What screws up our immune system?
Nice to be back after a (not-so) brief hiatus. While I was guilty about not keeping up my commitment of publishing twice a week here on Gingerchai, I’ve been working my butt off and also focusing on family and friends quite a bit. Lots of good things happening at work – son’s in a new academic year, I’ve had some major restructuring at work – in short – it has been a period of change – all for the good J I hope.
Hmm..so I am back with some interesting health info. We all lead hectic lives and in the process, think nothing of various things that screw up our immunity. Fact is, if our immune system is not strong, we tend to fall sick often. The good news is – for most people, the immune system does kick in like a favorite friend – but constant abuse can make it weak, and reduce the body’s ability to fight illnesses – even minor ones.
Can you control your immune system?
Yes – by controlling our habits, because when we’re conscious about staying healthy, it keeps the immune system in check. Here are some things that sabotage our immune system – so you decide whether you can do anything about it:
Hmm. You really should kick the butt. Cigarettes not only weaken your immune system, but make you more prone to colds and ‘flus. The smoking habit can damage the linings of your mouth and nose, which are a part of your immune system. Smoking makes your immune system attack your lung tissue, laying you open to COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, a respiratory condition that has no cure.
Not getting enough sleep
So you’re one of those really great individuals who can get by with a few hours of zzz every night. You feel proud about sleeping late and waking up early. Not getting enough rest can open you to conditions like depression, diabetes and obesity. Not fun. Every adult needs at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep everyday. If not? Well, you’re just screwing up that immune system and inviting colds and flus, not to mention gradually beginning to look like something even the cat will refuse to drag in.
One peg too many on a regular basis
Another think that attacks the immune system is regular alcohol intake. If you cannot live without your daily dose of alcohol, think about how the alcohol wears away the linings of your mouth and esophagus, giving out an open invitation to viruses and bacteria and the next thing you know, you’ve got a cold or flu. Women who drink must restrict themselves to one drink a day. For men, no more than two per day – if you really have to.
Pressure at work, home and near – and dear ones. What to do? The stress just gets to you and affects your immune response, lowering your resistance to infections. Stress causes conditions like herpes. Ugh. It is important to exercise and get rid of stress. Deep breathing is good too.
Unhealthy eating habits
Too many sugary foods can give you a temporary high, only to leave you feeling quite lousy when that wears off. You have to get enough fruits and veg to strengthen your immune system. Not eating healthy can make you susceptible to disease. You put on weight. How sexy is that?
Unsafe sexual behavior
Risk is good – but only with some things in life. Risky sex puts you at risk for HIV infections, which can kill the immune system. Practice safe sex. Always use a condom. Be safe. Not sorry.
Lack of exercise
Exercise keeps your body healthy. At least thirty minutes of vigorous activity is a must on a daily basis. Try brisk walking, playing a game, walking your dog – whatever works for you to sweat it out. It keeps your metabolism in balance and helps your immune system stay healthy.
So – again – can you control your immune system? Yes.
Vidya Sury is a full-time professional freelance content writer/Mom/blogger. She loves life and blogs at Your Medical Guide, Going A-Musing and Coffee with Mi.
Some facts about tea – the cup that cheers
Good enough to drink to your health! And before you go wondering whether I am drunk – yes, I am. On Tea. And I am about ready to drink to your health!
Last week, when I was out shopping as usual at the supermarket, I saw an entire aisle (seemed like) devoted to various brands of tea – and the variety of tea bags literally mesmerized me. Now, I insist that I am a big coffee drinker – but I also enjoy a cup of tea every day. So – tempted, I bought a few flavors in tea bags – and am enjoying them tremendously. So convenient to make.
Tea – as you probably all know – is a great source of antioxidants. It appears that two cups of tea can actually give you one cup of an anti-oxidant rich veggie. But am not saying go on a tea diet; fact is, over 90% of tea’s compounds are flavonoids and this makes it the leader when it comes to plants rich in flavonoids.
