can handle this situation well and create a condition such that your child thrives even in the most serious health condition.
One Plan Multiple Benefits?
Every child is choosy about his/her food and this is applicable for children with chronic diseases too. The extent of nutrition care needed depends on various factors such as the child’s health condition, age, gender, treatment plans, activity levels and many other factors as well. But never follow suggestions given by your close friends or relatives regarding your child’s diet or dietary supplements from their personal experience as no single plan suits all children. For instance, some kids having cancer have trouble eating enough to remain on a healthy weight while some other children after cancer treatment are prone to become overweight or obese.
Medication Changes at Every Stage
Diseases of the digestive tract require different nutrition and medication needs at different stages of the disease. Let’s take the example of kids with cystic fibrosis. These children need digestive enzymes along with meals and snacks, but the quantity needed differs from case to case, and what worked for a kid in the past might need modifications as the child grows and food preferences change.
Get in Touch with an RDN
When children don’t consume sufficient amounts of food, it is better to address the issue immediately. This is because, even a small amount of weight loss or the absence of weight gain as expected can decrease growth and development of your child. Also, certain medications make the need of certain nutrients inevitable. In such situations, it is of utmost help to seek guidance of a registered dietitian nutritionist who can:
Spend Quality Time Together
Being confident about the nutrition choices and decisions taken as a team together is the best way to deal with the extra nutrition support that your child needs. Any doubts, fears or concerns should be brought to your RDN’s notice. Special feeding instructions, if needed, would be demonstrated by your RDN or health care provider.
Ensure that your child never feels left out. This can happen if the family spends time together only during dinner. Try to involve your family members in board games, take part in family rituals or spend family time in activities that do not involve food or meals.
Eating is a crucial part of our life and hence it is the duty of parents to make sure that their children are trained to make healthy choices even in their absence. The more a child keeps aging, the more number of meals and snacks he/she eats out. Growing up means more independence to kids today with outings involving friends, restaurant parties and sleepovers. Peer pressure, a commonly used word nowadays, can overpower a child’s personal food preferences in many situations.
A Child’s First School-Home
Home is the first foundation for any habit-good or bad. Habits formed at home will definitely reflect your outside preferences. Though peer pressure may influence your kid’s eating pattern, eating habits molded by family members are a powerful force as well. What the parents preach is mirrored in their child’s choices. But this should not lead to dictatorship or over strict behavior from parents as this might result in unhealthy obsessions or cravings with food or a distorted body image, caution highly eminent dietitians.
Learn to make Healthy Choices while Eating Out
You cannot give instructions on portion sizes while eating out. Huge portion sizes are a big threat to health-minded kids. Also, parents advise kids to complete whatever is on their plate without wasting a morsel. Such parents are unaware of the disadvantages of the ‘clean plate club’ jotted down at www.firsteatright.com. But make your kid understand that he/she need not follow this policy when eating out and insist that it is not mandatory to wipe their plate clean once they realize that they feel full. Ensure that you child is smart enough to choose healthy options when going out.
Set High Self-esteem to Chip off Eagle-eyed Peers
Though we make fun of overweight kids, we don’t mind asking them questions like “Are you on a diet?” when kids choose plain water over a can of soft drink, thereby making them feel awkward. But these statements will never deter the actions of a kid with a strong sense of self-esteem. Other kids might want to express their feelings about unhealthy comments or teases from friends or family members. A small gesture from your end to show your openness to remarks is enough for the kid to discuss these issues with you. Don’t forget to appreciate them for their good decisions.
Learn Something New from Every Situation
Every function, school program or friends outing is an opportunity for your child to practice balanced eating. With so many choices, it is not a sin to indulge in “sometimes” food along with your healthy food choices. Form a group with other parents of your child’s same age and discuss about promoting healthy food habits among your children in attractive and simple ways.
One cannot predict every situation beforehand. But you can anticipate common scenarios that may put your child under pressure and prepare your child to handle these situations. This becomes the stepping stone for your child to handle any situation with ease in your absence, setting the strong foundation for a successful future with healthy eating habits!
First year students are loaded with the typical college stressors such as finding suitable roommates, finding classes, making good friends and avoiding weight gain. While you cannot control all other factors, you can take every possible step to eat healthy, stay fit and keep your weight in check. Adjustments are inevitable during your college life, but it is not necessary to adjust your pant size too.
Though people caution against drastic weight gain during the first year of college, weight gain during and after college life is also true. Students are in the driver’s seat and it is in their hands to take every step possible to stop this weight gain.
Staying Away from Home
Registered dietitian nutritionists cite emotional stress as the primary reason for this weight gain. Most of the freshers are staying away from home for the first time in their lives and this paves way for unpredictable emotions. Stress, anxiety and homesickness are few such emotions that can end up in overeating. To curb such eating patterns, question yourself on the authenticity of your hunger. Are you eating simply out of boredom or to soothe yourself? If so, try to go for a brisk walk, take a small study break to chat with your friend or listen to some soothing music. If you are at the pinnacle of stress and anxiety, it is better to seek the help of an on-campus student counselor.
