Tag Archives: healthy diet

Understanding metabolic rate

We often hear about the metabolic rate. But do you really know what it is and how it affects our body? The metabolic rate is the minimum calorie requirement to sustain basic functioning of a human body. A person’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the biggest factor in determining their overall metabolic rate, as well as the number of calories they need in order to maintain, lose, or gain weight. A person’s BMR is determined by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Factors that affect metabolic rate

Age, gender, muscle mass, hormonal imbalance, hydration and nutrition are the factors that generally influence the metabolic rate. Let’s talk about them in detail.

Body composition: Fat tissue has a lower metabolic activity than muscle tissue. As lean muscle mass increases, metabolic rate increases.

Gender: The basal metabolic rate (BMR) averages 5 to 10 percent lower in women than in men. This is largely because women have more body fat and less muscle mass than men.

Age: A decrease in lean muscle mass during adulthood results in a slow, steady decline of roughly 3 percent per year in BMR after the age of about 30.

Hormonal levels: Thyroxine (T4), the key hormone released by the thyroid glands has a significant effect upon the metabolic rate. Hypothyroidism is relatively common, especially in women near or after menopause. Everyone with a weight problem should have their thyroid function checked by their doctor and treated appropriately if it turns out to be low.

Basically the long term factors needed keep a high metabolism are regular exercise / physical activity, sufficient rest/sleep and a healthy diet.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Is The Raw Food Diet Healthy?

People are constantly experimenting with food to lose weight. Some eat maple syrup all day while some eat raw or uncooked foods to get that size zero. Most fad diets are unhealthy. But sometimes even the more healthy seeming diets like the raw food diet may not be totally healthy. Let us tell you why eating raw food can or cannot be all that good for you.

Raw diet consists mainly of uncooked, unprocessed plant foods. Raw food is low in calorie and usually sourced naturally. Eating a raw diet full of fruits and vegetables has its advantages of getting plenty of vitamins and minerals but there are a lot of missing nutrients in this diet that can lead to severe deficiencies.

Vitamin B12 is the most common deficiency found in people that eat this diet. This nutrient is naturally available in animal sources and is critical to nerve and red blood cell development. Deficiencies can lead to anemia and neurological impairment.

This diet doesn’t have enough protein. According to ICMR minimum of 20-25% of adults daily calories should come from protein. Protein is a major component of all cells, including muscle and bone. It is needed for growth, development and immunity to fight off infections and protect the body.

This diet might help you lose weight because how much raw food can you actually eat. Besides unhealthy weight loss it also makes your immune system vulnerable putting you at higher risk of falling sick or catching infection. Raw food diet lacks lycopene, usually found in cooked tomatoes, which are responsible for plasma lycopene levels, which are thought to play a role in disease prevention.

Overcooking and heating is known to destroy nutrition in food. But did you know that cooking vegetables and beans actually enhances digestibility and absorption of many beneficial and nutritious compounds in the body? Cooking also helps destroy some of the harmful enzymes that interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body.

Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs much more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds (carotenoids and phytochemicals – especially lutein and lycopene) from cooked vegetables compared with raw. Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix (connective bands) to which the valuable compounds is bound.

Eating raw food is good for health and is an important feature of a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be raw to be in excellent health or lose weight. There are healthier ways to lose weight like eating a balanced diet and exercising. Our body requires all nutrients for optimum health.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

All About Vegan Diet

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.

A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them.

Difference between Vegetarian and a Vegan -

Some people may disagree with the meaning of vegetarianism. The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian).

The three main reasons people adopt veganism are -

1) Protecting Animals
Vegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference.

2) Environment
A vegan believes that producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources – resources that could be used for feeding humans.

3) Health
Eating too much of animal fats (mainly red meats) and too much of animal proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions.

Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fiber and other nutrients.

Advantages of Vegan Diet -

Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. They may help lower blood pressure and increases anti-oxidant intake. But you should check for the salt and potassium content, as you’ll likely to get more potassium than most.

