Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maintaining ones weight during a months vacation in India

Long time since I wrote so here goes.

As we all know its very easy to let loose in India and just pig out and gain weight and often fall sick of an eating overdose. I can speak for myself and I can tell you that my stomach size has definitely shrunk...maybe not physically but I cannot stomach four parathas for breakfast and follow it up with another four for lunch. eating right and less is still the key that will work here.

I found my sponsor right at home. My mom...never forces me to add ghee to daal and rotis. Never forces me to eat sweets. But when i go home I definitely relish the things that mom prepares absolutely the best tasting in the world. [1] Idlis [2] Bhakris [3] Murukkus [4] Coconut Barfis

The secret is to still control quantity and select the time of the day when I would have these. All my breakfasts were the following choices
- Fruit  (Mostly bananas)
- Cereal
-  Poha
- Idlis

I would have the Bhakris always for lunch. Often a coconut barfi after lunch.

I almost always had a 1-2 murukkus a day at tea time with my tea.

Dinner was frugal with some home made porridge and milk

Another thing to do is to take as many opportunities to walk as possible, at least in the internal routes. To keep that little bit of exercise going.

While going out to eat at restaurants or at people's houses, just stay with munching carrots and salad and some lemonade. I used to eat prior to going out so that I don't feel attracted to nice smelling foods. I have better control over my tongue now but for a newcomer to this lifestyle its difficult.

And remember don't believe people when they say "Its holiday...You can pig out with no restrictions."

All this frugal eating, does it cause low energy ? Most certainly NOT. In fact in this present visit to India, I was working four to five hours a night to stay current with my office stuff. So less food translates to an alert mind. Also staying awake each night helped to beat the jet lag on my return. I never really changed my mental clock.

And another thing...India is often too warm to have a scotch or wine if u prefer these drinks and could often mess up the system. A beer is a better drink for the weather if u must let down your guard and get that C2H5OH in your system :-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Very tasty and nutritious of the shelf breakfast cereal

I have been having this with my morning tea for the past two weeks. I found it in Trader Joe's. Its called High Fiber Cereal. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A (almost) buttered toast thats delicious and not that many calories

So once in a while a (almost) buttered toast is a treat and also a nice mid day snack or a snack before I go to the gym. This is what I use for making it. I toast a slice of Sprouted Barley bread (Trade Joes) thats about 70 calories. Spread a teaspoon of 2% fat sour cream on it. Think of it like old fashioned freshly made white butter but far less calories. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and enjoy every bite.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another great veggie protien source

I used to always love eating Rajgira laddoos which are available easily and are very popular in the state of Maharashtra in India. As I was eating them (at first guiltily because these ladoos contain sugar/jaggery) I decided to read more about them and learnt that Rajgira is called Amarnath. 100g of this cereal comtains 15g of protein. Thats impressive.
Well, I am going to start getting this flour and seeing I can make tortillas or dosas out of this.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Importance of being hydrated at all times

I have realized the benefits of drinking lots of water throughout the day and keeping myself hydrated at all times. I used to drink one liter of water soon after walking up in the morning (after brushing my teeth). This is over and above the water I drink during the course of the day. I used to feel fresher than ever all day. One thing I can say with certainty is that I get lot fewer headaches as a result of keeping myself hydrated.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Point of no return

What I realize after being in this new eating style for 16 months is that its virtually impossible to go back to the old eating style. Not that I want to but even the couple of times I felt like indulging at a party or at a restaurant. Both times it resulted in a bad stomach upset. Whether it was Italian ravioli or Indian Samosas outside. The only kind of restaurants that I can eat with no fear of a stomach upset these days is Sweet Tomatoes / Fresh Choice. Also I can safely indulge :-) in the tapioca pudding - my favorite.

Healthy teeth as a side effect

A year into my new eating habit, I visited the dentist for my regular cleaning. I was pleasantly surprised when the dentist told me that there was very less plaque on my teeth. He attributed this to my eating lots of raw veggies like carrots, celery, radish and fruits such as apples.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Make your own power bars at home

This is how I make snack bars at home. The raw materials you need are walnuts, almonds, dates, sunflower seeds , dried figs and "roasted" whole chickpeas. All these you should be able to get at Costco with the exception of chickpeas which you will get in an Indian grocery store.

