Questions? Look here.

Since childhood I am very fond of eating curd in various forms. I also consume curd at night because I read on internet that it promotes digestion. Kindly suggest if I am doing the right thing or not. (Sapandeep Singh, Jalandhar)

One general rule cannot be applied on everyone, especially if you are prone to cough, cold and mucus development. However curd has good bacteria which promote digestion. Also presence of calcium in curd endorses strong teeth and bones. Consuming curd can also help in preventing bloating I the morning. One should reflect upon one’s body’s tendencies and patterns before arriving at a conclusion. Nevertheless it is strongly recommended that one does not blindly follow a thumb rule and consult a diet expert before adding or eliminating the consumption of curd at night time.

I recently got a full body check up done and I was informed that I have Grade 1 fatty liver. I occasionally consume alcohol and eat out most of the time. Kindly suggest if the damage can be reversed or managed in an effective way. (Rakesh Batra, Ludhiana)

In most of the cases of fatty liver, poorly managed diet is the main culprit. Consumption of alcohol, tobacco, foods rich in carbohydrates and high sugar content foods should be avoided. Avoid eating out as much as possible and increase your daily water intake. Indulge in fresh greens and low carb foods because liver converts excess carbohydrates into fat hence causing fatty liver. Also eliminate white flour (maida) from routine consumption. Most importantly exercise well and stay happy.

From the past many years, onset of winter season results in increased allergies such as nasal inflammation and throat related problems. I have tried medication but don’t want to become dependent on medication. Can you suggest some foods for fighting and preventing allergies? (Harsheen Kaur - Jalandhar)

Allergies are common during change in weather as body takes time to adapt to the change, hence bringing down the immunity to some extent. While there is no cure for allergies except rest, proper nutrition can help reduce chance of catching allergies. Do consider adding fruit and fresh produce that fights and lowers histamines – such as pineapple, kiwi, onions. Minimise the consumption of processed foods and packed beverages. The presence of various chemicals such as quercetin and bromelain works as an anti-histamine. Staying hydrated also plays a vital role in boosting immunity and bringing down allergies. Adding vitamin rich foods especially Vitamin C and E in routine diet has also proven to be beneficial for preventing allergies.

Wedding bells have not been music to my weight goals. I indulged in partying and binge eating and have put on weight. My friends came across many diet plans on the internet such as GM diet that promises quick weight loss. Is it safe? (Rohtesh Kumar - Noida)

First thing first, relax. Two, one wouldn’t consult internet for a heart ailment, would one? Similarly, it is of utmost importance to not take diet planning seriously. Each body type would need a specific set of elements to maintain weight. Following a plan blindly can not only be ineffective but can also deprive body of vital nutrients hence resulting in serious ailments over a short period of time. Consult a professional to help you with weight maintenance. Happy living!

My mother is afflicted with severe arthritis for past many years now and is experiencing elevated problems as of recently. Can you please suggest dietary precautions to be taken in routine in order to prevent aggravation of symptoms? - Renuka Singh (Ludhiana)

If managed properly, arthritis can be managed efficiently with diet control. I’d recommend she should assure inclusion of foods rich in flavonoids as they aid in alleviating inflammation. For instance, commonly known things include green tea, grapes, broccoli, berries and soy. However she should consume these in moderation for them to deliver results. Fibre rich foods and whole grains also are favoured in cases of intense arthritis. If beliefs permit, she may consume fish that is rich in Omega 3, for vegetarians, Chia seeds are a favourite for the purpose. Things including red meat, excessive sugary items and dairy are to kept minimal, if not avoided totally.

My brother met with an accident had underwent surgery for his ankle, his recovery however has been slow. We have been suggested to consult a dietician. Can you please suggest some things to be taken care of? - Prabjhot Chawla

In cases of post-operative individuals, it is advisable to include high protein foods items such as eggs, dairy, meat, seafood and low fat cheese. For those who are vegetarian, choices may include beans, nuts, grains, soy, quinoa, etc. Peanut butter happens to be another famous choice for the said purpose. Also assure inclusion of foods items rich in Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D and Calcium. Usually patients are prescribed with pain killers and other medicines which might cause constipation, hence high concentration of fibre in diet is strongly advised. I wish him a speedy recovery.

