7 Superfoods for a healthy winter

After the wet monsoon, it’s time to welcome the winter with its pleasant mornings (especially for Mumbaikars who only see heat, humidity and rains for the rest of the year) and cool breeze. However, the cold season brings with it, its maladies too. Adults and children alike suffer from cold, cough, sore throat and flu.

Here is my basket of 7 superfoods that will keep you relatively sickness free throughout the winter months.

superfoods winter

  1. Tulsi (Holy Basil): This humble plant that is more or less found in every Indian home is a mine full of benefits. It builds immunity and keeps colds, coughs and fevers away. Have 5-6 leaves daily, however, do not chew the leaves (as it erodes the tooth enamel), just keep it at the back of your mouth and slowly exert pressure with your gums to release its juices. For small kids who don’t want to chew, boil tulsi leaves in water, and give them this herbal tea. Tulsi is also a great remedy for asthma that flares up in winter months.
  1. Turmeric: Indians make a liberal use of turmeric or haldi in their cooking. However, in the winter, you get fresh turmeric roots which should be used to the maximum. Apart from keeping away viral infections, turmeric helps in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that flares up in winter. An interesting way of including fresh turmeric in your diet is to make a pickle out of it. Buy mango ginger (curcuma amada) and fresh turmeric roots, wash them, peel them, finely slice them, add sliced green chillies, lemon juice and salt. Mix it well and store it in a container. Have a little every day with your meals.
  1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry): Come winter and the markets are awash with these pale green fruits. Don’t be fooled by its unattractive colour, this humble gooseberry packs quite a healthy punch. Amla translates to ‘nectar of life’. It is a super fruit, no idea why it isn’t getting the due that it deserves! Rich in vitamin C (it has eight times more vitamin C than an orange), it helps fight the common cold, boosts metabolism, builds immunity and relieves arthritis-related joint aches. Also, it improves the quality of hair and skin, and the eyesight. Make sure it is a part of your and your child’s daily diet. Either include it in your vegetable/fruit juice, make murabba or pickle it in salt and turmeric water.
  1. Cinnamon: Do you know cinnamon is the favourite spice for fall and winter baking? Also, it’s not a coincidence that cinnamon sticks are used in mulled wine or cider. Apart from its sweet taste and woody smell, cinnamon has a host of benefits. Firstly, it keeps you warm in the winter months. Cinnamon treats cold and cough, settles your stomach and boosts your metabolism. This spice is clearly a winner! Soak a cinnamon stick in hot water, and sip it when it’s comfortably warm.
  1. Ginger: Cold, dark winters often lead to indulgence in rich, heavy foods. Ginger eases digestion and helps to expel gas from the digestive tract. It is a time proven remedy for wintertime sniffles, runny noses and chest congestion. It helps reduce joint pains and swelling. No wonder, Indians love their ginger tea. However, include ginger in your child’s diet by adding grated ginger to his meals, baking gingerbread cookies or making fresh ginger pickle (use of new ginger roots is advisable for this pickle).
  1. Garlic: Call it an herb, a spice or a vegetable, the truth is, this pungent smelling root is extremely versatile in treating many illnesses. In the winter months, it’s a great food to boost your immune system and keep cold and flu away. It maintains healthy lungs and stomach, and reduces inflammation associated with various forms of arthritis. Garlic bulbs are available all the year round, however, in winter, you get fresh garlic, which looks like a slimmer version of spring onions. Finely chop them and use them generously in your dals, subjis and chutneys.
  1. Ghee: Don’t make that face yet! Ghee is a fat-soluble food that is rich in vitamin A, D, E and K. It helps in digestion. Having a teaspoon of ghee daily prevents dryness of the skin in the winter months, and keeps it moisturized. It provides the desired lubrication to the joints and keep them healthy. Apply ghee on kids’ rotis or pour a dollop of ghee on their rice, khichdis and dals. Or as our mommies do, make gaund and besan ka laddoos, or gajar ka halwa that make a good use of ghee.

With these commonly available foods, you can make sure that your winter is sickness-free. Enjoy the winter!!

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Mummy’s guilt in her child’s tummy!