I keep a couple of these home made snack bars to much on during a mid day / mid afternoon snack. Or an hour before I go to the gym.

Lower calorie power bar
- Crush the roasted chickpeas into a powder using a blender or mixie (I use the Indian faithful Sumeet).
- Mash the dates into a dough like consistency. Wear rubber gloves to avoid dates getting into finger nails.
- Mix the roasted chickpeas flour and dates dough till everything mixes evenly.
- Shape the power bars into shape of your choice.

Higher calorie power bar
- Crush the almonds, walnuts (and or sunflower seeds) into a powder using a blender.
- Mash the dates (add figs if you like the taste) into a dough like consistency.
- Mix the nuts flour and dates dough till everything mixes evenly.
- Shape the power bars into shape of your choice.

One can add more stuff to the above like dried fruits like cranberries, blue berries(Trader Joes has some real cool dried blue berries), or sultans/resins

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Self restrain at parties

This is another challenge. How to "not upset the host" :-) and also have a nice time at the party or at a restaurant or in someone's home ? The best strategy is to eat at home before you step out. Nothing beats this. However here are a few ways to have fun from starters to dessert.

Also keep a box of Splenda minis dissolvable tablets in your car. In case the place you are going to does not have it.

Request for a cold club soda and squeeze a lemon into it and add Splenda. Munch on carrots, tomatoes, salad and celery along with your drink. Go easy on the dip.Its likely that it is not fat free.

The Buffet
Focus on lentils, soups, beans, veggies, yoghurt. Greens and beans are better than potatoes.

Fresh fruits like oranges, strawberries (with some fat free cream if possible). If yoghurt is available then add Splenda to it and have it as a dip for your fresh fruits

Food Substitutions

Instead of rice (brown, white) one can switch to wild rice (I get them at Trader Joe's) and Quinoa. Adding wild rice or Quinoa to soup or yoghurt tastes really great. Also one can make veggies Upma (usually made with semolina) with Quinoa

In Trader Joes they have a wide variety of high fiber dense brown breads. Go easy on too many nuts in the bread. Increases calories and one would put on weight. Oroweat has a dark rye (70 calorie per slice) bread (Shwarzwalder) . Good to treat oneself with a slice of this bread with soup for lunch.

Switch to fat free milk. Horizon Organic 0% milk brand tastes good.

One can treat onself to a couple of fat free cheese slices. Or fat free feta cheese mixed with chopped tomatoes and dash of salt+pepper

Rotis(tortilla) + Wheat Bran
If one must have a roti(tortilla) at a meal, then mix the flour with wheat bran (like a 50-50 by volume). Bobs Red Mill wheat bran (available at Lucky) is good and has lot of fiber

If one must have a small piece of dessert, try a small square of dark chocolate. Brands I have tried are Ghiradelli (86% cocoa) and Lindt (90% cocoa). At least these have very less sugar.

Two ways you can reduce oil intake. When one makes omlettes, take a kitchen paper towel and wipe the pan leaving only a thin film of oil which is sufficient to cook good tasting omlettes. Or one could use Pan Oil Spray.

Sweetening Breakfasts
If oatmeal at breakfast needs to taste sweet, one could add chopped dates(California Medjool are super sweet) or Splenda.

Fruit Juices
Eat the fruit instead of the juice. Juices are too sugary whether organic, or freshly squeezed Jamba Juice variety. Think about it. Around 10 or more Navel oranges are squeezed to give you a large helping of freshly squeezed juice. Ever tried eating Navel oranges in one shot ? Thats a lot of oranges. But eating the fuit gives you all the fiber along with the sugars. Thats way better.

Coffee or Tea
Now that ones food intake is reduced, its likely coffee might give one a stomach upset. It gives me a stomach upset specially if I have coffee on a not-so-full stomach. So I switched to drinking tea. I add ginger, mint to my tea to make it more interesting. Tea also possibly has less caffeine than coffee does.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A day in my life

I stopped eating the following (I will talk about some healthier options in another post)
- Rice (white/brown)
- Rotis(Tortillas)/Chappatis
- Poha (Flattened rice)
- Idlis
- Dosas
- Oil/Fat/Butter/Cheese
- Mithai / Sweets/ Chocolates/Icecream
- Snacks/Haldiraam Bhujia
- Eggs Yolk (Yellow)
- Sugared Sodas
- Fruit Juices
- Fat Milk (switched to Fat free - Love Horizon organic - tastes great)
- Added sugar to coffee/tea - used Splenda or no sugar