In Green tea, in particular, you get the simple flavonoids in the form of catechins. Black tea has the more complex varieties thearubigins and theaflavins. There are claims that green tea helps with cancer prevention.
Which has more caffeine – tea or coffee?
A cup of tea has 25 -60 milligrams of caffeine, which is less than the 100 mg you’d find in the same amount of coffee. But if you compare dry tea with dry coffee, then tea has more caffeine. Surprised? Funny thing is – when it comes to drinking tea or coffee – the caffeine content is less than coffee. Hmm. Good thing we don’t eat tea leaves and coffee grounds.
Which tea is healthiest?
The belief is that green tea has the maximum antioxidant content and comes highly recommended. But there are studies in the US to prove that white tea might be more antioxidant packed than green tea, while the Chinese claim that black tea and green tea have the same amount of antioxidants.
Tea – and weight loss
In a study, participants who consumed about five cups (150 ml) per day were able to burn more calories per day compared to those who drank only water. Green tea is believed to burn more calories because it contains an ingredient called epigallocatechin gallate. It speeds up the metabolism and burns fat at the rate of approximately 80 calories per day.
Good to know all this. The sobering thought is that it is necessary to stick to a healthy diet; don’t go drinking a lot of tea in the hope that it will dissolve extra weight, or prevent weight gain, you ultimately HAVE to watch what you eat.
Whey to go!
You know Little Miss Muffet, who sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey (good girl!) Skipping the rest of the rhyme and the scary spider, let us look at the health benefits of “whey”. You’ve probably seen a host of health supplements singing the praises of whey. Even Bournvita has a kids’ building block-like package which boasts whey. So – is whey really healthy.
First, some gyaan on what is whey
Cheese is made by adding rennet to milk. This makes the milk curdle – the little lumps are curds and the watery liquid is whey. The curds are used to make cheese. People would throw away the whey water as waste, until its health benefits were discovered. When the water from whey is removed, whey protein is the result.
Why whey is special
If you want the features of milk in something without actually using milk, whey is used as a substitute. If you are worried about your sugar intake, whey can help, giving you that sweetish flavor. Manufacturers of food products add whey in place of sugar.
The Health Benefits of Whey
Studies show that whey has a host of health benefits
- Whey supplements can increase your lean body mass and improve the performance of your musculoskeletal system. The whey protein has amino acids that are broken down into muscle tissues. When you go for exercise and resistance training, these are the ones to be used first. Hmm. Six packs, any one?
- Whey speeds up your metabolic rate because it stimulates the building of muscle tissues. This helps lose weight. So if you add whey to your snack or beverage, you get a spurt of energy and control your food intake.
- Whey is a great source of bio-available calcium which helps build stronger bones and prevents stress fractures during rigorous exercise. It can also prevent bone loss especially in female athletes with low estrogen levels.
- For cancer patients who suffer with digestion problems, whey can help, as it is easy to digest. Whey reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer through its cycteine content, which is a building block of the antioxidant glutathione and helps combat free radicals that cause prostate cancer.
- Whey helps reduce your LDL or bad cholesterol levels and balances your blood pressure.
- Whey’s antioxidant properties strengthen the immune system, helping your overall health.
Whey water tastes quite pleasant. We used to drink it all the time, because milk would act very smart during summer when it wouldn’t turn into thick curds. We would sometimes grumble at the somewhat watery curd – and my grandma would say – drink it! It is good for health. Hmm. She knew her stuff. And so did Ms.Muffet.
Garlic – why you should include it in your diet
Garlic is a well known and well loved flavor in cuisines around the world. It has a potent spicy flavor and brings a host of health benefits as part of our diet.
Did you know that garlic has anti-bacterial properties? Studies prove that it can fight infections and even instances of food poisoning. Compared to bottled garlic, fresh garlic is more potent in terms of health benefits. So what are the health benefits of garlic?
- Garlic is known to treat the common cold
- It strengthens our immune system, helping us fight cancer.