Never Stock your Favorite Junk Foods
Never stock any foods that you have a craving for. Late night studies and stress might lead you to binge eating of these foods. Try to keep some snacks that have a good mix of protein and carbohydrates. Apples with peanut butter, Greek yogurt and whole-grain cereal are smart snacking options.
Eat a Hearty Breakfast
Breakfast is essential to pep up your energy levels and metabolism. And moreover, people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat less through the rest of the day than those who have skipped their breakfast. Some quick breakfast options for college students include hard-boiled eggs and fruit, whole-grain toast with peanut butter, a low-fat granola bar and fruit or a whole-wheat cereal with fruits and nuts.
Choose Smart & Nutritious Foods
You can make positive or negative use of your dining hall. Along with high-calorie foods, most universities provide healthy options too. Healthy option includes anything that is boiled, broiled, baked or grilled. Stay away from buttered, fried foods and anything topped with creamy sauce.
Few more cafeteria meal options include:
Beverages Too Add Extra Calories
Don’t indulge in soft drinks or sodas regularly. They are full of sugar and pile up empty calories. Try to drink some plain water, a glass of milk or some fresh juice instead. Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Be on the Go
Though students wish to utilize their available time in studies, they must allocate time for some physical activity too. It helps any individual to control weight and come out of stress. Colleges nowadays have excellent fitness spaces available for students. It is up to the student to hit the gym for a workout or engage in less strenuous activities like walking or taking a bicycle to the classroom. You can tag along with a friend to the gym or encourage a healthy bicycle competition among your friends.
Speak to a Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you require outside help, check with your university if they offer nutrition counseling services. You can even contact nutritionist/dietitians at www.firsteatright.com, who are available for online consultations as per your convenience, to help you with a healthy diet chart for weight loss.
It’s a rare occurrence nowadays to find children with sparkling white teeth. Baby teeth help children to speak clearly and chew their food, while holding a place in the jaw for the permanent teeth that are still hiding under the gums. Remind your kids these benefits of healthy teeth additional to just their beautiful smiles. Registered dietitians/nutritionists and dental hygienists propose that poor oral hygiene at any age can impact overall health.
Don’t wait for the first tooth to erupt before starting on oral care for your child. Just a few days after the baby is born, a soft baby washcloth can be used to wipe the gums to clean off any plaque that may cause decay to the erupting tooth. Tooth decay or dental caries are small holes in our teeth caused by the bacteria in the mouth which form due to the sugar that we eat. These bacteria form acids that attack our tooth. This is especially common among children in the age group of 2-11 years as they don’t brush their teeth daily but regularly indulgence in sweets and candies. Healthy diet and a good oral hygiene is recommended to prevent tooth and gum problems throughout life. Try preparing captivating yet healthy recipes for your kids by referring to simple tips available at the website www.firsteatright.com to ward off cavity problems.
We always put our babies or toddlers to sleep with a milk bottle in their mouth. This is an excellent environment for the tooth-decay-causing bacteria to thrive and result in dental caries as breast milk or formula milk is stuck to the teeth or gums for prolonged periods during sleep.
As children grow up they are exposed to a huge variety of sweets and sticky foods which become their favourite snacks. Consuming these foods regularly is a sure indicator of developing dental caries:
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables stimulate the production of saliva which help to clean the mouth and make it less acidic thereby protecting the teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals or snacks also helps to prevent dental caries.
Though people generally advice against drinking water during a meal, sipping water during and after a meal helps to eliminate bacteria and prevent acid production. If the water is fluoridated, you are extra benefited as fluoride present in the water helps resist tooth decay by decreasing acid levels in the mouth and assisting in the repair of early decay.
India has naturally-occurring fluoride in water and hence water fluoridation is not practiced here as in countries like United States of America and Australia.
A good diet along with proper oral hygiene is required for proper dental health. Eat nutritious food and don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly for cleaning and check-ups while doing your part of brushing and flossing daily.
High blood sugar levels are synonymous with diabetes. Too little insulin produced in the pancreas, body not accepting or making use of the insulin produced or both these together can be reasons for diabetic patients to have increased blood glucose levels. It is possible to manage diabetes with an efficient health care team that holds responsibility for medical assistance, a healthy diet plan and physical activity.
India has more than 70 million people suffering from diabetes across all age groups with many more remaining undiagnosed. It is an irony that almost everyone knows someone suffering from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, due to excess weight gain, is the most common form of the disease which develops slowly over time. Diabetes is of great risk as it paves way for many other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and kidney, eye and nerve damage. While the cause for diabetes is not completely understood, experts feel that genetics, illness, overweight and aging are triggering factors. Food is not a cause but a cure for managing diabetes.