I am in marketing profile work and spend most of the day traveling. During sudden bursts of hunger, I tend to eat more sweets and sugary snacks as an instant boost for energy, especially during winter. Please suggest some healthy alternatives so that I don’t end up harming health. (Jaskaran Singh - Bathinda)

People indeed tend to consume more sugary items during winter, especially those in profiles such as yours. However, indulging more in sugary snacking can not only result in weight gain issues but can also cause sudden spikes in blood glucose levels, hence causing damage to well-being in longer run. I strongly suggest that you replace the artificially sweetened foods with dry fruit such as dates, raisins, etc. Also for those who are on the move, carrying a small portion of fruit also comes handy. This not only provides for the sugar demand but also supplies other vital nutrients that otherwise get neglected in fast paced lives.

With winters kicking in and temperature dropping, I and my work team has started to overdo the use of tea and coffee as much as 7-10 cups in a day. I have read that it is not at all healthy, especially considering a sedentary lifestyle that we have. Please shed some light. (Navneet Kaur - Ludhiana)

It is undoubtedly not healthy to consume any substance, leave tea or coffee alone, in such abundance. Remember, balance is the key. Tea or coffee may not actually help in brining respite from heat but can in fact only become an addiction. Replace those extra cups with few servings of green tea or herbal infusions. Turmeric milk has healing properties that boost immunity during winter. Also, you may consider adding Kawa with Nuts and Warm Lemon Water as a healthy substitute.

Few years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic stress. I was on medication for around 2 years. I have significantly gained weight and it has demotivated me to go out and make a mark for self. Kindly suggest what could I do better to restore my confidence and body weight? - Kamalpreet Kaur (Ludhiana)

It is natural during spells of stress that body puts on weight as the stress hormones encourage fat build up in the body. Hence, majority of dietary efforts fail to work. Lifestyle modification can work wonders. Do ensure addition of probiotics such banana, garlic, curd, onions etc in routine diet. In case you drink alcoholic or sugary drinks, try eliminating them or reducing them as much as possible. Eat healthy proteins and don’t starve in order to expedite weight loss. Physical workout along with enough water intake is also very vital in cases of weight gain due to stress.

I am sure I won't sound very wise but last month, I searched about something called GM diet on the internet and was excited to try it. However only disappointment is what I got at the end. Is it a recommended diet strategy? - Mohit Sapra (Jalandhar)

People mostly get it wrong. GM diet has mostly resulted in decreased energy level, loss of vital nutrients in the body and decreased performance. No doubt, you might end up losing some undesirable KGs but it is short lived. There is tendency of rebound weight gain immediately. It slows down metabolic rate of the body hence once you return to normal eating patterns, you’ll observe sudden gain in weight again. Remember, it is about your body and no shortcut can ever help you in long term. Do consult a diet expert before trying any random diet based on internet search.

My both kids are in teenage and with new sessions starting, they are always commuting between school and coaching classes. I have seen that their diet has worsened. I am worried as they indulge in eating packed and processed snacks during their class breaks. Please suggest what can be added in their diet for ensuring that their snacking is healthy. - Shaloo Sharma, Ludhiana

First thing first, ensure that they eat a light and healthy breakfast. It is suggested that there be variety in breakfast to motivate them to eat. For mid snacking, load their tiffins with small portions of nuts and fruit. Yoghurt has a cooling effect and a positive impact on digestion too. Especially during summer, avoid aerated drinks and replace those with fresh milkshakes and juices. Butter milk is also a rich source of nutrients and replenishes lost water content. Add such variety, and kids shall love to catch up on a good diet.

My younger son is 11 and attends school. He has history of fainting during morning assembles or during sports sessions. However, blood tests and investigations didn't reveal anything specific. I would be glad if you could shed some light on things he can consume to prevent such heat strokes. - Pratibha Kothari, Jalandhar

This is a common occurrence due to dehydration and nutrient loss. Younger children are more prone. Ensure high level of hydration including water, buttermilk, coriander juice, etc. in his routine. Fruit such as watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, plums – ones which are high in water content come handy in such cases. Coconut water is also a great choice for remaining hydrated for longer spells of time. At the same time in case of repeated occurrences, do consult an expert for a customized diet plan as each body type has a different need.

