The Bridal Bible — Pune Mirror November 2014


Being fit is by far the most significant part of looking good. And if you’ve been feeling a little out of shape, it’s time to get it just right before D-day. “Make it a priority and begin at least six weeks before the wedding,” advises Rita Date, nutritionist and author of What’s for Lunch. At least 45 minutes of cardio for five days a week and weight training thrice a week is the key, she says.


The correct diet will not only see you healthy but will also help improve your looks greatly. Says Date: “Do not crash diet. A “diet” is not about short term — it should be a lifestyle. The food you eat affect not just your body but your mind, organs and more importantly for a bride, your skin.”

Date gives a lowdown on the do’s and don’ts of the wedding diet:

► Avoid processed food, alcohol, too much caffeine, maida and sugar before the wedding to ensure good skin and weight loss

► Eat a variety and lots of vegetables — they are high on fibre, help blood circulation, support the skin’s elasticity and give you the antioxidants you need.

► Eating out is a great way to pack on the pounds. Chaat, heavy gravies and desserts all help gain weight. If it’s unavoidable, choose wisely — roti and tandoor instead of butter paneer and naan for example. Plan your meals out in advance.

► In Pune, there is the custom of “kelvan”, where family and friends hold a dinner in the honour of your wedding. These heavy meals can also cause weight gain. Ask your family and friends to serve some healthy fare. Use portion control.

► While we can try and get as many sources of vitamins as possible from our diet, sometimes supplements may be required. Lack of vitamin B or iron can decrease your energy levels. Get checked for anaemia (iron), vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. If you are deficient, take supplements after consulting your doctor.

► Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep causes you to overeat, and overeat fatty foods. Manage stress — exercise, pranayama, or whatever makes you happy.

► Avoid bloating, especially when the big day gets closer. Eat slowly to reduce the amount of air that gets swallowed. Avoid soft drinks or any other fizzy drinks —including sweet lime soda and diet sodas. Fake sweeteners like sorbitol and aspartame are not easily digestible — bubbles equal gas.

► Salted lassies with jeera or ginger (made at home) are a good and you should have them everyday. They are rich in good bacteria, so they too can help you avoid bloating.

Bone of Contention — Published in Pune Mirror October 19, 2014

Early detection and care is the only way to combat osteoporosis.

A test conducted last year by a team of doctors on 150 police personnel on active duty in Pune revealed something alarming. Nearly 50 of them, both men and women, tested positive for osteopenia — an earlier stage of osteoporosis, a condition characterised by extremely weakened bones. Referred to as a silent killer, like diabetes, osteoporosis has taken on the proportions of an epidemic with nearly 50 per cent of the Indian
population, especially women, suffering from it.

“I get upto 10 cases every week,” says Dr Abhijit Joshi, a city-based orthopedic surgeon.

Osteoporosis involves the weakening of bones to the extent that the patient suffers from fractures even due to trivial falls, especially in the wrists, hip joint and vertebrae. While the condition can’t be prevented, it can be considerably delayed if detected at the osteopenia stage.

“It’s caused by hormonal imbalances, especially in menopausal women, though a large number of men suffer from it too. The onset of the condition can be kept at bay or at least delayed if a person exercises regularly and ensures sufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium from direct sources rather than in the form of supplements,” says Dr Murtaza Adeeb, a joint replacement and sports medicine surgeon based out of Pune.

What’s more, specifically in the urban population, osteoporosis tends to occur at a younger age to Indians compared to their western counterparts, and is manifest from the age of 50 upwards. With October 20 being marked as World Osteoporosis Day, there couldn’t be a better time to equip oneself against this silent killer.

Know the signs

While osteopenia, unfortunately, doesn’t manifest itself in symptoms, osteoporosis does have a few defining markers. “A general symptom is body aches and pains, especially in the shin bones, arms and the back,” says Adeeb.

The second sign — which is when your orthopedic asks you to take the DEXA scan or ultrasound bone density tests that detect osteoporosis — is a series of fractures within a short time or low-intensity fractures, caused by trivial falls that wouldn’t normally result in fractures.