Insulin Availability & Sugar Levels
To completely understand diabetes, we first need to learn the relationship between insulin and glucose. Insulin allows glucose to pass through cells making it available to our body to use and store the energy.
Though pancreas secretes insulin, the insulin is either not used by the cells or the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin. This is characteristic of Type 2 diabetes. The restricted glucose builds up in the blood and a person having high glucose levels is termed to be having high blood sugar. Such high blood sugar levels travel through our body damaging the cells that cross their way.
If you doubt one or more of these symptoms in your body, please visit your physician immediately. You doctor is the right person to confirm diabetes using any of these tests given below:
Diabetic goals include:
Normal blood glucose levels include:
Although not predominantly found in India, celiac disease is becoming more prevalent in North India, as it is the wheat belt of the nation, compared to South India. To put it in simple terms, celiac disease is a lifelong condition that affects the lining of the small intestine preventing it from absorbing the food particles that are important for health. This condition is due to the consumption of gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Villi, present in the lining of the intestine, helps to absorb nutrients and when gluten-rich foods pass through the intestine, the immune system creates substances that damage the villi. This is the reason for the body’s inability to absorb nutrients properly resulting in undernourishment.
Celiac disease can occur at any stage of life with more women being diagnosed with the condition compared to men. Almost 83 percent of those with celiac disease are not diagnosed properly as there are various symptoms that vary from person to person. Symptoms may include diarrhea or constipation or some individuals may not have any trouble with stools.
Celiac disease is common in families where any of the other family members are diagnosed with the disease. Individuals with celiac disease are prone to gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas or indigestion, constipation, appetite changes, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, lactose intolerance, abnormal stools and unexplained weight loss (even normal weight or overweight is possible).
Additional symptoms include frequent bruises, depression, anxiety, fatigue, hair loss, itchy skin, missed menstrual cycles, nosebleeds, mouth ulcers, cramps and joint pains, seizure, retarded heights and numbness in the hands or feet.
Symptoms in children include defects in tooth enamel, tooth color changes, delayed puberty, nausea or vomiting, irritable and fussy behavior, constipation, diarrhea, fatty or foul-smelling stools, poor weight gain and retarded growth for their age.
A physician is the right person to confirm celiac disease after checking the symptoms, medical history and performing an examination. Your physician will ask you to take blood tests and biopsy tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Certain other people are intolerant or sensitive to gluten, but not to the extent of developing celiac disease. Common symptoms in such people include joint pain, abdominal pain, reflux, bloating, diarrhea and fatigue. Here, the villi are not damaged as in celiac disease.
Treatment for celiac disease is only diet modification. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Seeking the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com is the best way to ensure your dietary modifications to be successful.
Curious to know how your child fares for his/her age? Kids or teens cannot be categorized as “overweight” without tracking their body mass index (BMI). Growing kids need to gain weight and outgrow their clothing size. The best measure to gauge whether your child is healthy or not is to measure and maintain records of his/her BMI. This is what your pediatrician does too for your child’s growth chart.
Since early times pediatricians have been using height and growth measurements to compare the growth of your child with other children in the same age group. Nowadays, they use a tool called BMI, which estimates body fat depending on your child’s height and weight. Although BMI does not measure body fat, it indicates whether a person has excess fat and if the person’s risk factor for any disease is multi-fold. This is the most simple and cheap method to calculate your health quotient. All you need to calculate a person’s BMI are his/her weight, height and a simple calculator or an online tool.
How to Calculate your BMI?
BMI calculations are easy. Just use your calculator to derive BMI values using either of the two basic BMI formulas depending on your choice. After calculating the BMI, round it off to the nearest whole number.
BMI Classifications for Kids
While BMI alone is enough to categorize adults into different weight categories (underweight, normal, overweight or obese), the same is not feasible for children as their body fatness changes as they grow. Further, girls and boys have different body fatness measures and we are forced to use gender-specific criteria to evaluate BMI in kids.
While these values and classifications are for our reference, never use terms such as “overweight” or “obese” in front of your children. Rather stick to the basics of discussing about a healthy weight and a nutritious diet.
The Potential Use of a Growth Chart
One BMI calculation is not enough to classify your child’s weight category. Kids grow rapidly and their heights and weights change as they grow up. Therefore, pediatricians maintain a growth chart to track BMI over time. Also, athletic or muscular teens/children may have higher BMI values because of extra muscle mass. Don’t mistake it to be body fat instead.
Finally, BMI is a tool for screening weight problems and cannot be used to make a final diagnosis. It is better to meet a health care professional or a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com if you feel that your BMI values are slightly on the upper side. They are the right people to suggest healthy diet plans to lose weight, if needed.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.