Sunday evenings are never complete without the white/red pasta sauce dribbling from the corner of my child’s mouth. Available in different shapes and colors- spiral, cylindrical, tri-colored, cashew-shaped, bow-shaped or thread-like -pasta has etched its name forever in our hearts. I strike deals with my little munchkin mostly gambling on this wonder food which is when I started to explore the effects of eating pasta!
Pasta is one of the most-popular foods consumed by mankind today, but facts have it that its popularity declined somewhere in 2017 due to serious health and nutrition concerns raised over its consumption.
Cut the Calories Not the Carbs
Fats were our enemies a long time back and now we have added carbs too to this list. Every individual on a weight loss diet includes carbs in his/her ‘to avoid’ list. Pasta is a dish that primarily contains carbs and so, are we going to knock off pasta too from our menu?
Normally we accept/deny foods based on their ingredients and methods of preparation. History says that pasta was typically made using unleavened dough of durum wheat flour mixed with water/eggs, shaped into different forms and finally boiled/baked. Its even common to use rice flour instead of wheat for a unique taste and texture. Traditionally enriched pasta uses only certain parts of the wheat kernel which leaves it without the nutrients and the manufacturer finally adds nutrients such as iron and B vitamins to enhance nutritive values of the dish. The craze for whole grains has left manufacturers with no option but to make whole-wheat/whole grain pasta fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and other fibers as well. Some of these provide us with up to 25% of daily fiber requirements in one portion. When such healthier varieties are available it’s surprising to realize that demands declined in 2017 and makes us more curious to know the reason behind it.
What delights us is the cream, cheese, toppings and sauces that go with the pasta varieties. Any pasta seems incomplete without its trademark red/white sauce, seasonings and vegetables. Pasta can be the trademark of nutritious meals when prepared with the right proportion of all ingredients and eaten with portion control. Limit your intake to 1-1.5 cups of pasta and try to include as many veggies as possible in your order. If you are preparing it at home, you are the master of your pasta! Use little oil, include plenty of seasonal veggies and its recommended to prepare the sauces too at home to make your pasta as nutritious as possible. All of this not before choosing your pasta variety. Always go for whole wheat pasta as this contains twice the fiber in comparison to the white pasta. Eating white pasta too is not a sin and its ok to use refined flour once a while as the white flour-based pasta too is enriched with nutrients such as iron and folic acid.
Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates that releases energy slowly unlike sugars that go dashing with their energy release. It has lower glycemic index (GI) which helps against sudden shoot up of blood sugar levels. By pairing your pasta with nutrient-rich foods such as colorful veggies and beans, heart-healthy oils, protein-rich cheese and lean meats and antioxidant-rich tomato sauce you are notching nutritional intake up and adding not simply calories but health too to your meals.
Studies Too Support Consumption of Pasta for Health
Low GI foods are good for weight loss and to keep heart disease and type 2 diabetes under control. A study shows that people on a low-GI diet lost weight when they included pasta in their meals. Even the American Diabetes Association brands starchy food such as pasta as a part of a nutrient-rich diet for people with diabetes.
There are people who avoid eating pasta as they are onto a low-gluten diet but science shows that there is no advantage in eating a gluten-free diet unless you are allergic to gluten. Studies actually show that eating gluten-free pasta is expensive and less nutritious as they are low in fiber and protein but high in sugar and fat.
Mediterranean diet is said to have an excellent impact on health and pasta is one of the recommended foods that are present in this type of diet. They are the prime focus of this diet as they are tasty, cheap to prepare and include many of the recommended ingredients in its preparation. If you are interested to know more about the Mediterranean diet please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
After reading through all this if you are still confused whether pasta is a healthy meal option the answer is a ‘yes’ but only when you consume correct portions of the dish, prepare it in the nutritional way (with decreased cheese and cream) and enjoy it with some fruits and vegetables as sides.