- It fights heart disease and lowers blood pressure.
- It can prevent diabetes, hypertension and bacterial, fungal and viral infections. There are studies to prove garlic’s efficacy against strep, E. coli, Salmonella, H. pylori, Candida albicans, and other microorganisms. It improves serum cholesterol levels
- Garlic also called Allium sativa has the active components Alliin, an amino acid and Allinase, an enzyme. It also contains several trace elements such as copper, germanium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium.
- Garlic has sulfur compounds that reduce cholesterol from the blood stream, helping reduce blood pressure. Regular intake of garlic is said to help normalize low blood pressure.
- The antioxidants in garlic protect us against cell damage, inhibiting the growth of tumors.
- Garlic balances blood sugar by increasing the insulin levels in the blood stream, which is why it is used to treat diabetes.
- Garlic is a natural toothache remedy
- Garlic protects people from toxins such as aflatoxin that causes liver cancer. It also reduces the fat levels in the liver.
- It seems that garlic reduces your risk of a heart attack by at least 50% and your risk of developing stomach cancer by 50%
- My grandmother would suggest keeping a pod of garlic in the ear when we complained of an ear ache – it tackles ear infections.
- Peeled garlic crushed and boiled in milk is a good remedy for that gassy bloated feeling.
- Chewing garlic is supposed to ward off arthritis (and everyone else!)
Good reasons to enjoy garlic!
How anger can affect your mental health
Sometimes, life can get so irritating that it is hard not to get angry. While getting moderately angry is natural, some people get too worked up for their own good. Too much anger can affect mental health, as can suppressed anger.
Why anger is harmful
Anger is a major cause for mental health problems. It is a powerful emotion that results from frustration, hurt, exasperation or discontent. Slight irritation is fine. But constant strong rage is harmful.
Suppressed anger could result in mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and often destroy relationships. It also influences the thought and behaviour patterns of the individual leading to physical problems. Some people develop high blood pressure, heart disease, skin disorders from the stress, headaches and stomach upsets. As if all these weren’t enough, anger is also linked to crime, physical abuse and violence.
How to manage anger
Anger is not difficult to manage once you make up your mind to do it. Here are some steps you can take to help you dissolve that feeling of anger:
- When you begin to feel angry, deep breathing can calm you down. Positive self-talk can tone those angry thoughts. Relax or chant a soothing mantra until the feeling of anger subsides.
- We know that suppressing anger is not a good idea. It is better to express it – but remember to express it in the right way. Some people tend to fizz up with frequent outbursts, messing up their relationships with others. Flaring up often can also stress your nervous and cardiovascular system. Instead, use your assertiveness healthily to express how you feel and what you need.
- Get others’ support. Talk about it to someone you trust and try to change how you behave
- If you find it hard to predict when that spurt of anger hits you, keep track by keeping a log of which situations trigger it off.
- Try changing your perspective, preferably by getting into the other person’s shoes.
- Try laughing at yourself and spotting the humor in the situation
- Try being a good listener since being a good listener can improve communication skills and help build trust. This will help deal with your own negative emotions.
- Express yourself in a relaxed manner without getting defensive or emotionally worked up. There are several self-help books that can help deal with anger.
If you find your anger too tough to manage on your own, maybe you need the help of a mental health professional or a counselor. A qualified psychologist can work with you to come up with techniques to change your behaviour and thinking.
Stress is often linked to anger and managing your diet can help reduce stress and thereby, anger. This means avoiding foods rich in fat. Instead, a fiber-rich diet will provide the energy you need to work. High fat diets increase stress and are a good precursor to arteriosclerosis.
A healthy diet with nutritious meals is a must. Fresh fruits and vegetables help. Cut down on sugar and too much caffeine. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and fresh.
Stay healthy – mentally and physcially.
What do you do to manage your anger? Share your tips.
Are your eyes healthy?
