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How to keep sickness away during monsoons?

Monsoons have just begun and higher officials are already anticipating some sick leaves due to an upset stomach or popular viral fever like dengue, leptospirosis or malaria. Of course, some  of you might simply cash in your sick leave to enjoy monsoon by your french window rather than drenching in knee deep water outside the station. For other who sincerely make to work irrespective of the size and time of the high tide, falling sick probably isn’t an option.  So, here’s what you should do to keep sickness away this monsoon:

  • Drink only boiled and filtered water. If you have purifiers at home or office, make sure the filters are serviced well in advance. If in doubt always boil the water before using. Bring it to a good bubbling boil, allow it to boil for a minute, then cool and drink it. If you run out of your boiled water, make sure you buy bottled water from an authentic source. Don’t be a hero, trying to flaunt how strong your immunity is!
  • Eat hot food and drink hot beverages with ginger added to eat. If you are eating out, refuse to eat food that is cold or has gone cold.
  • Absolutely avoid your favorite roadside chaat, no matter how hygienic you think the chaatwala is! Make your own chaat, if you are absolutely tempted.
  • Summers are gone; you yet need to drink good 2-3 litres of water. Most of us neglect this fact and do not drink enough water during monsoons.
  • Buy a soft scrub, especially to clean your veggies off the dirt and soil. Washing your veggies and fruits well, is very crucial to not falling sick during rainy seasons.
  • Avoid roadside cut fruits or fruit juices. Opt for tetrapak if desired.
  • Use a mosquito repellant readily available at a medical store. Clothes covering arms and legs are recommended to be worn during the rains.
  • Do not forget to empty water containers at least once a week, besides covering and sealing septic tanks and soak away pits. Stagnant water from coolers and other places should be removed.
  • Eat protein rich foods like chicken, eggs, soya, sprouts, dals pulses to help keep your immunity strong.
  • Fish is usually avoided during monsoons, as fresh produce is not readily available and it is also the mating season for the fish. But you can always eat almonds, walnuts and flaxseeds to get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Either lightly steam your salads or make sure you have washed them thoroughly. Eating warm salads during monsoons is always a better option. Onions, cucumbers, beetroot, carrot can be peeled and you need not steam them.
  • Make sure you eat seasonal fruits like apples, pear, peaches, and pomegranate.
  • Cook your green leafy veg well during monsoons. Prefer veggies like french beans, tinda, gavar, gourds, bitter gourd, turi, dudhi, padwal, suran, konfal or karela.
  • Don’t let the gloomy weather stop you from being active. A flooded neighborhood should not dampen your spirits to stay fit. Click here to know how you could stay active this monsoon. 

As Dolly Parton the legendary performer has rightly said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” And why not do it the healthy way?

©Ms. Sukhada Bhatte (RD, CDE-UK)

Some facts about diabetes that you cannot afford you ignore!

When we fall sick, we want to know when we will get better. Getting diabetes is a lot similar to falling sick, only that we need to make some healthy changes to our lifestyle to keep better throughout the life. It is a permanent condition wanting you to take care of your body. Remember living with diabetes is often similar to living a healthy lifestyle in which you cannot afford to take your health for granted. Here are some diabetes related facts you should always remember.

  • Diabetes is a lifelong condition which is treatable and can be kept under control, but, cannot be cured. But in years to come we might invent a vaccine or discover a cure to prevent or cure diabetes.
  • Once you are detected with diabetes you have to continue your medications either oral hypoglycaemic tablets or insulin for lifetime. It is very important to take these, to prevent diabetes related complications which lead to foot amputations, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack or stroke and kidney failure. So remember: NEVER FORGET YOUR DIABETES MEDICATION
  • Diet and exercise are most crucial in treating diabetes. By following a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your diabetes under control and prevent any diabetes related complications. Keep in mind that you are not sick yet, so get moving, and get enough fruit, veggies and whole grains in your diet.
  • If your blood sugars are consistently above 200 mg/dl, you need to take immediate actions. Modify your lifestyle; get your medications reviewed from your doctor.
  • If your blood sugars continue to remain high, your doctor may suggest starting insulin. Don’t be adamant and let him initiate insulin for your current increased need.
  • Remember: INSULIN IS NOT A POISON! It is a substance which your body normally produces to control blood sugar, but, if you have diabetes you may either lack insulin production/secretion or have increased demand for it such as in cases of fever or stress (meaning what little amount is produced is insufficient to meet the needs of your fever or infection)
  • Starting insulin in an acute stage such as fever or stress not only gets your sugars under control but also helps you prevent or ameliorate irreversible damage done to your body (eyes, kidneys, heart, legs, brain).  Once the demand goes down, you might have to continue small doses of insulin or the doctor may wean you off insulin and start you back on your oral hypoglycaemic drugs.
  • A lot of foods like cinnamon or jamun act as adjuncts for your diabetes. Don’t fall prey to petty advertisements which claim that they can cure diabetes. Remember: To this date there is no miracle cure for diabetes!
  • It is also important that you monitor your blood sugars regularly especially on days you are feeling unwell. Just as you check your bank balance every month, you got to know where you stand in terms of your diabetes management. Keep a glucometer at home and get checked at a lab at least once a year.
  • Last but not the least; make sure you visit your diabetologist and dietitian annually. If you feel unwell in-between, you should consider meeting them. Try and work closely with them as a team.