Anxiety is a common trait in humans and it is a trait that makes us all more humane. Panicking when a loved one is late from office or getting worried about financial crunches during recession is common in each of our lives, at least in the lives of those who are responsible! But when anxiety becomes an everyday habit, we have got something to worry about really! Life is a bundle of surprises and expecting the unexpected is all its about. We must be ready to face whatever might come regardless of the results equipping ourselves with the courage, ability and determination for overcoming them. All of us sail through life indeed but how we handle the problems and issues determine how well we have lived our life. Some are calm even at the face of storm while some others break down at the slightest problem. Some are coolheaded while others are anxious. Your approach has a strong hold on your overall wellness.
Its good to be cool, relaxed and confident about how you handle things as relaxing is good for your body and mind. There are yoga classes, group meditations and mind-body calming approaches happening all around us and these services are increasing in popularity owing to increasing stress levels. Despite availability of external help there are a group of people who don’t wish to switch off their mind from the anxious to the relaxed mode any time during the day or night. According to a new research, individuals who are sensitive to shifts in negative emotion (moving from a relaxed state to one of fear) are likelier to feel anxious even during relaxation training. The research included 92 students of whom 32 of them suffered from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), 34 had major depressive disorder and 30 had neither of it. All the participants were made to perform a set of relaxation exercises before being asked to watch videos that could trigger fear or sadness. Post-session they were asked a list of questions to analyze their level of sensitivity based on their emotional cues. For example, some participants might find help from the relaxation session in dealing with the negative emotions triggered from the videos and some others might be uncomfortable from the emotions experienced after viewing the videos.
Once again the participants were taken through a relaxation session before being asked to fill a second questionnaire. The questions in the survey were designed with the intention of estimating the participant’s anxiety levels during the relaxation session. Researchers found that people with GAD were likelier to be sensitive to sharp spikes in emotions (at one time they would feel relaxed but all of a sudden, they would reach peak stress levels). Such sensitivity was usually linked to feeling anxious in the middle of a session designed to make a person feel relaxed. The study clearly shows that some people experience relaxation-induced anxiety, a phenomenon that happens when people become more anxious while undergoing relaxation training. GAD is common in those people whose brain areas involving emotion and behavior are overactive, brain chemicals involved in mood fluctuations are imbalanced, have a stressful/traumatic history, suffer from chronic diseases or have inherited the gene from parents. These people need support and encouragement to look beyond anxiety in life and face troubles with a spirited mind and an air of confidence.
According to researchers some people stay anxious to avoid startling fluctuations in anxiety levels but in reality, it is actually healthier for the person to experience such changes. These people are those that primarily require relaxation more than others. These techniques are designed to help people feel relaxed and not the other way around. Mindfulness training can also help people live in the present and be peaceful. So, people who feel that worrying about things prevents the worse from happening should stop acting that way. Read more about mindfulness by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com. Making yourself anxious to avoid disappointments fearing the worse doesn’t help but only makes one feel more miserable. Practically, most of our fears don’t become a reality but the thought that worrying has prevented it from happening encourages people to continue feeling anxious and this is not going to help in life.
It’s probably cereal for daily breakfast, a grilled sandwich for lunch and roti/sabji or simply salads for dinner. Since the early colonial era, much emphasis was not placed on breakfast and lunch while dinner was the main meal during which all individuals gathered together and sat down as a family. But again, it was nothing gala and pompous and discussions revolved about eating mostly. While the farmers and low-wage laborers ate an early dinner the rich intended to have it pretty late. But with the Industrial Revolution happening, people’s meal timings changed and individuals started to eagerly look forward to the one meal of the day in which all of them could sit down, enjoy and eat together as a family and it was none other than dinner. All these brought about changes to the food system and people started associating certain foods with certain meals. Early farmers worked hard in the field and had an extremely energy-rich meal but this had not changed and individuals during the Industrial Revolution too were eating the same meal as the farmer but their lives were pretty sedentary and meal timings were also late. People started suffering health problems including indigestion and this was when health advocates started looking out for healthier options that included vegetables and whole wheat-based foods. This paved way for the birth of breakfast cereal.