Fight the enemy

Detecting the disease at an early stage, i.e. osteopenia, is very beneficial. “One should start testing for osteopenia from the age of 45. The earlier the detection, the better the chances of the condition being stalled,” says Joshi.

Regular exercise is an absolute must, say the doctors. Walking for at least 150 minutes a week along with weight training would help to strengthen bones. Obesity is a strict no-no.

“Combine strength-training exercises (weights/yoga) with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, skipping, and impact-producing sports — mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips
and lower spine,” advises nutritionist and food writer Rita Date.

Regulation of one’s diet is also very important. Vitamin D and calcium deficiency play a significant role in augmenting the condition. “There should be an intake of 500 mg to 1 g calcium every day. Many people take a supplement of 250 g under the misconception that it’s enough,” says Joshi. Vitamin D3 supplements are now available in the form of drops (for children) and granules — incidentally, it also helps to keep diabetes under control.

Stay away from steroids. “In India prescription of steroids is not regulated. A side effect of steroids is osteoporosis,” warns Adeeb.


Rita Date suggests the perfect diet to build strong bones

1 Get enough calcium. Pre-menopausal women need at least 1,000mg of calcium a day and post-menopausal women need 1,200 mg. The best sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, dahi, buttermilk, paneer, and cheese. They should be the low fat variety (the malai should be taken off after boiling).

Quantity of calcium got from:

♦ 1 cup dahi – 450 mg
♦ 1 glass milk – 300 mg
♦ 1 glass buttermilk – 280 mg
♦ 100 g paneer – 200 mg
♦ 100 g cheese – 500 mg (app)
♦ Also, 100 g of canned sardines or salmon has 325 mg calcium

Some vegan sources:
♦ Sesame seeds – 50 g contains 500 mg
♦ Rajgira (amaranth): 1 cup contains 275 mg
♦ Tofu – 1/2 cup has 250 mg
♦ Liquid gud (molasses) – 1 tbs has 170 mg
♦ Almonds – 50 almonds contains 130 mg
♦ Soybeans – 1 cup has 175 mg
♦ Broccoli – 1 cup has 95 mg
♦ Black currant – 1 cup has 60 mg
♦ Fig – 1/2 cup has 120 mg
♦ Green leafy vegetables – amount varies
2 Vitamin D is required for your body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D. Although we have plenty of sunlight in India, we are still not getting enough since we tend to avoid the sun.Scientists are still researching the optimal daily dose of vitamin D. A good starting point for adults is 600 to 800 international units (IU) a day, through food or supplements. Teens and adults can safely take up to 4,000 international units (IU) a day. Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon are good sources of vitamin D.

Take calcium and vitamin D supplements if you are deficient. A doctor or dietician will recommend the right one.

Child Obesity Month…Published in Pune Mirror, September 30, 2012

Do you remember your school days when the fat kids in class were made fun of? Usually there were one or two overweight kids in the class that were ridiculed with names like motu, or hathi. If you know of this scenario, chances are that you are at least 25 years old. These days if you go to any private school in Pune you will notice that there are not just one or two, but loads of overweight children — in some cases they surpass the thin kids.

The increase in obesity has happened in a relatively short period of time and the statistics are alarming. September is Child Obesity Month — an issue that urgently needs to be addressed collectively by parents, schools and health officials.

In urban India 20% of children and adolescents are classified as unhealthily overweight according to a study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Having a body mass index(BMI) of over 25 is considered overweight and a BMI over 30 is obese. How this change happened is obvious — the increased consumption of junk foods and decrease in energy expenditure or exercise equals more kilos on the body.

Junk food is not a new phenomena. Our grandparents had chewda, namkeen, ladoos and other sweets as junk foods. These foods however were usually eaten on special occasions, for example the Puneri Diwali faral. Now diet consists of both Indian junk foods as well as western cakes, cookies and chips on a regular basis. Kids also used to walk or bike to school and played outdoors as much as possible and be in front of the television. To meet friends you had to go out and meet them, not connect with them through Facebook or Skype. The combination of working moms with less time and the competitive nature of our education system has created stressed out families, just compounding the problem.