Disadvantages of Vegan Diet -

Nutritionally animal foods too have their nutritional benefits. They are excellent source of complete protein, containing all the amino acids that human body needs to develop and maintain muscles. They are also excellent source of heme iron (which is very readily absorbed by the body) and Vitamin B12. B12 is critical for life and isn’t found in any amount in plants (except some types of algae), it is by far the most important nutrient that vegans must be concerned with. In fact, B12 deficiency is very common in vegans. Vegan diets are lower in vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. The EPIC-Oxford study suggested that vegans have an increased risk of bone fractures over meat eaters and vegetarians, likely because of lower dietary calcium intake.

Hence, eating a vegan diet may be good for health and may feature as a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be on vegan to be in excellent health. We should focus on balanced nutritional plan rather than a particular diet plan.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

A Health Tip for You, When Having Cold & Flu with Periods

Question / Dilemma: What should be my diet when I fall sick – cold and flu with my periods? Can something ensure a speedy recovery and give me enough energy to be able to go about my routine activities?

Answer: When you are suffering from cold and flu, and have also got your periods you must pack yourself with lot of vitamin-enriched foods such as fruits like apple or a pear. Consume loads of fluids to stay hydrated and energized, but liquid doesn’t mean fizzy drinks. Instead opt for anti-oxidant rich green teas – as many cups you want. And yes, eat on time. To deal with period’s pain, go for light workouts such as a little jog or walk.

Answered by Prachi Agarwal, first appeared in HT City (Hindustan Times), Get Healthy Delhi! campaign, where she is a Fitness Expert on the panel of health experts.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

10 Best Foods for Your Brain

A strong brain leads to a strong body and reflects a strong personality. Most of the stuff is written about the food that’s good for the body. But did you know the brain also has special requirements too.

Here are 10 best sources of that provide significant nutrients to the brain. And don’t worry! You don’t need to especially go to the market to collect brain food; you will find them in your cupboards and fridge. So, the health resides at your home.


Walnuts contain antioxidants, polyphenols that help protect from free radical damage & improve communication between neurons. That is why they are popularly known as the inducers of memory. Eating a handful of walnuts everyday can help improve memory up to 19 percent.


Commonly used as a “wake up” drink, researchers have recently stated that caffeine delivers visibly increased brain activity that stimulates short-term memory. Coffee is best had black for all its health benefits. But if you find it too bitter then you can add a shot of low fat milk & half a teaspoon of sugar.


Fishes are reservoirs of Omega-3 fatty acid which impacts the strength of a human brain. People having lower presence of omega-3 fatty acid in their blood cells are perceived to have smaller brains compared to those having high levels. So also have some brain food while indulging in delicacies.


No doubt, everyone has grown up hearing the benefits of spinach! And here we have come up with a brief of its one significant aspect that it is also a brain food. Spinach is a good source of magnesium that helps in dilating the blood vessels. Hence, it boosts the blood flow throughout the body and brain which results in better functioning of the brain.

Olive Oil

Another reason to switch to olive oil for cooking, in case you already haven’t!  Olive oil is a source of fatty acid and antioxidants (polyphenols) which nourish the brain as well as reduces inflammation of joints and cells.

Dark Chocolate

Almost everyone knows that chocolates are mood boosters. It releases dopamine (happy hormone), reduces your stress level and increases concentration. But did you know dark chocolate also enhances and improves the blood flow to the brain. A piece a day can be good for health.


Yogurt helps add vigour to your brain. It is also one of the foods for brain that feeds it with calcium. The lower presence of calcium in the body impacts adversely to various functions of the brain. This leads to the anxiety, irritability and slow thinking of the person. Best way to include yogurt to your diet is add it to your lunch & dinner.


The aroma of peppermint is far enough to communicate its refreshing aspect. Indeed, the fragrance of peppermint acts as a stimulant to brain and enhances the functioning of memory.  Try adding fresh peppermint leaves to your table water especially during hot summer days.


Vitamins & antioxidants present in oranges helps stimulate your brain and contribute to the healthy function of your brain cells.  There are fun ways to add oranges to your diet. Oranges can be added to your breakfast cereals, salads or simple chucks of fresh fruit to your water to give it a dash of flavour.


