Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Overweight kids....what can we as parents do???

Post exams a regular influx in my office is parents of children who are most cases on their way to becoming obese. Long hours of studies, tuitions, exams & zero physical activity for months or maybe even for an entire year. Irony is, by the time they visit my office the parents are determined to enrol the child in a weight loss program in an attempt to make the child lose weight, where as the child is now in the mood to enjoy her new found  freedom for a couple of months. While the child was fed goodies throughout the year,she is now expected to eat healthy. A child who did nothing but sit for hours with her books for the entire year is now expected to suddenly get into a formal exercise program.

What is important is to first determine the cause of weight gain in children:
1) Faulty eating habits
2) Inactivity
3) Hormonal changes - common in children as they approach adolescence
4) Stress - very common in children, can cause release of the hormone cortisol which can cause weight gain.
5) Genetics

Once the cause is determined a appropriate weight loss plan can be put into action. However, it is crucial for parents to understand that a structured diet & exercise plan may fail miserably with children, especially those under the age of 12. Children at this age have little understanding of ’ideal weight' 'medical implications of obesity' 'health promoting foods' etc.

So what can we as parents do to help our children:

1) Change foods habits at home. Children imitate adults, hence if you eat healthy they will follow sooner or later.

2) Try modifying recipes of fast foods & so called 'junk' foods to something healthy (will upload some interesting options on our recipes page)

3) Try & make food look appealing & interesting...colours & forms attract children.

4) Avoid 'preaching' about healthy eating to children. Most kids react negatively when forced to eat particular foods. 

5) Limit the number of times you eat out & also restrict the number of times fast foods are cooked at home.

6) Make sure your child plays 'outdoors' for at least an hour each day. Caution here is to also make sure the time in spent in active play & not chit chatting.

7) Encourage your child to participate in at least one sport of her choice. That way there is a greater chance she may stick to the activity.

8) Limit computer & TV time to no more than 2 hours a day.

9) Obese children may also be conscious about their weight & may refuse to take part in outdoor activities. Make sure you watch out for signs of regression before you label your child 'lazy'.

10) Empathize with your child & take equal responsibility for her condition.

Healthy living

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Exercising during pregnancy......get fit for 2

A common question that most expectant mothers ask me..."What are the benefits of staying active during pregnancy?"

Following are some of the reasons why you should :
  • Feel better - At a time when a woman wonders if this strange body can possibly be hers, exercise can increase her sense of control and boost energy levels. Endorphins –the feel good hormones released by the brain reduce anxiety & stress levels
  • Relieve backaches and improve  posture by strengthening and toning muscles in the  back, buttocks and thighs
  • Reduce constipation by accelerating movement in the intestine
  • Prevent wear and tear of the  joints by activating the lubricating synovial fluid in the  joints which become loosened during pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes
  • Improves sleep  by relieving the stress and anxiety that might make the mother to be  restless at night
  • Look better - Exercise increases the blood flow to the  skin, giving it a healthy glow.
  • Reduce chances of pregnancy related diseases-exercising women have lesser chances of developing gestational diabetes & high blood pressure
  • Prepare mother  and her body for birth - Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. Gaining control over  breathing can help  manage pain. And in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.
  • Regain pre pregnancy body more quickly – exercising women tend to gain less fat weight during  pregnancy. Most of the weight that is gained is that of the fetus, placenta & body fluids. Hence it is easier to come back to pre pregnancy weight & body shape.
Exercise is a big plus for both mother and baby provided complications don't limit her ability to exercise throughout pregnancy. 

Healthy Living 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

5 tips for a healthy heart

A minimum of 30 minutes of any form of aerobic exercise 4 to 6 times a week helps keep the heart muscle strong & unclog arteries. Choose an activity that you enjoy such as walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, elliptical training, hi-low or step training. You know you’re working your heart if the activity makes you break out into a light sweat & leaves you ‘slightly’ out of breath.    

Include one serving of some raw fruit or vegetable with each meal. Fruits such as bananas, papaya, melons, guava , appleas well as vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber, raddish, carrot, bell peppers, salad leaves are not just a rich source of essential vitamins & minerals, they are also rich in insoluble fibre.  Also include foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as dalia, unpolished rice, whole wheat pasta, multi grain bread, ragi, bajra & jowar in your diet. The fibre from these foods, which includes both soluble as well as insoluble fibre helps bind cholesterol & excrete it out of the body.