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Image courtesy: Jeshoots

I will tell you something that I witnessed 10 years ago and still do on a daily basis. I had just got married, moved to Mumbai and immediately started working at a well-known BPO. Now, I had a colleague who was married and had a two-year-old daughter. Every day, she would be carrying two candies to the office. Not for her consumption, or for any team mate’s, but for her daughter to whom she gave them when she reached home in the evening. One day, my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up asking her “Why do you give your daughter chocolates every day?”

“I leave her home all day with her grandfather and maid. This is my way of saying to her “I love you” as I am not with her the whole day.” Beautiful sentiment. But, what she could not understand was it was not love, but her guilt that was forcing her to bribe her daughter with chocolates every day.

One classmate of my daughter brings cupcakes every day to the school. Seeing her, my daughter demands for cupcakes in her tiffin too, which I of course, promptly refuse. So, one day when I met the mother, I asked her, “Why do you give cupcakes to your daughter every day? My daughter gives your example to me and thinks you are the greatest mama to live and breathe on this earth. She wants to exchange me for you.” I joked, but it was not funny to me.

“Cupcakes are the only thing she asks for, so I don’t deny her that pleasure. Also, it’s available in the nearby bakery, so it hardly takes any time.” Yes, but every day??

Remember, when we were small and went on picnics, how our mother would elaborately prepare chhole bhature, pav bhaji, aloo puri, halwa, homemade potato chips and all. We would always carry a giant-sized water thermos from home, because no packaged water bottles were available in those days. Now, when we travel, we mostly carry packaged wafers, juices and biscuits. Who would take the trouble of cooking when things are available so readily and conveniently?

I understand we are busy with our work and feel guilty of neglecting our children. But, why should that be a reason to spoil the health of our kids? Getting rid of our guilty by giving them sugary treats or junk food is not the solution. On the contrary, it adds to it.

We work for money, for better lifestyle and for self-esteem. All of them are positive things, aren’t they? Then why is there this guilt, and the need to redeem it by playing with the health of our kids.

Let me tell you this. My mother in law loves my daughter and whenever she visits us or we visit her, she spoils my daughter with chocolates, ice creams and what not. She doesn’t like cooking and so she prefers giving her outside stuff. My mother is an excellent cook and prefers sending homemade sweets for her (sukhdi, besan ki barfi, atte ka laddoo) and whenever we visit her, she asks my daughter, “What shall I cook for you today? What do you want to eat?”

Both mothers give her sugary treats, but they are vastly different, you see.

My daughter’s comments – “Nani makes such nice things for me. I love her.” And let me tell you, she loves chocolates far more than sweets, but even a small child like her understands and appreciates the value of homemade food. I still remember my dadi for the “gulgule” she made, and the “jawe” she would send in quantity to us. I fondly remember my nani for the awesome cook she was; for her parwal ki mithai, pickles, badam and kaju ki katli. They are long gone, but the sweet memories of their food have still stayed with me.

Agreed, our nani and dadi never worked in a stressful corporate environment, never had to board stuffy trains or crowded buses, didn’t have to meet targets or month end deadlines. But, then they didn’t even have access to 24/7 maids and very helpful electrical appliances. As a working mother, we don’t have much time, I understand and I agree. But we still take out time for Halloween parties, playdates, movie dates. Just a food for thought!

Just question yourself what do you want to be remembered for? Your store-bought cupcakes, doughnuts and chocolates or your once-in-a-week-or-month baked cakes, kheer, halwa and laddoo? No food is bad, even sugar, if it’s prepared at home and eaten in reasonable quantity.

Some people will argue that women of 21st Century is breaking the glass ceiling, they are not supposed to slog in the kitchen. I will tell them – preparing delightful meals for your child and for your health’s sake is not exactly slogging. Remember, health can never come out of a packet (however fancy)!

This article is not written with the intention of judging or putting down anyone, but to serve as an eye opener that our guilt is finding its way into our children’s tummy. We love our kids and look after the tiniest detail so that they are not inconvenienced. Then how come we ignore such a huge aspect of their lives – their HEALTH!!

Why don’t I give my daughter juice?

fruit juice

A few years ago, my friend and I took our kids to a park. After playing for a while, the kids got hungry and demanded food. I looked into my bag and realized that I had left the tiffin box at home. But, my friend, fortunately was carrying hers. She took out 2 tetra packs of mixed fruit juice and a big pack of biscuits.

“I got juice and oat biscuits, at least kids will have something healthy than those chips!” She announced. I chose to stay silent. My daughter was hungry, and I didn’t have anything else to offer to her. So, she got a treat of packaged juice and biscuits.

On reaching home, I narrated the whole incident to my husband. Shock, indignation and disappointment were writ large on his face.

“This country is doomed forever if its educated citizens think that packaged juices and oatmeal biscuits that come out of a packet are healthy for kids!” He cried.

See at the back of any tetra pack containing fruit juice – it would say natural fruit sugars and added sugar. Natural fruit sugars is fructose and added sugar as we all know is pure white sugar. Also, there is no mention of any fibre of the fruit, because the juice contains none. So, basically, we are giving our kids an overdose of sugars. It causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly resulting in a burst of energy that is short lived. High blood sugar levels cause the body to store the excess energy as fat. Also, once the sugar gets stored in the body, the blood sugar levels come down leaving the child tired and cranky. So, giving a packaged fruit juice to your child doesn’t the purpose.

But, wait it doesn’t get over here. Learn what all it can do to your child.

As the blood sugar levels come down, the body craves for more sugar that it just lost. So, the child will start demanding for sweet stuff. You got him or her into this vicious cycle!

Juices are overloaded with calories, empty ones. Your child is not getting fibre, or enough protein and healthy fat out of these. No wonder, we see child obesity and type 2 diabetes on a rise in India. Juices, cola and sweets all contribute to it!

And to all those who say juice contains real fruit, no…it doesn’t! It contains fructose-concentrate juice. 1 orange juice (200 ml) = goodness (what does it even mean) of 3-4 oranges (yes, I read it on the advert of a popular “no added sugar” orange juice…it said 17 oranges for 1000 ml pack!!). 1 apple juice (200 ml) = 4-5 medium sized apples.

Now, tell me honestly, can our kids eat so many oranges and apples at a time. No, right! Then, why are we feeding them so many fruits in the form of juice?

My daughter loves juices so much, she can finish the entire 200 ml pack without taking a pause. Yes, kids love sugar…don’t they just! However, I restrict these juices to occasions…she can have them as treats at birthday parties or at picnics.

I have stopped giving her homemade juice as well. Why?

Simple rule – drink not what you can eat!

If she can eat 2-3 oranges and 2 apples, I have told her, she can have her juice, which hasn’t happened so far! So…..

Read more about myths and facts about fruit juices here – http://bonhappetee.com/blog/2015/10/27/myths-and-facts-about-fruits-and-fruit-juices/

It’s not only about fruit juices, but pretty much about everything that we eat and feed our kids. Let’s be informed before we put stuff in our kid’s mouth. Parenting is not only about sending kids to the best of schools and classes, buying them the best of toys…but it is also about feeding them the best foods.

Oh, and now I always make sure I am carrying a dabba of snacks from home!

What are 6 year olds talking about these days?

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Image Credit: I couldn’t find the photographer, but I still couldn’t resist using it, because of the powerful and unmistakable message it sends out.

On a recent phone call with my friend, I came to know that her daughter who is also my daughter’s friend and classmate, brings home her school tiffin untouched. When my friend probed her daughter, she came to know that a couple of girls in the class told her, “If you eat a lot, you will turn fat!”

That I was shocked beyond words wouldn’t even superficially touch what I felt on hearing that. Seriously, the ‘body shaming monster’ that plagues every girl right from her teenage to the day she dies, is rearing its ugly head and is not even sparing little girls.

6 year olds, what do they know about being fat? No, really, it couldn’t be their words. These words have been implanted in their mind. And by none other than the family and the society. So when they hear their mommy or daddy complaining for the umpteenth time about “how she needs to diet because she has put on weight” or “he needs to eat sparingly to cut down that flab”, they create their own perception without really understanding the whole picture. What they listen and understand is “eating makes one fat!”

Things like this are the reason little girls develop eating disorders and start hating their body.

Yes, India ranks third in child obesity in the world, and yes, we need to take extreme measures to rein it in. Yes, obesity leads to many lifestyle diseases like thyroid, diabetes, PCOS…but, that doesn’t mean, children should stop eating. When has dieting or fasting helped anyone, let alone children?

Eating a lot is not good; not for anyone, irrespective of their waste size. But, more important is the quality of food and its nutrition value. The sad part is when we feed our children processed cheese, we don’t think they are getting fat? When they gulp down an entire bottle of packaged juice or eat biscuits and chips, we don’t complain much. But, when it comes to dal, roti or subzi…we get stressed looking at the quantity.

Here are a few things as a parent you should take care of:

  • Do not perpetually talk about your weight gain or loss in front of kids. They don’t understand the context and more often than not interpret it the wrong way.
  • To an older child (once she turns 6-7 years), you can make them understand that being fat is not bad. But yes, one should eat right (junk should be limited to once a week) and exercise every day.
  • Teach them about the quality of food. Tell them eating 2 rotis are better and healthier than 1 bag of chips. Food is first about quality, and then quantity.
  • Pack tasty but nutritious home made food in your child’s dabba. Fortunately, we are in/come from a country that has hordes of regional nutritious recipes. Plus, Google is always there to expand our recipe repertoire.
  • Body shaming starts at an alarming early age nowadays. Monitor her influences (friends, social media, siblings, etc.). Teach your child to be confident about her body and the way she looks.
  • Don’t glorify thinness or slimness in your home. Instead of fat or thin, focus on being fit. A person can be thin, and yet not be fit.

Let’s not snatch away the innocence from these little kids. They should be talking about dolls, legos and stuff, and not worry about weight gain at their age. What do you think?

 

 

 

Hypothryoidism – Do not suffer in silence..!!

I am not sure whether I have shared with you before, that I have Hypothyroidism for last 12 years, and been on medication since.

Now, an underactive thyroid has a host of unappealing symptoms: brittle nails, hair loss, fatigue, lethargy, brain fog, hoarseness, depression, joint stiffness, muscles aches and pain, sensitivity to cold, constipation, slow metabolism, unexplained weight gain and inability to lose weight, complications in conceiving/carrying it full term.

So, this small gland secrets hormones vital for your body functions, Now, medicines help but they do not repair your gland. Even after taking medicines, I still suffer from all these symptoms, their intensity might be low, but they still plague me one way or the other. People close to me know my constant struggle with fuzzy memory and weight loss.

So what option you have other than taking medicines for your whole life?

Yoga, of course helps. Yoga has specific asanas namely:

  • Sarvangasana
  • Bhujangasana
  • Naukasana
  • Ushtrasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Chakrasana
  • Simhasana
  • Surya Namaskara and many more.

Recently, I came across this video by Luke Coutinho, a well known nutritionist from Mumbai/India who has shared great tips to manage your hypothyroidism. And, one of them is consuming Coconut Oil. So here it is. My bottle of cold pressed virgin Coconut Oil. A spoonful daily, doesn’t have any taste. But, can work wonders.

coconutoil

So let me get back to you after a few months on my hypothyroidism status.

For all ladies suffering from hypothryoidism, do not suffer in silence. Act today!

Check out this link –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64eVj9hwRm0&feature=youtu.be

Disclaimer – This is not a product review. This was the cheapest bottle of cold pressed virgin coconut oil available on Amazon.

9 Reasons Some Babies Refuse To Eat Food, No Matter How Much You Try

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Feeding a baby is not an easy task at all. I am sure that all of us have experienced this as mothers. While there are some days when your baby agrees to feed/eat, there are other times when he/she REFUSES straightaway, no matter how much you try!

As soon as the baby turns 6 months old, most doctors recommend to slowly introduce solids. It is an exciting time for parents, mothers especially, as it means her breasts can finally get some rest! And also, babies get the opportunity to widen their palate, which till now has been exposed to only breast milk.

But, it’s not as simple as it sounds. As a mother who has experienced this phase, I have concluded that feeding baby food is not an easy task all! Come summer and many babies face feeding and appetite issues even more. So, why is that babies refuse to eat food on certain days? Is there some reason other than just moodiness?