The lovable berries are also included in the list of brain food and play a very significant role in strengthening the brain. Indeed, the presence of flavonoids in berries prevents you from the Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the central nervous system.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Importance of Diabetes Diet

Some diseases can be silent predators, offering few or no warning signs to alert you early. One such disease is diabetes. Not only does diabetes affect almost 50. 8 million people in India, but 25 percent don’t even know they have it.

What Is Diabetes?

As food is digested, it is broken down into glucose (also known as sugar), which provides energy and powers our cells. Insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, moves the glucose from the blood to the cells. However, if there is not enough insulin or the insulin isn’t working properly, then the glucose stays in the blood and causes blood sugar levels to rise.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 result from the pancreas no longer being able to make insulin and is usually found in children, teens. The most common form of diabetes is type 2. Risk factors include being overweight; not getting enough physical activity; having a parent or sibling with diabetes; being African-American, Asian-American, Latino, Native American, or Pacific Islander; being a woman who had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds; having high blood pressure, having low HDL (good cholesterol) or high triglycerides; or having pre- diabetes.

Diabetes Diet : What is it all about?

Food can either promote diabetes or help prevent it, depending on how it affects the body’s ability to process glucose. People should avoid foods that cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and those that raise cholesterol, such as processed foods, foods high in saturated fats or with trans fats, and foods with added sugars and syrups.

Processed foods as well as items high in fat or sugar not only can disrupt the balance between glucose and insulin, resulting in inflammation, but can also contribute to risk factors such as being overweight.

Carbs, too, need to be watched. While they are necessary to fuel the body, some carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels more than others. “The glycemic index GI measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose in the body. Low GI measure foods raise blood glucose levels in blood slowly and keep you full for longer. High GI foods on the other hand include foods which cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and do not keep stomach full for sufficient time.

There is no specific diabetes diet. The important thing is to follow a meal plan that is tailored to personal preferences and lifestyle and helps achieve goals for blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, blood pressure, and weight management.

Research shows that both the amount and the type of carbohydrate in food affect blood glucose levels. Studies also show that the total amount of carbohydrate in food, in general, is a stronger predictor of blood glucose response than the GI. Dry beans and legumes, all non-starchy vegetables, and many whole-grain breads and cereals all have a low GI.

A Diabetes diet is virtually the same as a healthy diet for anyone. Eat reasonably sized portions to avoid gaining weight, and include Low GI fruits and vegetables; whole grains rather than processed ones; fish and lean cuts of meat; beans and legumes; and liquid oils. Limit saturated fats and high-calorie snacks and desserts like chips, cake, and ice cream, and stay away from trans fats altogether.

Thirty minutes of exercise most days of the week and losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight, if a person is overweight, are also crucial in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Finally, anyone experiencing frequent urination, extreme thirst or hunger, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision, or frequent infections should see a doctor for a blood test to check for diabetes. With careful attention and healthy lifestyle choices, diabetes can be kept under control.

Timing of meals in a Diabetes Diet

Planning a Diabetes diet is not simply a matter of “what one eats”, but also when one eats. One should not give long gaps between meals. A gap of more than 3.5-4 hrs can in-stabilize body glucose levels and can be fatal to diabetics. Regular monitoring of one’s sugar levels before going to bed and after waking up can help one keep a check on the levels and act accordingly to avoid any fatal consequences. If one checks blood glucose at bedtime and find it to be low, for example below 6 millomoles, it is advisable to take some long-acting carbohydrate before retiring to bed to prevent night-time hypoglycaemia. So it is not only the quantity or quality of meals that is to be manages but also the timings of consuming meals which has to be taken care of. A well planned Diabetes diet with all these guidelines followed properly, can help a diabetic, lead a normal life with control over diabetes!

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Importance of Skin Nutrition

The skin is one of the most powerful indicators of health. Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body’s internal needs, including its nutritional needs,” says Dr. Georgiana Donadio, founder of the National Institute of Whole Health.

