Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Navaratri:   Festive of  Victory

As a nutritionist I often see clients have lot of information about what to eat and what not to eat. The main question comes how to follow and set rules to include all the healthy food into diet. Here comes the role of a nutritionist to suggest them best diet plan. The job is not done yet!!! But we need to motivate client to start the healthy regimen which is a very difficult task. Making themselves move away from the bad habits like smoking, alcohol abuse, caffeine addiction etc; is very challenging as everything  has withdrawal symptoms.
Any festival in INDIA is celebrated as victory against bad.  Navaratri is also one such occasion where people worship goddess Durga as a symbol of victory against bad(Mahishasura).  In the same way take this occasion as a motivation to change. Here are few steps to keep motivating you for a change
1.    List out all your habits which you think changing them will create a healthy life.
2.    Choose one or two of your bad habits, these should be simple,small change as it is 9 day program. Make an oath to change.
3.    Discuss this with your family and exchange your views. So that you don’t feel alone.
4.    Write a journal of your daily progress towards change.
5.    Use social networking sites to support you.
6.    Display Inspiring quotes in visibility, so that they remind you always.
7.    For example if you plan to stop drinking coffee several times a day. Make a oath to reduce number of intakes in a day and finally on ninth day you should be able to stop it for good. Then celebrate your tenth day as a victory against your bad habit. “First step towards change is awareness. The Second step is acceptance.” – Nathaniel Branden.

All the best !!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Smart Shopping Tips for Healthy Family.

Meal time is fun family time.All family members come together during meal time. Planning your meals a head of time will give you an opportunity to feed your family members healthy,delicious and nutritional meals. What you put end of your fork will decide your health. This month I would like to discuss with you some smart ideas to create a healthy kitchen pantry.

  1. Keep your pantry free from processed food like potato chips,ready to eat meals,deep fried snacks etc.
  2. Avoid Aisles in your grocery mart. Focus your shopping on circumference of the mart. Shop produce section as much as possible.
  3. While purchasing a  groceries make sure you check the ingredients list. Prefer food products that have  fewer ingredients. Select products with five or less ingredients.
  4. The major ingredient in the product will be listed first in the ingredient list. For example if enriched flour is listed first in ingredient list, it indicates that enriched flour is added in highest quantity.
  5. Avoid products that contain enriched wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup(HFCS),Colors, preservatives, any thing in Greek and Latin.
  6. Be cautious about hidden sugars and salts. Dextrose, maltose, are other forms of sugars added in food products. Avoid products that contain these forms of sugars. Salts are present as monosodiumglutamate. Take time to check this list.
  7. While purchasing canned food prefer sodium free and sugar free products.
  8. While shopping produce section follow dirty dozens and clean 15 list. Prefer organic produce for foods that come under dirty dozen and you can go for normal produce for clean 15 foods. Here is list for you.
  • Dirty Dozens:                                 
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumber
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes
  • Clean 15 :
  1. Onion
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Egg plant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  12. Sweet potato
  13. Grape fruit
  14. Water melon
  15. Mushrooms
9. Prefer to purchase seasonal produce. It is healthy,economical and pollutant free.
10.It is better to purchase salsa than ketchup.You can avoid preservatives and improve your veggie servings. Aim to have 3 servings(100 gms/serving) of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Know Your Numbers

A part from emergency numbers like 911,there are few numbers that you should know to track your health. When a diabetes patient or heart patient visits a physician, physician recommends a blood test.As a patient it is your right to know what is wrong with your reports and how does a normal report look like. Elderly people(50years and up) are highly recommended for complete health check once in a year. Through this blog I would like to share my knowledge on few numbers that are essential to track your health.Normal reports look as following.

Complete blood count: This test is done to learn about your blood components.Difference in this blood components indicates your illness.For example if your hemoglobin % is less than normal, it indicates you are anemic. If your WBC count is high, it indicates you have an infection in your body.
  • White Blood cell Count(WBC): They are measured in thousands(K) per cubic milliliter(uL) - 3.3-8.7 K/uL.
  • Red Blood cell Count (RBC): They are measured in Millions(M) per cubic milliliter(uL)- 3.93-5.69 M/uL
  • Hemoglobin(HGB): This is measured in Gram(g) per deciliter(dL)-12.6-16.1 g/dL
  • Hematocrit (HCT): This is measured as percentage of red blood cells to your total blood volume-38-47.7%
  • Platelets: These are measured in thousands per cubic milliliter-147-347 K/uL
  • Neutrophil Count: Neutrophil count indicates number of infection fighting cells in your blood.They range should be between 2500-6000.If you have1000 or fewer Neutrophils, it indicates your are at risk of infection.
Cholesterol test: This test is done to know if there is any excess cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is important component of cell. If it is excess in blood, there is serious threat of clogging your arteries with blood cholesterol. So, it is very much important to maintain your cholesterol levels with in normal range.

  • Total serum cholesterol : Less than  200mg/dL-Desired, 200-239 mg/dL- Border line high, 240mg/dL High blood cholesterol.
  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)(Happy cholesterol)-More than  60mg/dL- very good, Less than 50mg/dL for women and less than 40mg/dL in men- Risk of heart disease.
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) (Lousy cholesterol) less than 100 mg/dL- Optimal, 100-129 mg/dL Near or Above Optimal, 130-159 mg/dL Borderline High, 160-189 mg/dL- High, More than190mg/dL- Very High.
  • Triglyceride level: Less than150mg/dL-Normal, 150-199 mg/dL-Borderline high, 200-499mg/dL- High, More than500mg/dL-Very High.
Ideal Blood Glucose levels for Type 2 Diabetes patients: This test is essential for type 2 diabetic patients to maintain their normal blood sugar levels. But for a elder people(50 years and above) frequent check up of blood glucose levels is important. Because early detection of pre-diabetes condition helps to avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.

  • HbA1C-7%
  • Pre prandial plasma glucose(Before meals)- 70-130 mg/dL
  • Post prandial Plasma glucose (After meals)-<180mg/dL.
  • Fasting blood glucose levels for Prediabetes-110-120mg/dL.
  • Fasting insulin -5-10 IU/dL.
 C-reactive protein-<1mg/L. Chronic inflammatory disorders like arthritis are identified by amount highly sensitive C-reactive protein.
Thyroid Stimulating hormone(TSH): This hormone levels helps us to know if you have any thyroid problems. Normal range is around 1-2 mIU/L.
Free T3(Thyroxine)-3-4.2 pg/dL
Free T4(Triidothyronine)-1-1.5 ng/dL.
Below normal levels of T4 and high levels of TSH indicates low functioning of thyroid. Similarly Low levels of TSH and high levels of T3 indicates over active thyroid.
Total Serum Protein:
This test is done to know if your liver and kidney are functioning properly. Any abnormal results indicate you are prone to some illness.They range from Malnutrition low serum albumin to multiple myeloma (blood cancer)with high globulin levels.Normal range is as follows.
Total protein : 6.4-8.3g/dL or 64-83 g/L
Albumin : 3.5-5.0 g/dL or 35-50g/L
Alfa-1 globulin :0.1-0.3g/dL or 1-3g/L
Alfa-2 globulin: 0.6-1.0g/dL or 6-10g/L
Beta globulin: 0.7-1.1g/dL or 7-11g/L
These are some of the major test performed regularly to track your overall health. Know your numbers and make small lifestyle changes to keep your numbers in normal range.


1. Patient Education, understanding your complete blood count(2008), Clinical center, National Institute of Health(NIH).
2.What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean, (Dec 2,2011).American Heart Association.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Obesity in women begins between ages 30-40 years. This is the period where women have lot of stress in their daily life. They keep busy in raising kids, career accomplishments and family responsibilities. They have very little time to take care of themselves. By the time they reach menopause age they are facing the chronic health issues like arthritis, diabetes, heart problems and many more. The main culprit behind all these chronic conditions is Obesity. Women realize they are obese once they reach menopause stage and when they have come across one of the above chronic health issues.  As mentioned earlier they start putting on weight from ages30-40 years. One reason behind this is stress and lack of self-care. Studies show that stress will lead to release certain hormones that will promote adiposity. “A study on Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of “comfort food”” showed that glucocorticoids released during chronic stress leads to consumption of comfort food there by increases adiposity. This study also showed that glucocorticoids will also aid in increase of abdominal fat depots.This is the reason behind munching on chocolate and ice creams when you are in stress. 
Irregular meal timings, skipping meals are the common practices seen in women. The main reason behind this is they do not have time or they are busy in concentrating on their kids or partner. Many women skip breakfast which is the most important meal of the day. As part of rituals women skip a meal or skip meals completely for a day or two in a week. They do not participate in recommended physical activity. This is because they get tired with all the stress and chores they perform all through the day. But physical activity will help them to relieve all those tensions and relaxes the body and promotes good night sleep. A study on “Response of oxidative stress biomarkers to a 16-week aerobic physical activity program, and to acute physical activity, in healthy young men and women” showed that regular physical activity will help in increases endogenous antioxidant activity and reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.  Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers.  Chronic stress leads to free radical production. There by physical activity helps to combat stress by increasing endogenous antioxidant activity.