Often referred to as the windows to our soul, our eyes are super-sensitive organs that help us to see. While am skeptical about the windows and soul story, I certainly believe that we should be conscious about eye-health and protect our vision. I’ll tell you why in a moment. I was born with a vision defect (which is not obvious now unless you try looking into my soul ) – I’ve got short sight and astigmatism. I am a voracious reader and my work depends on the ability to see. So let me share some tips with you on how to keep your eyes healthy. Here we go!
Strengthen your vision through nutrition:
Make sure you get enough antioxidant-rich foods such as Vitamin A, C and E. In fact, luteins and omega-3 fatty acids are being researched to prove that they can slow down age-related macular degeneration. Since most diets contain only a negligible amount of these nutrients that are required for healthy eyesight, take care to see that you get what you need.
There we go again! Exercise, besides its myriad benefits, also enhances our blood circulation, bringing more oxygen to the eyes and removing toxins.
Stick to a healthy diet
Did you know that high fat diets result in deposits that restrict the flow of blood in the arteries? If you didn’t, you do now. What’s important is that the eyes are extra-sensitive to this since the eyes’ blood vessels are delicate.
Healthy foods for the eyes are:
· Carrots and sweet potatoes for vitamin A and antioxidant beta carotene, potassium and fiber
- Oranges – vitamin C and potassium, fiber, calcium and folate
- Strawberries – vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin), fiber, and phytochemicals
- leafy greens and eggs – for lutein and zeaxanthin, iron, vitamin K and folate
· Nuts and seeds like almonds for vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids
· Fresh fruits – vitamin C
· Oily fish– Omega 3 fatty acids
· Oysters – antioxidant zinc
Kick the butt
Your cigarette butt, I mean. Give up smoking as smoking hinders blood flow to the eyes and also increases oxidative stress.
Guard your eyes
Wear eye protection to guard it from harmful UV rays. Look cool in a hat that has a brim to minimize the sunlight hitting your eyes. Sunglasses work too.
Get an eye check periodically
You never know when your vision can develop slight changes and the sooner you find out, the better, as you can get immediate attention and treatment.
Some really easy ways to bust stress
I missed being here on Tuesday because I had loads of stuff to do. Really needed to cool off a bit – and that gave me the idea for this post. There are plenty of ways to de-stress. While most are very readable, they can be tough to follow. So I thought I’d write about some fun and practical ways to feel less stressed. They worked for me and I am sure you’ll find them useful.
Yes, and it doesn’t matter even if you have two left feet like me. Just bust a move, turn up that music really loud and shake a leg – dance. An average person who weighs about 65 kgs can burn around 180 calories from forty minutes of energetic dancing.
You can actually escape from stress by watching TV. My guilty pleasure is those shows that make me laugh. There’s research to prove that laughing brings down stress hormones, reduces blood pressure, improves your immune system. Just don’t do too much of the TV thing.
I like to call it thought exchange. When your plate is overfull – rather than think “Oh, there’s too much on my plate” try thinking “Wow, that’s a feast!”. By being optimistic, you can reduce stress. Those who practice positive thinking enjoy additional health benefits that include a lower risk of coronary heart disease, better resistance to colds and flu and improved breathing. You also tend to cope better with life and yes, you live longer.
You can fight stress by running three or four times a week. Do it with friends or family. The average person can burn close to 270 calories from a 30-minute jog.
Cuddle up with your sweetie
That’s a cool prescription to relieve stress. Enjoy some quality time with someone you enjoy being with. Light some candles, enjoy a long bath, chill out. Let go of your stress.
Dark chocolate, I meant. It’s a lovely treat, tastes great and has antioxidants that help. But, remember to exercise control since it also brings on the fat and calories and we don’t want to start worrying about that!
Whether you enjoy gymming or working out on your own, exercise is a great stress reliever. The endorphins you release in the process are great for you and also help fight depression.
Play with your pet
Play with your pets or your neighbors’. It seems that petting a dog can lower your blood pressure.