Wrinkles, dry or oily skin, acne, and inflammation all are signs of poor internal health, often brought on by consuming unhealthful foods and avoiding skin nutrition problems. To treat skin problems, most people turn to mainstream topical cosmetics, including lotions, soaps, scrubs, toners, and creams. However, treating outer blemishes with expensive, chemical-laden beauty products does little to address the root cause of the problem, which is most cases is poor nutrition and exposure to toxins in dietary and personal care products.

A Recent research has shown that the skin reacts particularly well to certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish the skin, making it appear youthful and healthy. The following nutrients are among the very best to consume for healthy, young-looking skin and leads to good skin nutrition factor.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, or retinol, is one of the most widely acknowledged nutrients for healthy skin. It promotes cell turnover in the skin. It is effective in preventing the formation of comedones that cause the most common forms of acne.

Lack of vitamin A causes the skin to become keratinized and scaly, and mucus secretion is suppressed. Rough, dry skin is a common sign of vitamin A deficiency, which often first appears as rough, raised bumps on the back of the arms. So, in order to get rid of skin problems, one should start including good sources of Vitamin A in his or her diet and even pre-formed vitamin A, which is well absorbed by the body, can be found in a variety of traditional foods. The most vitamin A-rich foods are liver and cod liver oil, and green leafy vegetables, other sources include kidney, cream and butter from pastured cows, and egg yolks from pastured chickens.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been known for decades to play a crucial role in the regulation of the structural protein collagen, which is necessary for the extra cellular stability of the skin. A vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which is first manifested as rough dry skin and corkscrew hair growth as well as affect over all skin nutrition regime. Inadequate vitamin C is also known to contribute to the development of the common problem of hyperkeratosis pillaris (appearance of small bumps on the skin surface), as the follicles become damaged when collagen formation is impaired. Increasing the amount of vitamin C in the diet can contribute to improved skin health and faster healing. Observational studies have shown that diets high in vitamin C are associated with better skin appearance and less skin wrinkling. Higher intakes of dietary vitamin C have been correlated with a decreased level of dry skin, and also Vitamin C has an important role in wound healing.


Silica is a trace mineral that strengthens the body’s connective tissues – muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, cartilage, and bone – and is vital for healthy skin. Silica deficiency can result in reduced skin elasticity and can hamper the body’s ability to heal wounds. Food sources of silica include leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb. In its natural form, silica is found in the horsetail herb.


The mineral zinc is an important component of healthy skin, especially for acne sufferers. In fact, acne itself may be a symptom of zinc deficiency. Zinc acts by controlling the production of oil in the skin, and may also help control some of the hormones that create acne. Zinc is also required for proper immune system function, as well as for the maintenance of vision, taste, and smell. Zinc consumption is also strongly linked to a reduction of prostate cancer. Foods rich in zinc include fresh oysters, pumpkin seeds, ginger, pecans, Brazil nuts, oats, and eggs. Zinc can be purchased in supplement form, in both liquid concentrates and tablets.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Dry, inflamed skin or skin that suffers from the frequent appearance of whiteheads or blackheads can benefit from supplementing with essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially omega-3s. EFAs are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall flexibility, but because the body cannot produce its own EFAs, they must be obtained through the diet. Excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids are Salmon, Flaxseed, Sardines and Walnuts.

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that reduces the effects of sun exposure on the skin. When combined with vitamin A, vitamin E is especially effective at preventing certain skin cancers. Vitamin E also reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and, when applied topically, soothes dry or rough skin as well as proved to be a good skin nutrition source. Food sources of vitamin E include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, safflower and sunflower oils, almonds, spinach, peaches, prunes, tomatoes, cabbage, asparagus, and avocados.

Tips for Healthy Skin Nutrition:

1. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of plain water daily
2. Include fresh fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C, A & E in your daily diet. For e.g. Oranges, Sweet lime, Amla, Guava, Spinach, Lemon etc.
3. Snack on almonds and walnuts for better skin quality.
4. Avoid regular intake or alcohol or Smoking.
5. Follow a healthy & regular routine of balanced diet and exercise.