There is a lot of word about consumption of Gondh Kateera during summer days. My children spend lot of time in heat for travel from school and classes. What do you recommend about it and what are the best ways to consume it? - Poonam Chhabra, Ludhiana

Gondh Kateera or Tragacanth Gum is a natural product and is very beneficial for consumption during the hot weather. It has to be soaked overnight and the jelly like substance can be used with drinks such as lemonade, sorbets, smoothies, milk, curd, etc. It has cooling properties and help eliminate body heat. Especially for kids and those in work profiles involving travel, at least once a day, it should be consumed. People prone to incidents of nose bleeding can benefit a lot by consuming Gondh Kateera in various forms. It also has laxative properties and helps to relieve the bowel during constipation.

It is generally said that eating non-veg should be avoided during summer? Is it really suggested that way? I am a die-hard lover of eating meat and find it not pleasant to quit during summer. - Harshdeep Singh, Jalandhar

Generally, yes! It is highly suggested that at least fish and red meat should be minimized or eliminated from diet during summer months as these produce heat in the body hence causing various impacts such as heavy sweat, acid reflux and ulcers. Chicken, however can be consumed in baked or boiled form. The heavy gravies with spices and heat producing chilies should be avoided. Eggs can be consumed without any harm but minimize the use of oil while preparing. On a whole, regardless of the weather, moderation is the key to fitness. So, don’t overindulge and enjoy your diet and fitness!

I am a very hectic job profile and I am mostly on move. I end up eating fruit as most of my meals. I have heard that too much of fruit can harm too. Please guide best times to eat fruit. - Vikesh Verma, Ludhiana

Like any other thing, excess of consumption of fruit is definitely not healthy. It is important to understand that the kind of sugar found in fruit does not go well in metabolism when consumed with regular meals or immediately after meals as a dessert. Time gap of minimum 30-45 minutes should be kept between meals and fruit. You can also consume fruit an hour before eating a proper lunch so as to maximize the benefits. As you mentioned about your travel, make sure if you are eating light breakfast, you can add fruit portions but not in case you opt for a heavier breakfast such as parantha, fried stuff or a major item in breakfast. If you tend to eat early dinner, then you can eat fruit at night as a light snack too.

With a wide variety of cooking oils available in the market, with all of those claiming to be the best fit for health, what do you recommend for routine cooking? Is olive oil the only healthy choice? -Madhuri Yadav, Phagwara

Olive oils are recommended only for light sautéing and for dressing the salads owing to their lower smoking points, which means these oil burn at a lower temperature. Hence not very advisable for Indian cooking. However, pomace olive oil, a lower variant can be used for Indian cuisines. Best fit for Indian style of frying and cooking remains to be mustard oil, canola or rice bran oil. Do check with your diet expert as well for the type of oil suiting you best.

My 16-year daughter has suddenly started to gain weight in past few months. She has no medical condition and eats less and at odd timings as compared to others. I am worried of her becoming obese. Please advise. (Ambika Sharma, Ludhiana)

Obesity is becoming very common these days due to lack of physical activity, and primarily because of wrong eating habits. This includes long gaps between meals due to school and extra classes. In some case it is because of genetic history too. However, parents should ensure that sugary drinks, junk food and processed foods and sweets should be eliminated from the child’s diet. An effective way is to space the meals with healthy snacking options like nuts, salads, fruit, etc to be consumed during breaks between the classes. Drinks such as lassi, coconut water, lemon water can replace the packed and processed sugary drinks available in market. Emphasis should also be on adding physical activity and avoiding over indulgence in using gadgets.

I have a taste for salads since many years now. I tend to indulge in large servings at any given time of the day. Is there a specific time when salads should be eaten in order to gain maximum nutritional benefit? (Vinod Shukla, Mathura)

Salads form a great snack at any time of the day but ideally it is recommended to give a gap of at least an hour between meals and salad. Eating salads in excess also causes undesirable bloating, stomach cramps, flatulence because of excess fibre in it. Excess consumption over a long period of time can also result in reduced absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. which can cause serious deficiency issues. Also, make sure to use non-fat and natural dressings when tossing a salad than using packed ones.

There are lot of texts and articles speaking about use of Chia and Flax seeds in aiding weight loss. However I am not able to find exact reference and efficacy of those seeds. Are they really beneficial? What is the best way to consume those? - Ruchi Garg, Jalandhar

Yes, chia seeds and flax seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, essential antioxidants and proteins, hence the experts promote their consumption. Also, these help in lowering cholesterol levels. Major way they aid in weight loss is by introducing the feeling of fullness hence preventing binge eating on large food portions. However, do not get bought off by treating these as magic bullets because in weight gain regime, there is none. Only a blend of consumption of these with a balanced and healthy diet can help you most in weight loss. Flax seeds are recommended to be taken mildly roasted and ground while chia seed should be soaked in water for at least an hour before consumption.

I find little or no time to work out in a gym. As a result, my husband and I go for a brisk walk right after dinner. Is it a healthy practice? Gurdeep Sidhu, Bathinda

People usually consider walking after a heavy meal as a tool to burn calories consumed. However, it is ironically a very unhealthy practice. The reason is very basic – after eating food, our body starts off the digestion and assimilation process and requires blood supply to fulfil the same. Walking briskly or working out during that time hampers digestion process big time. I recommend you taking a walk 30 minutes or more prior to meal times as it would prevent conversion of fat during the meals and also fires up the metabolism rate which in long terms ensures overall wellness. Occasionally a stroll can be taken up but don’t make it an aggressive habit.

Six months ago, I was diagnosed with acute hypertension and high cholesterol and hence was put on a very restricted diet. However due to my love for eating non-veg, I have not been able to control the vitals. Can you please suggest if I can continue eating meat? Will it harm? - Piyush Garg, Ludhiana

Considering the fact that you have hypertension and high cholesterol, you should eliminate egg yolk, dishes made with liver and processed meats at any cost. Though it is seafood but shrimp is very high in cholesterol hence it should be avoided. Skinless meats like chicken, pork, lamb, etc can be eaten in moderation. Among fish, salmon and tuna are the best choice for the fact that they contain omega 3, which tempers the levels of cholesterol. The style of cooking can impact the nutrition factor of healthy meats like chicken too. It can be said that more than non-veg, the style of cooking it, makes all the difference, and so is moderation important too.

I am overweight by 29 KGs and have consulted many people in past. My family insists that turning into vegetarian will expedite and ensure weight loss for me. How true is this? - Shikha Mehendiratta, Jalandhar.

It is a myth that turning into vegetarian can guarantee weight loss. Please understand that it won’t help till you bring the calorie consumption down too. In fact, many times people turn vegetarian but end up eating more in the confusion that this won’t harm and they in turn gain weight. Sugar and fats tend to result in more weight gain than meat does. So there are no thumb rules but only smart eating that helps in weight management. Also, never fall for claims of quick and expedite weight loss because only gradual and systematic weight management results in good health.

There is a lot of noise about usage of detox water for weight loss these days. There are numerous recipes and opinions on the internet too. Is it worth the effort? Also, in what amount should it be taken to maintain moderation and for fullest benefit?

Detox water has emerged as the latest craze among the weight watchers these days. The name itself speaks its purpose – detoxifying the body. Its usage aims at flushing out toxins and excess elements that harm the body in longer run. In addition to this, it undoubtedly hydrates the body, prevents bloating and also aids in diuretic functions. However, in the race to lose weight people tend to overdo things, including drinking detox water. Like any other diet fad, this should be followed in moderation as well. Do not starve by depending solely on detox water for weight loss. Before beginning to follow, consult an expert so as to understand which detox water will suit your body the best.

Our family has elderly with history of joint pains and arthritis. Changing weather has triggered pains and discomfort each year. Can you suggest some dietary modification to minimize the discomfort?

To achieve a pain free living, focus should be on diets rich in antioxidants and the one rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Packed and processed foods are biggest enemies of those with history of joint pains and inflammation. This is owing to presence of unhealthy fats, salts and high sugar content which promotes inflammation. Alcohol intake should also be checked when anti-inflammatory medication is being administered as alcohol can result in various counter affects further injuring the health. High fibre foods and whole grain, herbs such as thyme, cumin, turmeric and garlic are good for controlling inflammation. Adding portions of almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts are a great advantage too for tempering inflammation. Apple, berries, pineapple etc can be consumed in moderation too, if suggested by an expert. For those consuming non-veg, tuna, salmon and snapper are best meat choices.