Stretching with Pilates or Yoga can reduce stress, improve your balance and muscle tone, build your core strength and flexibility and build the immune system.
We’re back at relaxing – go out to your favorite restaurant for a meal. Take a nap or stretch out by the pool. Read a book.
Enjoy a drink and a movie
A glass of red wine + a funny movie can really take your mind off your stress. Red wine, according to studies, has antioxidants, anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. It is also said to lower your risk for heart disease when you drink in moderation.
Meditation or yoga classes can calm you in a big way. If you enjoy chanting, go ahead and do it. I like “Om” in a long-drawn-out way. Learned it at my son’s school. Meditation has long term benefits on mental, emotional and physical health. Moreover, you can do it anywhere.
If you can afford it, go to a spa and get a massage. Massage is a great way to de-stress, get rid of anxiety and pain, help yourself heal and strengthen the immune system. (Let me know if you want to know how to enjoy the spa-like stuff at home).
Do add your own tips in the comments section!
5 More Reasons to enjoy Dark Chocolate
Like you actually needed a reason to eat chocolate! There are not many people who actively hate chocolate. In fact, people who don’t usually crave it also like to binge on chocolate once in a while. Well – let me tell you why you can now grab that chocolate without feeling too guilty about it.
Studies show that chocolate, especially dark chocolate has some serious health benefits. Let us quickly see what they are:
1. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, which means it reduces the risk of healthy people developing diabetes. (Oh yes, any one can develop diabetes, any time). While the docs are not yet sure about how much dark chocolate you need to eat to enjoy the health benefit, I’d say it’s a good idea not to overdo it. Too much of anything is excess. A couple of (or three) pieces of dark chocolate once in a while is fine.
2. Dark chocolate has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help keep your heart healthy and it reduces the level of CRP (C-Reactive Protein) in the body. CRP is an indicator of inflammation in the body and the test results tell your doc about your risk of developing coronary disease.
3. Dark chocolate can make you feel full for a longer period compared to milk chocolate. It is also supposed to bring down your craving for sweet, fatty or salty food.
4. I guess you’ve already read that chocolate is rich in flavonoids – which behave like antioxidants in our body, absorbing free radicals and all those other bad things, the bottom line being – helping you stay healthy. Antioxidants help you stay young, as they slow the aging process. In milk chocolate, the milk is believed to get in the way of the chocolate’s antioxidants being absorbed by our body.
5. Dark chocolate also triggers the release of those happy chemicals in our brain – endorphins – and acts as an instant mood-upper. . So – go for that yummy dark chocolate to feel happier, and look younger.
These five reasons are good enough for me to enjoy some dark chocolate every now and then – how about you?
Portable Energy Boosters
Taking up from where I left off about those food frauds, I guess it is time to make amends – I know I crashed a lot of diets out there, including mine! So, the least I could do is bring you some really easy to make “energy bars” and “muffins”
Muffins are universally loved snacks, both for children and adults. Easy to pack, filling and tasty, these are really very easy to make. So let me begin by giving you the recipe for the basic Muffin mix; once you have this ready, you can actually store it and use it with different flavor variations and experiment
The basic muffin mix needs the following ingredients:
1 and a half cups flour – any flour or combi of flours
Half cup to three fourths cups sugar – depending on how sweet you like it
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Half tsp salt
In a mixing bowl, take the dry muffin mix, add four carrots skinned and grated, half cup apple juice, one egg, half tsp cinnamon and one third cups melted butter. Mix these well. Preheat over to 350 degrees F and bake the mix in muffin moulds for 15 to 20 minutes or until a fork plunged in the muffin comes off clean. Oh, you know what I mean!
In a mixing bowl, add the dry muffin mix, one and a half cup cooked oatmeal, one egg, one third cup melted butter, half tsp cinnamon and a fruit of your choice. Mix well – bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 15- 20 min.