6.  Get regular sleep of 6-8 hrs every day.

A very famous saying is “You are what you eat”. What goes inside you, is what the outer skin reflects.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Dietary Guidelines For Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance, also called lactase deficiency and hypolactasia, is the inability to digest lactose, sugar found in milk and to a lesser extent milk-derived dairy products. Lactose intolerance is caused by reduced or absent activity of lactase that prevents the splitting of lactose (lactase deficiency). When lactose moves through the large intestine (colon) without being properly digested, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, belly pain, and bloating. Some people who have lactose intolerance cannot digest any milk products. Others can eat or drink small amounts of milk products or certain types of milk products without problems. Lactose intolerance is common in adults. It occurs more often in Native Americans and people of Asian, African, and South American descent than among people of European descent.

The amount of lactose an individual can tolerate varies from person to person.  Many people with lactose intolerance can tolerate some lactose-containing foods by adjusting the type, amount and timing of these foods.  Some patients may need to (or may choose to) limit or eliminate these foods completely. If you wish to include lactose-containing foods in your diet, the following suggestions given by UVA nutrition services may help the one to deal with the lactose intolerance problem. Always consult with your health expert  before making changes to your prescribed diet.


1. Add new foods one at a time; decrease the amount, or eliminate the food, if symptoms occur.

2. Most people with lactose intolerance do not need to avoid all dairy products, for example:

Cultured yogurt contains live cultures that naturally help digest lactose. Many people with lactose intolerance tolerate cultured yogurt well.  Check labels to see if a yogurt contains live cultures or hard cheese is low in lactose and is usually well tolerated

3. If you wish to drink milk, try taking small amounts (1/2 cup at a time). Many people can tolerate up to 2 cups of milk per day when taken in smaller servings spread out over the course of the day.

4. Foods that contain lactose may be better tolerated if they are eaten with a meal.

Foods made from certain dairy products (such as pudding, cream soups, cream or cheese  Sauces,  etc.)  also contain lactose.  The amount of lactose in a product will depend on the  amount of dairy products used. Other foods such as baked items, instant mixes, salad dressings , etc. may also contain lactose.  The following ingredients suggest a product contains lactose.

Butter, Caseinates, Cheese, Cream, Curds, Dry milk solids, Lactose, Milk, Milk by-products, Milk solids, Milk sugar, Non-fat dry milk powder, Skim milk solids, Whey, Yogurt

5. Lactose can also be found in medications:-

Check for lactose on the label, although it does not have to be listed; if you are very sensitive to lactose and have persistent symptoms, ask your pharmacist to help you.  Ask your doctor to prescribe a lactose-free alternative if one exists.

6. Specialty Products:-If you are not able to tolerate lactose-containing foods using the above suggestions, special products are available.  Keep in mind, not everyone with lactose intolerance needs special products; many people can tolerate regular dairy products by adjusting the type and amount consumed.

- 100% lactose reduced milk is available in the dairy section of most grocery stores.

- Available in nonfat, 1%, 2%, and whole milk varieties.

- Lactose reduced milk contains the same nutrition, including calcium and vitamin D as regular milk.

- Lactose reduced milk does cost a bit more than regular milk.

- Lactose reduced milk may taste sweeter than regular milk.

7. Lactase Enzyme Supplements

These products contain the enzyme lactase, which is needed for the digestion of lactose. Available in tablet or chewable form.

8.Other Products

Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk are lactose free.  If you plan to use these products as an alternative calcium and/or vitamin D source, read labels carefully and choose a brand which specifically states it contains these nutrients and in what amounts.

Calcium and Vitamin D

If you are on a low lactose diet, discuss your calcium and vitamin D intake with your physician or dietitian. Studies have shown that individuals with lactose intolerance often do not take in enough of these nutrients.  Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake increases the risk of osteoporosis.  A dietitian can help you determine whether you are getting enough of these nutrients in your diet.