Aesthetics aside, extra weight on children has other dire health implications. A study conducted by AIIMS on overweight and obese children in Delhi showed that 10% had abnormal glucose levels and 40% had abnormal cholesterol levels. Of the same children 43% did not eat fruits and vegetables everyday, 37% ate sweets and desserts on a daily basis, 62% did not have fixed timing for meals or snacks. Studies show that overweight children have ten times the chance of being overweight adults — adults with higher risk of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. More frightening studies show that being overweight in childhood increases your chances of heart disease as early as 25 years of age.

Fixing this problem is complex. On a public level there are two things that are feasible. First town planning — there have been provisions for open spaces that are reserved for recreational parks for children to run around and play. Secondly, enforcements on transfat bans and truthful food labeling are necessary. As a community we need to emphasize the importance of a healthy diet and place less importance on food being the center of all events.

Schools to some degrees are trying to educate parents and students on health and nutrition. For example, Symbiosis Primary and Secondary Schools give yearly health check up for their students. BMI is monitored and doctors give advice to parents about ideal weight. Vikhe Patil organizes lectures on nutrition for the parents and students. St. Marys limits junk food in students’ tiffins to Friday — one day a week.

Parents know how difficult it is to get kids off the screens — both TV and the computer. If you are constantly negotiating with your children about screen time, then you are on the right track. Setting limits on screen time and insisting on daily exercise is the only way to keep your kids healthy. Here are a few action points that can be taken by parents now:

1. Emphasize fitness and not weight. Unless your children are very obese and under the care of a nutrionist/doctor for their weight problem then do not weigh your children on a regular basis.

2. Initially keep small fitness goals such as running 1000 metres or doing 20 push-ups. Use positive reinforcements — never berate or make fun of your child for his/her weight. After achieving small goals then kids feel better about themselves and are most likely to make healthier food choices.

3. Marks are important, no doubt, but health of children should be the primary concern for parents. Focus on other extra-curricular activities and insist on a sports based activity every single day. Even during the ever-so important 10th and 12th standard years of study, at least 45 minutes of exercise is necessary. Physical activity relieves stress and can rejuvenate a tired brain.

4. Extra classes are often necessary in our school system but ensure that your child is getting proper nutrition as they hop from one class to another. Taking something from home is much better than eating vada-pavfrom a tapri.

5. Limit dessert and soft drinks to once a week. Limitations make children understand that these items are treats. Sugar has addictive properties and if they are used to having sodas and chocolates everyday then their body will them crave daily. If your children are secretly consuming them, don’t fight. In most cases the kids will feel guilty for lying to their mom and dad and will reduce the banned goods themselves.(Emphasis on “most cases.”)

6. Pack healthy tiffins. You pack fruit and nuts for snacks in your child’s tiffin but their friends are bringing namkeen and cream rolls — this is a constant battle that make parents feel their children are getting unhealthy foods as they are sharing other kids unhealthy tiffins — so what’s the point of sending expensive dry fruits? Difficult dilemma, but keep at it. You can be flexible. The middle ground is healthy Indian snacks(preferably made at home or bought from a known source) — chaklis, certain laddos such as besan, and peanut chikki have some good nutritional properties. Store bought cakes and pasties, on the other hand, are filled with transfats and preservatives.

7. Kids many times turn food for comfort when they are feeling low — instead they should turn to their parents, friends and relatives. Keep a good line of communication. Boosting your child’s self esteem makes a confident and happy child.

8. Finally set a good example. What is the message kids will get if they see their parents eating chaat and gulab jamun regularly and not exercising!

It’s not easy — getting your child to eat right when there are so many temptations is easier said than done. Take small steps and don’t get frustrated. Change does not happen immediately. Keep them motivated to stay healthy with fun exercise and healthy treats.