Breakfast options
ONE of the following
- A banana + 240ml cup of fat free milk (add Peets cocoa for some taste)
- One banana milk shake with no added sugar (use those spotted bananas - they taste wonderfully sweet)
- bowl of cornflakes + 240ml cup fat free milk + strawberries
- One packet of Oats - Irish Steel Cut if u have time. Else Quaker precooked packets

Midday Snack at 11:00am
ONE of the following
- 1 Orange - Navel Oranges from Costco are sure shot sweet
- 1 Apple
- 1 Asian Pear
- a small bowl of Boiled Kidney Beans with little Trader Joes Tomato soup + pepper for taste

Lunch Options
One of the following options

Option 1
- White Egg omlette - I have this microwave omlette maker u can get at Walmart/Target
- Bowl of Soup (I love all Trader Joe's veggie soups - tomato roasted peppers, squash)
- 1-2 oranges or Apples or Asian pears + 1 cup of fat free milk

Option 2
- 2 Bowls of Dhal + green Sabzi(little of no oil) + or Palakh Dhaal
- Add 2 tea spoons of brown rice if u want for some taste
- Cherry Tomatoes or carrots

Midafternoon Snack at 3:00pm
ONE of the following
- 1 Orange - Navel Oranges from Costco are sure shot sweet
- 1 Apple
- 1 Asian Pear
- a small bowl of Boiled Kidney Beans with little Trader Joes Tomato soup + pepper for taste

Just before Gym (1 hour before)
- A banana with 2-3 spoons of fat free dahi
(Prepare a protien pudding Natures Plus Spiru-Tein with fat free milk and Peets Cocoa - no sugar - This needs to be had immediately after the gym)

Do some weights - 30 min
Treadmill - 30minutes - at least 300 calories

After Gym
Protein Pudding after the gym

- Salad of apple/tomatoes + some Dhal or soup + brocholi
- 2 spoons Yoghurt (Dannon Greek Plain)

The challenge of staying hungrier than you are used to

This was my biggest challenge. To overcome this I imagined a "fitter" me in the future and this seemed to make me feel better. Not only was I eating smaller portions, I also began to eat small dinners. I have to admit that during the first few weeks of this changed eating style, I have woken up several times in the middle of the night - hungry, also a little grumpy. Often a glass of cold water or a little orange (zero calorie) soda helped.

I realized that the biggest benefit of eating small dinners is that I could eventually sleep much better on a hungrier stomach and woke up feeling like a baby - and yes very hungry and ready for breakfast.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Controlling food portions and eating better

The goal is to ingest less amount of food per meal. Many ways to go about it. This is what I did.

BREAKFAST (7:00 am)
Eat the eggs. No bread. Have a banana instead and fat free milk. I add a little splenda to my milk + Peets Cocoa (they have no sugar and the cocoa tastes very good). Eat fruits such as oranges (navel oranges are guaranteed sweet), grapes, strawberries.

LUNCH (12:30pm)
Eat veggies, salad, dal(lentils) , fat free (Dannon Greek is a great fat free low sugar yoghurt). No chappatis (tortillas) or rice.

DINNER (7:30pm)
Similar to lunch. Add egg white/tofu for proteins

In summary, no bread, no chappatis(tortillas), no rice.

Food is a medicine for your body

I asked myself in April 2009 - what if I consider food as medicine for my body ? Can I consider food as something that makes my body function better each day and makes be better - physically and mentally. This question led to many other questions like - How can I sustain my energy levels with less food ? Do I control my portions ? Do I entirely eliminate some things from my diet ? What do I substitute my diet with ?

I am not sure if my being a vegetarian (I dont ingest any animal kingdom) made it more difficult or easy. But I can tell you with certainty that the steps I took to change the things I eat and how much I eat altered my eating style all together. I lost over 30 lbs in 12 months . I could run 20 miles a week. The best part is that I could sustain my weight loss, and feel happy about the positive effects to my health.

My objective was never was to do this weight loss in anticipation of a year end wedding or party where I would go crazy and eat myself sick. I just wanted to feel better , happy and stay healthy.

Think about many times have you heard of someone falling sick by eating less ?