Stress can be both physical as well as mental. Physical stress such as that caused due to physical work or exercise may not cause damage to the heart unless extreme. However, emotional stress, especially chronic can cause heart disease. Yoga, meditation & tai chi are some of the alternative methods that one can adapt to help one deal with the negative effects of stress. And of course nothing works better than a change in attitude.       

While high amounts of saturated fats & Trans fats are a complete no no as far as heart health goes, including up to 3 teaspoons of mono & poly unsaturated fats help lower the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) & raise the level of HDL (good cholesterol). Switch to sunflower, safflower, flax seed, Olive or canola oil in place of butter, palm oil & coconut oil. Additionally amongst various oils researched it has been found that Olive oil , due to its high content of mono unsaturated fatty acids & poly phenols result in a better HDL:LDL ratio.

It may provide momentary pleasure but the toxins in cigarette smoke cause plaques to form in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Smoking-related coronary heart disease may in the long run contribute to congestive heart failure. So switch to low – nicotine cigarettes or still better, simply kick the butt.   

Monday, April 04, 2011

(In) effective weight management…..the flip side

Raghav heads an MNC, eats all his meals on time, watches his food even when he travels, swims 5 times a week & plays football over the weekend. He has no medical reasons which could hinder weight loss.

Sunita, a mother of a 3 year old has been trying to desperately drop her pregnancy weight. She eats right, exercises daily & she no has no medical reasons which could hinder weight loss.

What then is causing Raghav, Sunita  & many others to struggle with their weight in spite of being so “on track”

Lack of sleep – Yes, its true…lack of sleep can cause ineffective weight loss &/or weight gain. This happens due to the interplay of the hormones Leptin ( a hormone produced in the fat cells whose job is to send a signal to the brain when you are full) & ghrelin ( a hormone produced in the gastrointestinal tract responsible for stimulating appetite). Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to drop which causes a person to feel less satisfied inspite of a full meal. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise causing an increase in appetite. Besides, less sleep would also means less energy when exercising which can affect performance & therefore the outcome.

Stress – An extremely demanding professional & domestic life is one of the major causes of stress in the present day scenario. Consistent high levels of stress without relief causes the body to produce high levels of the hormone Cortisol. Too much cortisol slows down metabolism causing weight gain or failure to lose weight. Additionally, high levels of stress may also contribute to  “emotional eating” which result in cravings for salty, fatty & sugary foods, none of which will help a person lose weight.

Body clock - Also know as the “circadian rhythm” the body clock coordinates the metabolic demands of the body’s daily wake/sleep cycle. When awake the body metabolizes food faster to provide energy in the form of calories. In the sleep phase, the digestive tract slows down, body temperature drops and mental alertness decreases. A disruption in this pattern leads to loss of muscle mass & weight gain – one of the reasons why globe trotters & those working in shift jobs seem to struggle with weight

Social norms – In accordance to family beliefs, even in today’s so called modern India there are societies who expect women to prioritise house work over their own wellbeing. Going to the gym, walking in the park or the beach are just some of the basics which are a no no for far too many Indian women. Strange but true, with no facilities at home, small houses, too many people living together, these women have no option but to forget about ever including exercise as a part of their routine. Besides, there is also a compulsion to cook food in a particular manner & without a choice eat what is cooked.

Fasting – It may appear to be a two in one option – lose weight & please the almighty but in reality fasting does more harm than aid in your attempt to lose weight. In the initial phase of fasting a person will experience loss of water, followed by lean muscle & very little fat. It further causes a reduction in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) & causes the body to conserve energy. The end result is weight gain even when a person begins to eat normal food without overeating.

Family support – Does your family consider your attempt to lose weight a fad or are they genuinely supportive to your cause? The success or failure of a weight management program will greatly depend on their stand. Encouragement, support & motivation from the immediate family will go a long way in helping the person cope with the challenges of a weight management program. Lapses & re-lapses are common to all those trying to control their weight, but the response of those within the family will go a long way in determining whether or not the lapse is permanent or temporary.

Unrealistic expectations – On an average most people aim at getting to their goal within 2 to 4 months. The number of kgs may vary – anything from 4 to 40 kgs – but the time limit – same. While expecting a weight loss of about 2 to 4 kgs a month is realistic, aiming at anything over 5 kgs is unrealistic. It is possible that a person may lose as much as 4 to 6 kgs in the first month or so but most of this initial loss is fluid & not “fat”. Failure to get to that dream number in record time can result in disappointment & in many cases cause the person to give up & even relapse.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Blogging......a new chapter!!!

Hello all,

One of the many things I wanted to accomplish…..finally did so today….
Am hoping to share my thoughts on various aspects of health, fitness & life in general.

Healthy living