Here’s wishing that this write-up helps prevent diabetes related complications. Diabetes may or may not be prevented, but mind you, diabetes related complications can be!

PS: It is quite unfortunate how people ignore diabetes. It is sad to see this ignorance leading to horrid diabetes related complications. Every day, we see educated and uneducated people get foot amputations, paralysis (stroke), heart attacks, retinopathy (blindness), simply because of ignoring their diabetes. Please spread this article and help us reach to people and educate them about diabetes prevention.


©Ms. Sukhada Bhatte (RD, CDE-UK)

How to knock off some weight at a wedding!

It’s pouring outside and yet some of us are getting decked for a wedding function or an engagement. Yes, wedding seasons nowadays are not restricted to a few months of the year. Does that mean you should be all the more careful to try and keep up with your healthy eating regime? Here are some simple tips to help you enjoy the wedding yet, keep up with your diet!

  • As a beverage choice, choose water or unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars. Absolutely avoid aerated drinks. If there is alcohol not more than 2 pegs (30ml) a day.
  • Opt for whole-wheat or whole grain roti or bread. Even fermented breads like idli, dosa, appams are ok. Say no to maida rotis as much as possible. 
  • Try and start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner. Select green salads or salads without mayo dressings.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebabs, tawa sabjis (ask for little of the gravy), kadai veg (ones without kaju based gravies)
  • Choose steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
  • Choose a small” or “medium” portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages. 
  • Do not stuff your plate in one go. Take smaller helpings and wait for a while before you go for a second helping.
  • Take starter plates to make sure you take the right portions. A larger plate gives you a chance to stuff your platter with more than you can eat!
  • If you are a rice lover, then try and take a smaller portion first. Remember a heaped portion is a larger portion than it appears. Try and club roti and rice, so that you don’t overeat rice.
  • If the main dishes are very oily and unhealthy, opt for tandoor starters or grilled items on the menu.
  • Share a desert with a friend or a relative, if the portion size is too big.
  • Resign from the “clean your plate club” - when you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest. I know, its inappropriate to leave food on your plate at a wedding. However, if you are at a buffet, chances are you have stuffed your plate with more than you can eat. In such a case, excuse yourself and refrain from cleaning your plate.
  • Add little or no butter to your food. Remember dry rotis, wait for fresh ones if you have to.
  • Choose fruits for dessert if they are available.               
  • Most importantly try and stay active. It is a common tradition to dance at various functions at an Indian wedding and a perfect way to catch up with your exercise while at a wedding!

© Ms. Sukhada Bhatte (RD, CDE-UK)

Staying fit on a rainy day!

A cup of ginger tea and some yummy fried onion bhajias with a book to read at the window makes an amazing monsoon evening. It is almost tempting to curl up on your couch under the blanket and sleep for hours together. Given the amazing weather, monsoon has been the perpetual excuse for lazy buds to skip exercise for another few months.

Why wait till the end of monsoon, when you can get fit while it is raining outside! Here are 10 tips on how to be active during monsoons.

Whoever said gardening is not an option for a Mumbaikar doesn’t know how to do it! Gather the kids in your society and plant some trees in your building compound or on a nearby ground or simply your balcony. Taking care of the plant during rains is a good and relaxing way to stay active and it’s comforting to see the plant bloom!

De-clutter your refrigerator and clean it thoroughly. Not only will it give you the chance to make space for healthier options in the fridge, but the entire cleaning process takes about an hour or two, keeping you active on a rainy day.