There is no known way to prevent lactose intolerance. However, one can lead a healthy and normal life by managing their daily diet routine and incorporating products that are lactose free, yet with healthy nutrients. The key is to have balance of all vital nutrients and implementing guidelines that are meant for lactose intolerance condition.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Eat Balanced Diet For Healthy You

The amount and the type of food you eat has a major influence on your health. If you eat a well-balanced diet, it can reduce your risk of various diseases as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are certain times when it can be particularly important to make sure that you follow a healthy diet, for example, if you want to lose excess weight or if you’re watching what you eat because you’re pregnant. However, it’s important to eat a healthy diet throughout your life, no matter what age you are – there’s never a bad time to make some changes and improve your eating habits.

A balanced diet requires eating a variety of foods without consuming too much of any one. It also means eating certain things in moderation, namely saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol, refined sugar, salt and alcohol. The goal is to take in nutrients you need for health at the recommended levels. Each food is categorized into a different group based on its similarity in content to other foods within that same group.

Why is it important to eat balanced diet?

The purpose behind a balanced diet is to consume all of the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals which are essential for maintaining basic human physiological functions. These compounds aid in digestion and metabolism, help body tissue grow play an important role in hormones and assist the cell with its functions.


For Balanced diet one should need to eat a range of foods to get all of the nutrients and fiber your body needs. The five main food groups are:

* Starchy foods, which include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes

* Fruit and vegetables

* Milk and other dairy foods

* Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

* Foods high in fat or sugar

* Eat the right balance of foods from these groups to make sure your body gets all it needs to stay healthy

Getting The Balance Right!

Fruit and vegetables: Fruit and vegetables are a vital source of vitamins and minerals. It is advised that one should eat five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. There’s evidence that people who eat at least five portions a day are at lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Eating five portions is not as hard as it might sound. Just one apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit is one portion. A slice of pineapple or melon is one portion. Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables is another portion.

Starchy foods: Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta, maize are an important part of a healthy diet. They are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet. Starchy foods are fuel for your body.

Starchy foods should make up around one third of everything we eat. This means we should base our meals on these foods.

Try and choose whole-grain or wholemeal varieties, such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and brown whole-meal bread. They contain more fiber (often referred to as ‘roughage’), and usually more vitamins and minerals than white varieties.

Meat, fish, eggs and beans: These foods are all good sources of protein, which is essential for growth and repair of the body. They are also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals.

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and B vitamins. It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. Try to eat lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat. Always cook meat thoroughly.

Fish is another important source of protein, and contains many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim for at least two portions of fish/ chicken a week.

Eggs and pulses (including beans, nuts and seeds) are also great sources of protein. Nuts are high in fiber and a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat, but they do still contain high levels of fat, so eat them in moderation.

Milk and dairy foods: Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps to keep your bones healthy.

To enjoy the health benefits of dairy without eating too much fat, use semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk or 1% fat milks, lower-fat hard cheeses or cottage cheese, and lower-fat yogurt.

Fat and sugar: Fat and sugar are both sources of energy for the body, but when we eat too much of them we consume more energy than we burn, and this means that we put on weight. This can lead to obesity and also increases the various metabolic diseases in an individual.

Try to cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat and have smaller amounts of foods that are rich in unsaturated fat instead. For a healthy choice, use just a small amount of vegetable oil or reduced fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee. When having meat, choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat.

Failing to eat a balanced diet can be dangerous. A deficiency of any single nutrient may cause osteoporosis, muscle attenuation, irritation, skin irregularities, growth and development problems, anemia, suppressed functionality of the brain and nervous system and many other serious health concerns. A loss of zinc and protein, for instance, can cause dry, brittle and loose hair. These effects can range from subtle to serious. So in order to lead a happy and healthy life one should make a habit of following the balanced eating pattern in day to day life.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Pregnancy Diet

Pregnancy is the most beautiful phase in a woman’s life. It brings both emotional and physiological changes as well as it also poses extra demands on the body. In this phase the body needs extra nutrition for the developing fetus, for pregnant woman herself and also the lactation period to follow. Pregnancy Diet must be full of nutrition and healthy also.