In summers I find coconut water very appetizing. Owing to travel job, I end up consuming as many as 6-7 servings in a day. Is it fine to consume this much quantity? Also, what are the benefits of it? - Paritosh Malik, New Delhi

Coconut water is a low-fat and healthy drink but it is worth noting that it is not free from calories. It works as a good source of hydration and especially works well for those who indulge in physical activity. It is rich in sodium, sugar, electrolytes and especially potassium – hence very easily digested by the body. Do remember that it cannot replace water as a drink but certainly substitutes other sugary and unhealthy drinks that we end up drinking in summers. Like any other thing, excess of coconut water is also not recommended as it can result in elevated potassium levels in body, causing abnormal hearth rhythm and renal disorders too.

There is too much talk and discussion about flax seeds these days. I have been suggested to consume flax seeds as part of my diet. However, I am not able to understand as in what is the best way to consume those. Kindly assist with the same. - Palak Motwani, Mathura

There is a school of thought for fitness – healthy foods can be consumed in any form. However, one recommended way is to use them roasted and ground. Flax seeds are easier to digest after being roasted or when ground but one should not store them in ground form for a long period of time. Only freshly ground flax seeds should be used and if need be, they should be stored in airtight container for few days only. Also, if adding to salads, yogurt or smoothies, you can use flax seeds in whole form as well.

There is lot of noise online about whether or not one should consume milk at bedtime. My family had a habit of consuming a glass of milk each night before bed. Can you shed some light whether it’s healthy or not? - Prerna Gulati, Nawashahar

There are no thumb rules pertaining to diet and lifestyle as each body type is different and requires custom intervention depending on one’s digestive system’s capability. For those struggling with erratic sleep cycles at night, a warm glass of milk does help to improve sleep quality. This is because milk contains tryptophan – an amino acid that aids in inducing sleep. In addition to this, it also contains melatonin, a hormone that is helpful in regulating sleep-wake cycle. Many people find it difficult to digest milk at night, for them it’s best to observe the subtle signs and then make changes. Also, there should be adequate gap between dinner and milk so as to not overwork the metabolism,

I have been using variety of oils for routine cooking over past few years. Someone I know told me to switch to ghee has benefits over oil. How true is that? - Ambika Sharma, Delhi

No matter how many options are out there, ghee remains the winner when it comes to health benefits. This is because of its healing and anti-infection properties. Contrary to old beliefs that ghee increases cholesterol levels, it is established that ghee doesn’t increase cholesterol but should be consumed in moderation by those who have high levels of cholesterol. It promotes bone strength, digestion and also works as a hearing agent in cases of inflammation such as arthritis and bowel diseases. Refined oils available in market have tendency to degrade very easily hence should be avoided as much as possible. Ideal quantity to consume should not be more 2-3 teaspoon in the whole day.

I am working at a call center and owing to prolonged seating, I have put on over 20 KG of weight in a year. I have tried numerous methods and diet plans but to no avail. I need to understand if sleep is an important element of weight management? – Rajeev Kumar (Ludhiana)

Thank your for writing Rajeev! BPO professionals often come across a similar situation owing to erratic or untimed sleep cycles. However there is certainly a way to conquer the problem. Sleep acts like a nutrition for the brain like food acts for the body. Minimum 6 hours of sleep is essential regardless of the body type. Sleep deprivation shall force the body to reach in unwanted ways such as untimely cravings for food and sugar cravings during the day. The two chemicals in the body called Ghrelin and Leptin are impacted by unfulfilled sleep. The former signals the body about the time when the body wants to eat and the latter Leptin tells the brain to put the spoon down when stomach is full. In addition to this, Cortisol levels also spikes up due to sleep deprivation – resulting in increased stress levels.