Take mixing bowl, add dry muffin mix, one and a half cups applesauce, one egg, one third cup melted butter, half teaspoon cinnamon. Mix well. Bake in muffin moulds in 350 degree F preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
Now go experiment with different fruits and raisins.
You can substitute the sugar for honey according to taste, but that means you can make the “dry” muffin mix and store it.
This one’s healthy and you need: one and a half cups whole wheat flour, one cup rolled oats, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, half tsp salt, 2 eggs, one fourth cup cooking oil, one fourth cup honey, one fourth cup milk, three medium mashed bananas and half cup chocolate chips (optional, of course).
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Grease muffin pan or get those paper cupcake liners. In a bowl, add flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt an dmix well. Then make a… umm… well in the middle.
Take a bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add oil, honey, milk and bananas. Mix well. Pour this mix into that well in the other bowl and stir – so that everything is just about moist.
Now is the time to add the optional choco chips. Gently stir it in – do not mix too much. Its okay if the batter seems a bit lumpy or if you see flecks of flour. Fill those muffin cups to 3/4ths. Bake for 20 min. Enjoy.
Okay – some energy bars now!
You know how convenient energy bars are – I grew up with chikkis – and really loved the texture and taste. They make wonderful pre-post-workout snacks, in between meals or on the road. They also serve as yummy desserts. So, in three words, delicious, nutritious and lets face it – practical. I picked a no-bake recipe for you:
- Half cup dates, chopped
- Half cup figs, chopped
- Half cup raisins
- One fourth cup wheat germ
- Five tablespoons of non fat dry milk powder
- Half cup biscuit/cracker crumbs. Digestive biscuits work well
- Two teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Combine 1 to 5 in a food processor until it becomes a ball of dough.
Take a bowl and mix 6 and 7.
Roll the dough into balls and coat it with the crumbs.
You can keep this in an airtight container for a week or ten days.
Each ball has 240 cals, 54 g carbs, 2.5 g fat and 5.5 g protein.
The dry fruit gives you most of the carbs and cals, but it also gives you fiber. Enjoy.
Another no-bake energy bar recipe
- 1 cup rolled oats
- Half cup wheat germ
- Half cup oat bran
- Half cup vanilla protein powder
- One cup crunchy peanut butter
- One cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
- One cup chocolate chips
- One cup honey
Here comes the best part = mix 1 to 8 and freeze in bar shape.
Ok – now am off to eat thair saadam and vadu manga (curd rice and mango in brine) – do let me know how these turn out for you – and don’t hesitate to send me samples! (Are you listening, Nona and Nandini?)
The fun part with these recipes is – you can’t go wrong. You can mix and match, and it WILL taste great.
Oh, Those Food Frauds!
Over the last three or four months, I wrote quite a few press releases for restaurants that advertised “authentic” continental and Italian cuisine. Their menu had all kinds of exotic items. But then, I wondered, how healthy are these exciting dinners? And why are most people who frequent these restaurants and rave about the food, almost always overweight?
A little bit of investigating (from the comfort of my keyboard) brought home the fact that some of the foods we think are healthy can be sly little diet destroyers. So let’s look at why just a few of the yummy things we enjoy and eat are not as healthy as we think. But hey, I love my treats too – so I’ve added a food fix. Tell me what you think!
Seems like quite a popular choice in restaurants and just one bowl of this cool Caesar salad, adds on 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat. The culprit? The dressing of course! There are lots of variations of this salad. So how do you tackle it yet not give it up? Go for just one tablespoon of the dressing and two tablespoons of the cheese.
I love that word. Makes me think of fresh fruits all whisked into a nice – well – smoothie! But you know what? The so called blend, when you order it in a shop comes with almost 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories, no protein, and most likely, no fresh fruit. They use fruit concentrates in place of fresh fruits. Add the sorbet, the ice-cream and the sweeteners and you’ve got nothing more than a milkshake. I love milkshakes – but since we’re talking about health here – unless you’re making your own smoothie, watch out for the fraud part. If you have to order it outside, go for a small cup. Insist on fresh fruit, milk, and protein add-ons.
