Meatless Monday

Jan 31, 2012
I have finally decided to join the Meatless Monday bandwagon..Basically it means not eating meat on Monday! I was not aware that Meatless Monday is actually a huge non-profit campaign that started in 2003 to reduce the consumption of meat (of course) and are pretty active globally too-23 countries and growing..that is amazing :)

Last year, I was more of a flexitarian (semi-vegeterian)..but since I moved to Dallas I feel like I have been eating way too much meat! I know I cannot do without curries, mo:mo, chops you name it but I do miss out on vegetables..And certainly does not help if your house mate who happens to be my brother is not much of a veggie lover! I am also surrounded by friends and families who are always inviting me for dinner-no i am not complaining :) dinner is not complete without some meat dish, right? 

So why Monday? Well, the reasoning behind Meatless Monday totally made sense to me..Most of us begin our week on Monday right, so after laid back weekend and large buffets, it is a perfect day to start your week right by making some positive changes in your lifestyle!! Also, normally you do not get invited over for dinners on Monday..Works for me!

Is meat bad? Not at all!! 
Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals but the main culprit is our portion sizes, the way we cook the meat, and the fact that do not get other vitamins, minerals, and fiber from vegetables! Another thing to keep in mind is-meat is a source of saturated or bad fats that may cause heart diseases, increases risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes. Naturally vegetables are lower in calorie, so at least reducing the meat consumption by a day may help you with weight management.

There is an increasing trend towards vegetarianism and the reasons are countless-personal preference, religion, health issues, animal rights, and so on..while some of us are meat-lovers and I am here trying to find a balance between the two...It does not matter what you choose to eat for yourself, as long as you are getting all your essential nutrients for the body..With this new regimen, I am looking forward to explore different vegetables that are out there and try out new recipes! 

Wish me luck and share any ideas/recipes! 

Are you Regular ?

Jan 26, 2012
Among many health topics, constipation is not exactly considered polite, it is rather avoided and ignored by many of us thinking it is not a big deal..But believe it or not there are at least 2.5 million doctor visits for constipation in the USA each year and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent for laxatives yearly (source: American College of Gastroenterology).

 In simple term, constipation is basically difficulty with your bowel movements or number two which we all like to call..there could be too much straining during your bowel movements, passage of small, hard stools or you may feel like your bowels are not completely empty...You may think you are constipated if you did not go for a day or something..But that is not true..depending upon the person and their GI tract, it could be three times a day or three times a week...But if you notice your bowel movement has changed and if it is persistent, then it is a matter of concern!! 

Constipation is not a disease, it is a symptom, usually temporary..But if we let this continue, it could lead to serious problems such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and rectal prolapse to name a few.Not Fun.

We all know the feeling, don't we? I am sure we all have experienced that miserable takes a toll on your mood..clothes don't fit right.I mean it just ruins everything until you are able to go and relieve yourself!! But the good thing is, we can take some preventative measures against it..and the mantra is  Diet, Fluid & Exercise!!

Diet: By diet, it is not just eating but eating the right kind of food..Eat food with lots of fiber such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, tortilla..legumes, beans. The general recommendation is 20-35 grams of fiber per day..but sadly, in general we only get 10-15 grams a day!!

Example of whole grain products
Fluid: Drink plenty of fluids..more than the regular recommendation of 8-8 ounce fluids..and it does not have to be just water.. Prune and plum juice tends to help! And if you normally do not eat lots of fiber, make sure you are drinking fluids to get things going because otherwise, it will get more troublesome! 

Exercise: Exercise speeds up things in your GI tract. It does not have to be vigorous exercise..after a meal, wait about hour or so and take a walk for 10-15 mins..  

If you do these things regularly, chances are it will prevent constipation...but don't get frustrated if it does not. Sometimes these things may fail..Try over the counter fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Benefiber, Konsyl..and if you are new to the instruction carefully and drink plenty of fluids!! 
In spite of doing all this things, if you still are constipated, do not just let it go...and seek medical help! 


Mama was So Right!!

Jan 24, 2012
Yesterday was one of those days..all I wanted was plain home cooked meal. Being a true Asian, nothing comforts me more than white rice and dal (lentil soup)..Well its funny when I think about the time I was in Nepal..we ate rice twice a week on most days and I complained quite a lot to my mom saying ...once I go to America, all I am going to eat is pizza and ham burgers!! 

Food does so much more than just providing fuel to our body..It has emotional, religious, and social values and we all have special relationship with food! Its unfortunate but due to many circumstances, we miss out on our comfort/traditional food...

Sometimes don't you just miss coming home to a home-cooked meal? Well,  I do and feel bad for the times I turned away my mom's dinner..After holidays parties, birthdays and what not , I actually missed our good old Nepali dal-bhat (Rice, Lentil Soup). In spite of the long day, I saved some energy to come home and cook dinner to fulfill my heart's desire..

Typical Nepali Meal: Rice, Dal, Chicken curry,
Tomato Achar, Saag and Papad

Chocolate? ....Yes Please

Jan 20, 2012
Yes, dietitians do eat chocolate..and I am probably on the top list when it's about eating chocolate!

We all know health benefits of chocolate: good for heart, lowers blood cholesterol, and of course the  antioxidants...But there seems to slight misunderstanding about chocolate amongst many of us here..Not all chocolates are created equal-It is only the dark chocolate with those health claims- not white chocolate or milk chocolate!!


Why dark? Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a naturally occurring plant pigment that comes from the extract of cocoa beans.  The main compound flavonoids has all the potential health benefits. Other food sources of flavonoids are cranberries, tea, onions, apples to name a few..

White chocolate does not contain cocoa and in other varieties of chocolate, it all depends on how the chocolate is being processed. Good news is that these days manufacturers are looking for ways to keep flavoinoids in dark chocolate.

Although some studies have shown that dark chocolate can be good for our health in certain aspect, that does not mean we can all go on dark chocolate binge...But if you are like me not giving up on chocolate, here are some ideas to make them part of your life..

  • Get good quality dark chocolate, with 60-70% cocoa. I tried once with 90% and it was not a pleasant experience 
  • Do not buy candies in bulk because as long as you see them, you can't get your hands off them 
  • Try to stick to plain dark chocolate because the extra ingredients such as marshmallow, caramel, nuts can add up calories really fast 
  • Although no research has exclusively recommended the amount of dark chocolate for health benefits, limit yourself to 3 ounce (85 grams) a day, amount shown in studies to be helpful 
  • Check the link below for detail on calories from dark chocolate
  • Calorie balance is pretty important to keep in mind at all times. If you want to enjoy a piece of chocolate, may be skip dessert or stick to water instead of sugary beverage..

Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get
-Forest Gump 

Got Milk?

Jan 13, 2012

As a child, I always hated milk..had I only cared about stronger bones, teeth, and possibly weight loss. Although I am still not much of a milk drinker, I try my best to make it part of my every day routine!!

While I was in Nepal, we did not buy gallons of milk like we do is usually delivered straight from cow to our door step & mom pasteurized the milk..

Nowadays at the grocery store, there are wide selection of milk available and as a consumer it is sometimes a tough decision--whole milk, 2% or fat free ? And organic, soy milk and other kind is a whole another topic!

Cow's milk still today remains the most popular choice, available in three basic types-whole milk, 2% or 1% and skim or fat-free milk..This basically refers to the percent of fat by weight that milk contains. The milk container is color coded for quick recognition. It depends on the grocery store but generally, red-whole milk, blue-2% or reduced fat and pink-fat free or skim milk. Regardless of the type of milk you chose, you pretty much get all the vitamins and minerals but the only difference is the fat content and thus calories per serving.

Skim milk has even less calories and fat per serving-80 calories per cup compared to 150 calories per cup in whole milk and 120 per cup in reduced fat milk.

By far the whole milk definitely tastes better and rich, and I could tell when I drink chai..It is difficult for a lot of people to make a switch from whole milk to skim milk because it is so watery! But just try making a switch to reduced milk, and see if you can make transition to skim will save quite a lot of calories and fats in the long run..

"According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) whole milk and other full-fat dairy products are only appropriate for children under the age of one to two years old. Children under two, who are in a stage of rapid growth and brain development, have high energy and dietary fat requirements. They need the extra fat that whole milk contains". 

3-Every-Day Dairy reminds us to get three servings of low fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt as a part of our daily diet..because research have shown that it may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity, colon cancer, and metabolic syndrome!!

Weight loss: New Year Resolution

Jan 9, 2012
I have been getting alot of emails from friends and families asking me for diet plans! And this is not unusual around this time of the year.

I am very proud of your decision and I want you all to be little bit patient and understand that weight loss is not a quick fix, think of it as a lifestyle change towards being healthy and fit. It is much more than fitting into size 0 jeans!!

This may sound bit odd but honestly there is no magic diet plan that will help with weight loss. Why not? Simply because we all have different lifestyles, our food preferences varies and so on...People tell me, please make me a diet plan, I will follow everything you tell me, and I ask everyone the same question--Seriously, would you eat same thing for the rest of your life, because I could make diet plan for only so many days or weeks...

Here are few tips on how you can be successful in achieving a healthy weight:

1. Food Journal- This is what turns off most of the people. Recording everything you eat, drink and activities you are involved in throughout the day for about 3 to 5 typical days gives you an idea about your caloric balance! I personally know two of my friends who started off with food journal and have successfully lost 20 pounds so far..

This is exactly what I do with my patients, as much as they hate it in the beginning, they see results in about 2 weeks and stop complaining..

It is definately time consuming but very effective..You can either keep a dairy or use website or applications such as myfitnesspal, caloriecounter.

2. Calorie Deficit-  Once you have general idea on your caloric intake, try to reduce 500 calories/day by either eating less or working out or balance of both to lose 1-2 pounds/week..Do not go less than 1200 calories/day..This is when I could step in and help you!!

3. Create your OWN diet plan- Eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks is a cliche..but makes sense..I am sure we all experience this every once in a while. If I skip breakfast, first of all I get crabby and end up eating more than I need during my lunch..bad bad bad!!

This is something I hear alot.. I am running late in the morning, no time for lunch, I am not used to eating breakfast etc etc...Result: HEAVY DINNER!!!

I sit down with my clients or share google documents with my friends and families to make recommendation and changes in their diet..and usually works pretty well.

4. Set Goals- You do not have to make big changes, clear out your pantries, or stop going to fast food!! We are talking about making small changes, something that could lead to lifestyle change! Ever heard of the acronym S.M.A.R.T? It is pretty simple and helps you personalize your goal. S-Specific, M-Measureable, A-Attainable, R-Realistic, T-Timely.
For example:  Instead of I will walk, say- I will walk once a week for 10 mins.
                     I will eat a piece of fruit during my lunch everyday.

Setting some goals for youself will help you stay focus and sometimes even challenge you to get better results. If you feel like you are not being able to get to your goal, do not get frustrated! Take a step backward and work your way up.

5. Weighing Scale- Do not get obessed with the scale..Easier said than done! Once you start making changes, you are probably agitated to see the numbers go down quick! Give it atleast two weeks! And general rule of thumb, weigh yourself every week using the same scale, preferably morning or around same time..

I hope these few pointers will help you get start started! I am so glad that my friends and families ask me for recommendation instead of blindly running around some fad diets out there. Please Please Please, do not fall for those expensive diet pills, or listen to celebrity fad diets! They look appealing but beware of the false advertisements and health hazards.

Good luck with your weight loss and feel free to ask me any questions!!

Seriously Restaurants!!

Jan 3, 2012

I read this article titled "8 new saltiest food in America" while I took a bite of sandwich from a nearby deli, not the best thing to eat as I was read this...and I had to share this all you...

We live in a society where 70-80% of sodium in our diet come from processed and commercial food..Not to mention fast food joint at every corner of the street..We all consume way too much sodium (surpriseeee) which is a leading cause of high blood pressure and puts individual at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.. did I mention American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1500 mg sodium daily (about ¾ teaspoon salt).

It is just mind blowing to see how much sodium is in the following food and let not get into fat grams..

Did you know that Ruby Tuesday's Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta has 3,737 mg sodium which is equivalent to 10 large ordes of Mc Donald’s French Fries.

If you like On the Border's (Mexican Place) Dos XX Fish Tacos, RE-THINK.. 3740 mg sodium!! And add 20-25 tortilla chips you have been nibbling throughout the evening.

I always preach that breakfast is so important but not when it has 4310 mg sodium and 61 g fat (19 g saturated) at IHOP's Thick-Cut Bone-In Ham & Eggs..It's like getting a week's worth of sodium in just one plate.

This is my personal favorite..At Applebee's Weight Watchers Chipotle Lime is only 490 calories and 12 grams of fat (2 saturated) with 4990 mg sodium, Ouchhhhh...I have this tendency to order food that sounds healthy and stuff but honestly it feels like as long as you are eating out, it really does not make a lot of is just hard to avoid sodium, saturated fats..and ever increasing portion sizes.

And wait till you hear this one!

If you have recently eaten at P.F. Chang, pay extra attention! Their Pork Double Pan Fried Noodles has 7900 mg sodium...about 600 potato chips! I am just flabbergasted..

This is something new and scary thing I learned: Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute found that the effects of sodium over-consumption is like drug addiction, the more we eat, the more we crave!! 

Since we are surrounded by plethora of sodium, does this mean we are doomed because we certainly wont boycott restaurants or stopping at our favorite drive thru down the street....