Even reorganize the kitchen if it keeps you moving: bend down and reach up to move those appliances and pans around!  Instead of spending time as a couch potato to avoid cleaning the windows, get up and do it anyways because it will keep you active!

Jump a rope while watching television or simply listening to music. During a commercial break, jump rope at a comfortable pace until the show resumes. Pace yourself and set goals. If you have shortness of breath early on, set a goal to finish 10 jumps, and rest 5 to 10 seconds between jumps. The point of the exercise is to increase your heart rate.

Take stairs instead of an elevator. Every floor counts. Just, be aware if you have a knee problem.

Clean your attic. We do keep our homes clean, even though, we tend to stock things we no longer use or need. This is the perfect time to get rid of unwanted stuff, making way for some positive energy- everything whilst being active on a rainy day!

Get a resistance band. The number of exercises you can perform using a resistance band is unlimited. Try it, you will be surprised how energised it leaves you!

Join a club that takes you on a trek to a nearby forest. Its a fun getaway and keeps you fit! Make sure you wear proper attire and shoes to avoid any injuries.

Some say swimming during rains is insane! But if you have access to a good pool or even better an indoor pool, swimming is an excellent exercise for the monsoons.

Sign up for zumba, dancing, yoga or pilates in a nearby club, it is a fun way to stay active.

Last but not the least, the age old a gym membership with a motivating trainer is a good and effective way to keep fit in doors.

The weather during monsoons could be gloomy and make you want to do nothing. But still get up and brighten your day with these simple ways to stay active and don’t forget to be careful!


How to make the most of your dietitian’s visit!

A good and honest communiqué with your dietitian is the key to making your diet and lifestyle changes work for you.  Make the most of your dietitian’s visit with these ten helpful tips:

1.       How does my current diet and lifestyle pattern affect my health? It is important to know why certain dietary changes have been made to your current meal pattern. This helps you stick to your diet regime for a longer period.

2.       How will this consultation help me achieve my goals? Discussing this ensures you know how it’s all going to work for you.

3.       Do remember to discuss and set your health goals with your dietitian. Then do ask, ‘when will I see the results?’ We often expect results overnight. A good healthy diet on the other hand is your slow medicine. Setting realistic goals in accordance with your dietitian, guarantees you won’t be tempted to do anything unhealthy or push yourself to achieve unrealistic targets. Especially if you are on a weight loss or gain program, make sure you know how much you would lose or gain in a week.

4.       What should I do if I am not able to follow what you have prescribed? Can I contact you again? A well planned evidence based diet and lifestyle on paper won’t work for you, if you don’t follow what’s in it. So, make sure, you are able to follow it or else request  for a revision. Remember, if you can’t follow it, it’s like a prescription from a doctor, but you never really ate the tablet!

5.       Is exercising indispensable for me? Although, any dietitian would say it is absolutely crucial, it leaves an impact when you hear it from the horse’s mouth! Do chat about how comfortable you are with the exercises prescribed and what could be your alternatives.

6.       An absolute essential question is to find out if the prescribed diet is a balanced combination of carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. You may be given different proportion of these, depending on your condition, however, if a particular nutrient is skipped, you ought to reason out why? For eg: Skipping carbohydrates is a rage in current weight loss diets and is not recommended at all.

7.       If you are prescribed supplements or protein powders, make sure you find out why! Is it because you don’t meet your requirements through your diet or is it because you have an increased need for it?  If you aren’t meeting your requirements through the diet, reason out why you can’t meet it through diet alone!

8.       Will the prescribed meal and exercise pattern have an interaction with your current medication? Discuss in detail how your prescribed diet will have an impact on the dosage and timings of your medication.

9.       Never visit a dietitian for a temporary or a miracle fix! Though healthy changes to your meal and exercise pattern should become a lifetime habit, but if you have certain medical conditions, your diet will be planned for the condition. In such a case, one your condition is better, do discuss with your dietitian, which of her instructions you should be following for the lifetime!

10.   Do make sure you visit a qualified dietitian who is registered with the Indian Dietetic Association or a qualified sports nutritionist. It is important for your well being that you get evidence based information that doesn’t harm your health.

 Last but not the least; do make notes when you ask these questions to the dietitian.

 Authored by:

© Ms. Sukhada Bhatte (RD, CDE-UK)

Director Poshan Nutrition Clinic Mumbai

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