Take time for yourself. Here are few tips for self-care.
1. Make a room for 30 min in your daily schedule. This is your time.
2. Relax yourself. These days we are blessed with various massage centers and SPA's. They help us a lot to relax. Choose good spa and trained and certified massagers.
3. Listen to your favorite music. Music is quick reach to relax. Go for slow and calm music.
4. Go for gym twice a week.
5. Practice meditation and yoga.
6. Gardening. This not only relaxes you but also good physical activity option. Try growing scented plants and flowers.
7. Just sit and relax with a cup of herbal tea.
8. A hot shower bath with aromatic oils.
9. When you feel stressed munch on healthy snacks like fruits, yogurt, and nuts. Keep them in your reach.
10. Take care of your meals. Do not skip breakfast. Women are most active person in the house. So women should keep fueling their body to avoid fatigue. Practice self-motivation. "If I do not care for myself now I will not be in a position to take care of my loved one's in future".
1.Mary F. Dallman*, Norman Pecoraro, Susan F. Akana,Susanne E. la Fleur, Francisca Gomez Hani Houshyar, M. E. Bell,Seema Bhatnagar, Kevin D. Laugero, and Sotara Manalo,Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of “comfort food”, Abstract,PNAS September 30, 2003vol. 100 no. 20 11696-11701.
2.R. Elosua, L. Molina, M. Fito, A. Arquer, J.L. Sanchez-Quesada, M.I. Covas, J. OrdoƱez-Llanos, J. Marrugat,Response of oxidative stress biomarkers to a 16-week aerobic physical activity program, and to acute  physical activity, in healthy young men and women,Abstract,Atherosclerosis Volume 167, Issue 2, April 2003, Pages 327–334.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Nutrition facts label: The Important tool for choosing healthy food.


 Grocery shopping is a routine and important to do activity of the week.  When it comes to grocery shopping every housewife aims to shop productively to feed her family a nutritious meal. There comes a big question what to buy?  Is this a healthy option or not? In present busy world people are approaching for quick fix. Ready to eat foods, pre packed meals are quite common. Beware of all those attractive packing. The only way we can assess a food item is Nutritional facts label that is printed on every food item behind the pack. This Nutritional fact label will give us a clear picture of what we actually consume. So when you purchase a food item make sure you check for Nutritional fact Label before letting it in to your cart.

Why Nutritional Facts label is important:

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends low energy dense food to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity. Energy density of a food depends on number of calories present in food per serving. A recent study in Chicago also concluded that high energy dense food causes weight gain.  Nutritional Fact label is the only tool on food items that indicates energy density of the food.  Along with energy density this label also indicates some important nutritional facts like number of calories from fat, total fat, total carbohydrates, Dietary fiber, Sugar, Sodium, Protein, Vit- A, Vit- C, iron, calcium. Reading nutrition labels have following advantages:

  •          Helps to choose low energy dense foods.
  •          Helps to identify high fat foods.
  •          Helps in identifying high sodium foods.
  •          Helps in identifying high sugary foods.
  •          Helps to make smart choices on healthy fats by knowing the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  •          Helps to make smart choice of proteins and fiber.
So, it is important to read nutrition label before purchasing a food item. No mom wants to feed a sugary, fatty, and low fiber food to her family. So educate yourself to be smart in choosing healthy foods.

How to read Nutritional fact label:
This is not a complicated task. It just needs some attention and patience to look and compare your food choices.
Nutrition Facts Label Images for Download Label 3

Serving Size:

In Nutrition Facts label first check for serving size. Make sure you serve exact serving size mentioned on the label. If you have 2 servings at a time then just double your nutrients count and also calorie count.

Amount of calories:

Amount of calories gives you knowledge on amount of calories you consume per serving. Always aim for fewer calories from fat. When you are purchasing nuts or butter, then aim to get more unsaturated fats than saturated fats.

Limit these nutrients:

Limit consumption of total fats, Saturated fats, Trans- fat, Cholesterol, Sodium. Aim for items that contain less amount of above nutrients. When comparing products choose one that is having low amounts of fats, cholesterol and sodium. Never buy products that have trans-fat.  This is major culprit for heart strokes, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Get enough of Fiber, Vitamin A, C, Calcium, and Iron:

A fiber rich food helps to maintains blood glucose levels and it also helps you to feel full for long time.

Vitamin A is responsible for good vision and also helps as immune booster. Good amounts of Vitamin A are advisable. Dietary recommendations of Vit A for adults are 600 mcg/day retinol and 4800mcg/day Beta carotene. So aim to get good amounts of Vitamin A.

Vitamin C is also one of the good immune boosters. As it is a water soluble vitamin regular intake of vitamin C containing food is important. A dietary recommendation for Vit C is 40mg/d.