I am a video editor who spends 12-14 hours staring at computer screens while editing my works. No wonder I have been endowed with weight issues for I have no time to work out or hit the gym. I tend to skip meals and I am addict to junk food and have been facing troubles such as kidney stones, hair fall and dull skin. I am sure you can help me by suggesting the right course of action. – Manesh Chawla (Bathinda)

Skipping the meals is the worst one can do towards physical and emotional health. One tends to run low on nutrition and hence resorting to portions of junk or processed food as a means of satiation. This undoubtedly results in myriad health issues such as those mentioned by you. I strong suggest that you follow strict and fixed diet timings and add 2-3 small meals in between the 3 major meals you eat – breakfast, lunch and dinner. This shall ensure that blood sugar, hormones, lipids such as cholesterol remain within healthy limits – keeping you away from unwanted disorders.

I have a question that I believe you may be getting in abundance – does diet planning work during menopause to lose weight? – Shelly Pasricha (Jalandhar)

Indeed this is a common question among women during menopause. However the good news is that weight management and weight gain can go hand in hand. Please understand that weight gain during menopause is not abnormal or alarming as the increased levels of estrogen and slower metabolism are mainly the reasons behind it. Move slow – modify diet, add activity and exercise to lifestyle for dipping the scale in your favor. Avoiding sugar comes very handy in achieving weight goals, no matter what. Cut down on the saturated fats and replace those with plant based sources of Vitamin E, anti oxidants and Omega 3. While calcium is good for body, overdoing it can defeat the purpose entirely. Not to forget, stay happy, always!

I have liking for eating nuts and dry fruit during winter. However, if I consume almonds and cashews, I get acne that doesn't go away soon. Please suggest what should I do? - Harveen Kaur (Gurgaon)

Instead of taking almonds as they are, try consuming them after soaking them overnight. This too should not be done in abundance but in a generous quantity. Acne is promoted by excess consumption of refined sugars, carbohydrates such as those in bread, potatoes and rice, fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, etc. Try replacing these with healthier choices in routine diet. At the same time, to rule out presence of any specific allergy to food, do consult a diet expert to help you better. Avoid cashew nuts as those are high in cholesterol and promote acne. 

My 8-year young son cannot digest milk. Consuming milk in morning makes his stomach churn and also results in frequent motions. Is he lactose intolerant? If yes, what other substitutes can I add in order to prevent lack of nutrition. - Pooja Bhardwaj (Ludhiana)

I suggest that you should get a Lactose Intolerance test done for your son, do this on priority. Also, it is normal to witness such problem in kids. This is to be understood that if taken empty stomach, milk creates acidity. As the first step, he should avoid consuming milk early in morning. Milk can be taken at some other time during the day such as in evening. Also, in morning try replacing milk with something solid. I reiterate that before modifying dietary styles, do ensure prevalence of the intolerance by getting relevant tests performed and consulting an expert. 

With an aim to lose weight, I joined aerobics two months back. However instead of losing weight, my body has seen significant gain in weight. Please suggest where might be the problem. - Ritu Kaur (Ludhiana)

The weight gain observed after working out is often result of inflammation caused by tearing of muscle fibres. Please note that it is not a permanent gain and shall subside once the muscles repair themselves. Also, it is commonly seen that after workout, people tend to indulge in food; hence defeating the purpose of exercise. I strongly suggest that you get a customised diet plan made for your body type.

Can you shed some light on remedies to get rid of water retention? - Navneet Kaur (Ludhiana)

Water retention is commonly observed in bodies of urban population owing to erratic diet styles and excess intake of salty foods. One should add more protein in diet and should also consume potassium rich foods such as banana, cucumber, salad leaves, parsley, etc. Limit the intake of drinks that dehydrate the body – tea, coffee and alcohol are few to name. Adequate hydration also aids in cutting down water retention as it promotes urination. It is highly recommended to bring down the consumption of processed foods and sodium-rich food items from routine diet.

What quantity of nuts should one consume ideally in a day? - Balwinder Kaur (Jagraon)

Nuts are rich sources of nutrients such as Omega 3, fibre and good fats. It is recommended to add handful of nuts in daily diet. However the high calorie content in nuts makes it noteworthy that one should refrain from eating them in excess. In addition to this, consult your diet expert to understand which nuts are better for you.

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