Seeing the Reality in Cereal
It was just like any other normal day in 1863 but James Caleb Jackson, a doctor, decided to put an end to the sicknesses caused due to improper food consumption and came up with the idea of cold cereal as an aid against infection. Sadly, his experimentation was not a success but this laid the foundation for John Harvey Kellogg who started making his version of granula from wheat flour, oatmeal and cornmeal. Granula indeed was the first manufactured breakfast cereal by Dr. Jackson that was not edible unless it was soaked overnight in milk. Competition leads to enmity and ‘granula’ became ‘granola’ in the hands of Kellogg. There has been no looking back since then for Harvey Kellogg and his like-minded brother William Kellogg who together have garnered a vast empire of a number of cereals and monetary power. In a time when bacon and sausages ruled the tables of American families for breakfast the invention of granola was a blessing in disguise for the public.
Cereal might be branded as one of the earliest introduced processed foods which has undergone mammoth transformation in the last century. The British and Irish people are the maximum consumers of this prized meal followed by Americans. Breakfast indeed is the most important meal of the day and it is only right that we don’t compromise on nutrients. Our lives have become too robotic and mankind doesn’t have the time to think on trivial things such as breakfast. All that we do is to take a bowl of cereal and pour a glass of hot/cold milk over it to grab a bite. It’s our work that decides our meal and not the other way around. Some don’t even have the time to eat a bowl of cereal that has ended up taking almost every color of the rainbow!
What started as a breakfast has now become a snack as people munch upon muesli and granola during evening hours! This might even become a marketing strategy as more than 30% Americans consume cereals for snacks and the British people welcome cereal consumption anytime with open hands. What started as a mixture of oatmeal, cornmeal and flour has ended up being one of the most sugar-rich and calorie-rich foods on our dining tables! Cereals are now healthy only if we choose the right ones to eat and in that case the breakfast cereal can add as much protein as your favored eggs, fiber as your oatmeal and calcium as a cup of yogurt. There are even those cereals marketed nowadays that brim of high sugar content but lack most of the protein and fiber content. We have even reached a state where people have started considering cereals as desserts in disguise.
Blinded by Ingredient Listings
Most of the cereals marketed today has some form of sugar mentioned as the second or third ingredient in the ingredient list. Even if there is whole grain the excess sugar can neutralize all the goodness of the cereal. Another horrible ingredient is sodium which has crawled into all our favorite processed foods making our waistlines bigger and our nutritional gains smaller. This makes porridge the best cereal for breakfast when there is no added salt or sugar to ruin its health! Muesli without added salt and sugar that contains different grains, fruits and nuts contributing to natural sweetness is also a recommended choice to start your day on a healthy note. Bran flakes are high in fiber and can be a good choice but taste-wise its not a great recommendation indeed! Cornflakes is the most famous of all but does not come at the top of the list as its low in fiber and cannot be a good wholegrain recommendation. The worst choices include muesli with added sugars, sugar-coated cornflakes, granola with dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and granola with chocolate (https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/breakfast-cereals-ranked-best-to-worst) that ruin all the goodness of whole grains and breakfast with excess sugar and calories.
Children too are attracted to these breakfast cereals as they come in all kinds of shapes and colors. But these are extremely unhealthy as they are processed, laden with sugar and missing any nutritive value. While whole grain might be an attraction as an ingredient it is overpowered by the presence of sugar, sodium, additives and other agents that push the cereal’s nutritive value down in the dumps. It is possible to buy cereal that is genuinely healthy but we would rather avoid it as those are the ones that are unprocessed, without much taste and boring as well. There are more than 340 breakfast cereals available in US alone and the varieties differ country-wise. A research on 60 different breakfast cereals targeted for kids showed that more than 2/3rd of them offered empty calories just like sugar. It depends on us to gain knowledge about the different breakfast cereals ruling the market and pick the right one that suits our needs finally.