Energy bars are all the rage now. Thing is – most are dressed up candy bars and have more than 500 calories – and frankly – I think they’re expensive and often wonder how people are satisfied with a bar that size. Two bites – and its over. Ugh. Pick bars that state 200 calories or less and indicate at least some fiber and protein that give you that energy rush when the sugar rush is gone. Want an easy recipe for home made energy bars?
The word Burrito has a cool ring to it. And you’d think, with healthy beans what could be a problem? Lots of saturated fat, over a thousand calories, cheese, cream, fat in the tortilla – thank you very much. If you order one of those XXL size burritos – lets face it – you’re only adding to the problem. Solution? Share it with a friend. Or opt for those soft tacos with fajita type grilled veg on corn tortillas and some low-cal salsa.
When it comes to weight loss – “sugar-free” just about seems ideal. The hassle is when we go for artificially sweetened food or beverages and follow it up with that “big” order of fries or yum – dessert. This adds a generous 300 calories to the meal and if you’re not burning off what you take in, you’ll obviously gain weight! So don’t blame the sugar-free stuff. Solution? Watch what you take in.
That Milk Latte
So you ordered a latte with low fat milk and then went and topped it off with whipped cream. Not a smart move, because you just added over 550 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat. Way worse than a cheeseburger. Fact is, any sweet frothy drink is a diet enemy. So do some damage control with skim milk and say no to the whipped cream. Tough I know – but think how you’ll avoid almost 150 calories and about two-thirds of the bad fat.
Mmmmm… Muffins. Big frauds. If you think they’re the ideal snack or breakfast add-on, think again. They are mostly sugary cakes made from refined flour. So, a ready made muffin comes to you with about 500 cals and close to ten teaspoons of sugar. Horrified? Ha ha. Read those labels before you buy. Make sure you go for muffins that are made of whole grains. I have a lovely recipe for muffins. Want to know?
And that brings us to the multigrain scam. If your pack of bread or pasta or waffles says multigrain, head for the label right away. Quite a few of these are made from refined grains which means you just lost the fiber and some important nutrients. So, look for labels that say 100% whole grain. Opt for more fiber.
It really breaks my heart to write this – but I love iced tea. Unfortunately, the antioxidants in iced tea don’t qualify as health food. There’s too much added sugar here and a tall glass of the iced tea is actually a health hazard and piles on the calories and sugar. What you do is, skip the sweet tea and choose unsweetened iced tea. Add lemon – and enjoy that zing without the calories. You can also go for herbal teas without sugar as they’re naturally pleasant-tasting. Okay, making it yourself is best.
I haven’t tried making microwave popcorn – I prefer the age-old pressure cooker style from natural corn. But apparently these branded “microwave popcorn” packs come with bad fat and trans fat. Why feel guilty when you eat popcorn? If you buy branded ready to make popcorn read the labels and go for the low fat, low salt version with 0% trans fat. If you like cheese, sprinkle it on the low salt version for an almost fat-free flavor
Which automatically brings us to salted toppings. Whether it is salads or snacks, quite a few of them are loaded with salt. Here the first thing to remember is – anything that is canned is high in salt. One way to counter it is to rinse canned food and use. Or just go for the fresh version.
Yes, I saved the best for last. Sadly, deep-fried bananas do not count if you’re thinking fruits and veggies. So they don’t actually look greasy, but one ounce equals 150 calories, 10 grams fat and 8 grams saturated fat. Steel your heart, and eat a fresh banana instead. It has four times more nutrition, zero fat and a max of 100 calories. Most important – never eat straight out of the bag. It is dangerous.
Thing is, when it comes to food one likes, the word “don’t” almost always looks like a “just do it”. So – rather than give up your favorites – eat them in moderation and make small healthy changes!
Now I’ll wait for your feedback. And hey, topic suggestions are welcome.