Calcium is important compound of teeth and bones. It  is also important in cellular level, as some energy driven cellular process are carried out with help of calcium channels. It is very important for kids and women for strong bones. A dietary recommendation for Calcium is 1000mg/d for men and 1500mg/d for pregnant, lactating and for women above 50.

Iron is major component of blood so aim for foods that are good sources of iron. Dietary recommendations for iron are 17mg/d for men and 21mg/d for women.

Percentage Daily Value (%DV):

This numbers give you the contribution of nutrient in the serving to your total daily diet. This value also helps to know if food is high or low in particular nutrient. 5% or less is low and 20% or more is high. But this percentage is for 2000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie requirement you may need more or less. But yet it is a helpful gauge.

Foot Note with % Daily Values:

This foot note will help you know the advisable levels of nutrients intake depending on your calorie intake.

Take home message:

  •         Always read nutrition labels before you purchase a food item.
  •          Use nutrition label to compare similar foods and choose healthy option.
  •        Aim for low fat, low sodium and low sugary foods.
  •         Tran-fat should always be “0”.
  •         Choose foods with good amounts of fiber, vitamins, calcium, and iron.
  •         Always choose healthy fats like polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fats and ALA.

Always know what you eat, this helps in preventing long list of chronic diseases.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy steps for healthy life..

Today when I am browsing through websies that promote good health I found out very useful stuff around those web pages. But I doubt how many of us really look deep into it and realise the need for change in lifestyle. I found many websites stating what to eat and what not to eat, few end up with magic diets, few focus on exercise rigimens. But ultimate sucess of lifestyle change will be only when they motivate people towards it. So I would like to present some easy steps that will help you to move towards practicing a very healthy life style.

  1. .21 day lifestyle change exercise will work well for a person who really want to make a lifestyle change. This is my personal experience.For example if you are trying to increase water intake.Make a note on calender for every glass of water you have.Then see what happens on 21st day. Reasearch suggest that when a person does an activity regularly for 21 days brain register that activity and automatically you will continue it.
  2. Make a note on your room wall saying "NOW".Remember 'Now' is the time to complete your dreams or your resolutions. We never know how tomorrow is going to be. So move forward and do the things you plan. This brings success.It will also motivate you to do your work on time.For example if you want to start workout,jump out of bed and start with slow moves even stretching will help you. Never be a couch potato.
  3. Never get disappointed when you miss your schedule for one day.But make a note and be sure to full fill it the next day.
  4. Do not avoid any food for long time. Because research says that any food avoided for long time will take priority. when you come across, you tend to eat it more.
  5. There is no "one" such magic diet to reduce weight.Eat  Nutrient rich diet and workout daily for at least 30 min. Deficit in 500 cal and 150min of workout per week will help to reduce 2 lbs/week.Minimum 5%  loss in your weight will show good results in cholesterol levels. So keep small goals for weight loss.
  6.  Do not skip meals. Every meal has its own importance in body function. Small meals several times a day will boost your metabolic rate and helps in weight loss.
  7. Make sure you eat at least one healthy food a day.Keep going and increase your list of healthy food in a day.
  8.  Every body needs a treat at least once a month. So go ahead and enjoy food. Give some place for healthy nutritious food during treats. Simple meal makeovers helps you a lot without compromising the taste.
  9.  Avoid stress and be optimistic in life.12 min of meditation can help you relieve from stress. Meditation before sleep aids in goodnight sleep.
  10.  Light music, Spirituality,  Aroma therapy,  A cup of coffee  will help reducing stress.Stress is also one of the major causes for obesity , insomnia, and sleep apnea.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meal plan of INDIANS

Staple food of INDIANS:
Cereals (rich in fiber and carbohydrates): Rice, wheat, Jower, Bajra, Ragi, Maize
Pulses:  Bengal gram, Black gram, Green gram, Lentils, Red gram.
Roots and Tubers: Carrot, Potato , Onion.
Nuts and oils: Ground nut(peanut)
Fruits: Amla, Apple, Banana(ripe), Lime& Orange, Mango(ripe), Papaya(ripe), Tomato(ripe) 
General meal plan of INDIANS:
2 Dosa/4idli/1 ½ cup upma-  with peanut chutney
1 cup of tea/coffee with sugar.
1 cup plain white rice/2 rotis
¼ cup lentil dhal
¼ cup vegetable curry
¼ Rasam/sambar
¼ yogurt
1 cup tea with sugar
2- 3 cookies
2 rotis/ ½ cup rice
¼ cup vegetable curry
¼ cup yogurt
In general meal plan of any region will have basic structure like every meal includes cereals, vegetables/meat, with a drink. Depending on their major crops and staple foods dishes might vary.