Mind you, breakfast is not just a bowl of some yellow-colored corn kernels and a glass of milk. There is more to it! Enjoy your cereal and start the day on a healthy note to take you through the problems and hurdles that are yet to come your way.
Drop that Spoon! The Truth About Breakfast Cereals: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/nov/23/food-book-extract-felicity-lawrence
The First Breakfast Cereal Granula has to be Soaked Before Being Eaten: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-breakfast-cereal-granula-had-be-soaked-being-eaten-180962340/
Is Cereal healthy? https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/05/health/is-cereal-healthy-drayer/index.html
Advertisements and marketing hold critical roles in helping weight loss programs achieve great success and greater income. Popular among these are ads for weight management/loss that promise individuals 100% success without the restriction of a diet or strenuous exercise. Such ads might light upon rays of hope in some people but many are now aware that its far off from the actual truth. What if I am also going to promise you that you can burn calories without doing any exercise? All the more, what if I comment that even right now reading this article you are burning calories continuously?
Don’t Train but Entertain
Weight loss is the difference between calories consumed and calories burned, the latter being greater than the former. Obesity/overweight has become a global problem that’s reaping greater side effects due to negligence of individuals in controlling this epidemic. People have become lazier than before with the onset of scientific advancements and gadget power. They try using a shortcut for everything right from cooking to travelling. Cuisines, food availability and sources have expanded but ways to curb weight gain, limit food intake or increase activity have disappointed us. We take an oath to lose weight on Jan 1st of every year and the motive ends there. Gyms reap from thousands of subscriptions at the start of every year, fitness arenas witness booming business every month when someone or the other goes for a membership and even personal coaches are hired by few to help them achieve weight loss. But exercising isn’t everything. There are many more ways beyond sweating it out at the gym or doing Zumba that can facilitate calorie burning.
Standing or Sitting, you are Emitting Calories
Forget the dumbbells or the elliptical at the gym and first understand that breathing, seeing and even to keep our heart beating is an activity that requires a certain amount of energy to perform it. This energy is provided by the basal metabolic rate (BMR) which holds responsibility for almost 75% of the calories burned every day. Even a couch potato burns off a few calories by sitting on it and staring at the television while the sleeping beauty easily burns around 45-55 calories/hour while sleeping (Don’t fail to remember that these are only supportive ways and the main solution does remain as physical activity at any given point).
At the class or during a meeting it seems very disturbing for the people around when someone mindlessly keeps tapping their leg, swirling their pen or meddling with their finger ring-in short fidgeting-but this seems to be a smart way to burn calories without exercising. A study shows that such acts of fidgeting helps to burn up to 350 calories a day. But sadly, these kinds of actions were commonly observed in leaner individuals compared to obese ones. So, what exactly provokes a person to keep fidgeting? We are still stuck there without an answer but one thing is for sure-it’s extremely difficult to inculcate a habit of fidgeting in someone who doesn’t seem to already possess it. But for those who are proficient at it, it seems to help them learn better too! Surprising isn’t it?
The BMR differs from person to person but of course one cannot use it as a reason to blame for obesity/overweight issues. Ageing and weight loss usually slow down BMR while putting on muscle mass or falling sick increases BMR. Even thyroid problems and certain other medical conditions can impact a person’s BMR. Maybe that’s why a person who is the process of weight loss feels it harder to lose after shedding off a few kilograms and even ends up regaining lost weight sometimes. For guidance on losing weight, correcting certain illnesses and maintaining lost weight please get in touch with reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
Ideas to Burn Calories without Exercising
If exercising doesn’t excite you change your routine to accommodate other kinds of activities to burn calories without working out. For an idea some of them are listed below:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
+91 7846 800 800
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.