In the course of my parenting journey so far, I have found some reasons why some babies refuse to eat food, even when you try really hard. If we manage to deal with these reasons, our babies might just regain their appetite!

1. When She is Not Feeling Comfortable

If your baby is not feeling comfortable, is colicky, is wearing tight clothes, is feeling too hot/humid, or has a full diaper, she may not want to be fed. If she has been vaccinated recently, that might spoil her appetite too.

2. When She is Full

Believe it or not, kids cannot overeat, unlike adults. So, if your child is full (was she recently breastfed?), she may not want to eat. Don’t force her. Either she will not take the food inside or vomit. It is best that we try to keep an adequate gap between two mealtimes.

3. When She is Constipated

If you notice that your baby has not been eating or taking breast milk, try to remember when she had last passed stool. She might be constipated and uncomfortable. Pooping problems affect many babies, and at these times, it is no wonder they don’t feel like eating.

4. When She is Teething

Has your little one crossed the 6 months mark? Some babies begin teething quite early. During teething, your baby might not be feeling well or comfortable, and may also experience some pain. This could be why they are refusing food.

5. When She is Fed a New Food

Have you recently introduced your baby to a new food? A baby may not like a new food and reject it! This may also lead to her refusing to eat anything in general.

Keep on reading at – http://www.worldofmoms.com/blog/9-reasons-some-babies-refuse-to-eat-food-no-matter-how-much-you-try/1397/2

My 5-year old is eating right, thanks to this food app!

anshu-picture-bon-happetee

I have been using this food app, called bon happetee, for more than 6 months now. Developed by my husband and his team, this mobile app is for food lovers to indulge in their love for food without compromising either on the taste or on their weight loss or fitness goals.

Bon happetee is my fitness partner helping me with my lifestyle goals of losing weight and staying fit. It is my nutritionist, menu setter and lifestyle supervisor all rolled into one. It is simple and interactive use, and unlike other weight loss apps, doesn’t judge me when I tend to overeat on certain days, but gently guides me back to my pace. It is really…ok, I must be getting on your nerves by now with bon happetee this and bon happetee that.

So let me tell you the real reason behind this post. I log my meals in bon happetee app on a daily basis and exclaim with delight whenever I hit the score of 8 and above. Yes, it has a meal scoring system and like any examination, if you consistently score high, you keep on losing weight or maintaining it. So, yes, one day just after my lunch, as I logged my meal, the app told me that I had scored a 8 consistently that week. And, so in my happiness, I broke into an impromptu jig. My 5-year old who was watching me with unfeigned amusement, asked me what I was so happy about. I told her I had scored high on my meals on papa’s bon happetee app.

She innocently asked me, “Mama, can bon happetee give a score on my meal too?”

“Why not?” I said.

So I started logging her lunch –

1/2 small ladle Aloo Gobhi Mutter subji (Cauliflower potato peas)

1 small bowl plain Curd/Yogurt

1/2 Chapati

The app threw a score of 6. Unhappy, she asked me why it gave her such a low score. I just knew the answer ‘why’, and deep down she knew too. No dal and 1/2 Chapati was no decent for an active 5-year old. But, my previous advice had all fallen on deaf ears. Still, I could resist commenting, “If you don’t eal dal and eat only half a chapati, of course, you will get a low meal score”.

The next second, she asked me if there was any dal left. I put a bowl of masoor dal and the other half of her chapati in front of her, which she excitedly finished. When I again logged her meal, it gave her a score of 9. Needless to say, she started dancing too.

Another time, my daughter’s friend had joined us for lunch. I had made Rajma-Chawal (Kidney beans- White Rice). After finishing their meal, my daughter asked me to log in her meal on bon happetee. I complied and she got a score of 9. This interested her friend and she pleaded with me too.

“Aunty, mine too!” I logged in her meal as well, and she too got 9. Both girls were super happy.

It was a Sunday afternoon and my husband was at home. He witnessed the incident, which gave him the idea of incorporating certain features in his app for kids too. Most kids are fussy eaters, but they get a motivation to eat right, they will certainly do it.

My daughter is certainly motivated to eat right just so that she can score high on bon happetee. If you have a fussy eater at home, bon happetee might help you too! Eat good, be happy. For both you and your kids!

Download the app, click here.