Importance of Nutrition in The Diet in Pregnancy

These nutritional demands have to be met for a healthy child and mother because as the week progresses the organs and other system of the fetus start developing in mother’s womb and thus the energy used to create these systems (which actually comes from the energy and nutrients in the mother’s circulation, and around the lining of the womb) also starts to increase. The table below highlights the nutrients, its importance and food sources which should be included in a women’s pregnancy diet -



cell growth and blood production lean meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, beans, tofu
Carbohydrates daily energy production breads, cereals, rice, fruits, vegetables
Calcium strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve function milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach
Iron red blood cell production (to prevent anemia) All green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, methi and whole-grain cereals
Vitamin A healthy skin, good eyesight, growing bones carrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes
Vitamin C healthy gums, teeth, and bones; assistance with iron absorption citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, amla, guavas
Vitamin B6 red blood cell formation; effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates pork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananas
Vitamin B12 formation of red blood cells, maintaining nervous system health meat, fish, poultry, milk

(Note: vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products need supplemental B12)

Vitamin D healthy bones and teeth; aids absorption of calcium fortified milk, dairy products, cereals, and breads
Folic acid blood and protein production, effective enzyme function green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nuts
Fat body energy stores meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine, vegetable oils

(Note: limit fat intake to 30% or less of your total daily calorie intake

Recommended Nutrients in The Diet in Pregnancy

Nutrient Recommendation (Extra = Above RDA)
Energy Increase by 300 kcal (840 kJ) per day. Certain guidelines according to trimester.

1st trimester (1 to 12 weeks) – 10 kcals/day
2nd trimester (13 to 27 weeks) – 90 kcals/day
3rd trimester (27 to 40 weeks) – 200 kcals /day.

Proteins Extra 15 gms per day
Thiamin Increase in line with energy; increase by 0.1 mg per day
Riboflavin Needed for tissue growth; extra 0.3 mg per day
Niacin Regular supplementation/diet of substance. No increase required.
Folate Maintain plasma levels; extra 100 µg per day
Vitamin C Replenish drained maternal stores; extra 120 mg per day
Vitamin D Replenish plasma levels of vitamin 10 µg per day.
Calcium Needs no increase
Iron Extra 3 mg per day needed
Magnesium, zinc, and copper Normal supplementation or consumption.
Iodine Extra 100 µg per day.

Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

- Skip aerated or caffeine based beverages like coffee, tea and colas. Too much caffeine may affect the growth of baby. A recent study said that pregnant women who consume even about a cup of coffee everyday are at a higher risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.

- Avoid eating foods that have been prepared with maida.

- Try and cut down on eating foods that are high in sugar content.

- Sea-food that is high in mercury should be strictly avoided. Swordfish, shark and king mackerel are among these. Raw fish may contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While canned seafood is considered safe, skip smoked or frozen seafood like oysters, sushi, sashimi, and smoked salmon.

- Unpasteurized milk may contain listeria, which can cross the placenta and lead to infection or blood poisoning in the baby. Ensure that the milk you drink is pasteurized.

- Stay away from mould-ripened cheese (cheese that has a blue vein in it) like brie or camembert. Make sure you cook raw eggs. When the eggs are cooked, see that the yolk and white are firm.

- Avoid the consumption of smoking and drinking in day to day routine.

Healthy Pregnancy Diet Tips:-

- Have a piece of fresh fruit for a mid-morning or afternoon snack, instead of reaching for chocolates or biscuits.

- By carrying a small bottle of water when you are out ensures you are well hydrated, and not tempted by sugary soft drinks.

- Each week, prepare a couple of meals using beans, lentils and pulses.

- Add in your diet different healthy grains, such as barley, couscous or brown rice, in order to give variety to your favorite recipes.

- Choose low-fat dairy products

It is important to note that being pregnant doesn’t indicate that the mother to be has to consume food for two individuals, as she is supporting a life within her. The key to a healthy pregnancy is to consume a balanced diet with light and frequent meals throughout, and to regularly take the supplements or medicines prescribed by the doctor. One should also try, and be active, for e.g., go for walks or light

swimming or do pregnancy specific yoga [under supervision].

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo