Dietician Komal Jethmalani provides expert help.
Dear Readers, are you worried about your health?
Concerned about what you and your family are eating?
Struggling with weight gain?
Or are you facing other heath issues like diabetes, blood pressure, joint pain or heart problems?
Please mail your questions to Nutritionist Komal Jethmalani (Subject: Ask Komal) for her advice.
Hope you are doing well.
We have the month of Ramadan starting in April. Given the long fasting hours (usually 12-15 hours a day), can you recommend a healthy diet post breaking the fast?
Currently, we break our fast with dates, milk smoothies and fruits.
However, the second half of the fast is when one feels hungry and so ends up eating unhealthy food items later. Can you suggest some diet that keeps you full?
When fasting, you get dehydrated slowly during the course of the day.
So, when you break your fast, have fluids like water, fruit juices, coconut water, smoothies, etc, with a carb and protein meal to spike energy levels.
Restrain from eating sweets and oily preparations as these are difficult to digest.
Iftar can consist of a whole balanced meal with cereal, protein-rich foods like paneer, chicken, fish, vegetables and salads.
The pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) must contain fluids and dates, with protein-rich meals like eggs or lean meat or oats with milk and nuts or an oats-banana smoothie, etc.
Avoid salty preparations as they will dehydrate you and make you feel thirsty through the day.
During our Lent fast, we keep away from all animal products, including milk and eggs.
Many do have milk and eggs, but this is how our family has always done it.
I am worried that not eating meat, fish, eggs and milk will affect our health.
What can we do to compensate and make sure health is not affected?
Milk, eggs and lean meat are excellent sources of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and many other essential nutrients.
You can get these from plant foods as well. Good combinations of cereal-pulse, beans-legumes, nuts, soya and pseudo-cereals like quinoa and oats are a good source of nutrients.
Ensure that you have balanced meals.
Every meal should contain a protein and fibre source, along with complex carbs.
Have three main meals with healthy fillers like fruits, nuts, coconut water, buttermilk, lemon water, etc, in between to meet all your nutrient requirements.
I am 45 years old, already menopaused for seven years.
I have diabetes.
Morning: Warm water on empty stomach
Breakfast: Sandwich/Idli/Dosa/Thepla/Poha/Upma and tea
Mid-morning: Five soaked badams, 1 soaked walnut. A little later, buttermilk
Evening: Tea and sandwich/idli/dosa/thepla/poha/upma/kurmura/chana
Sometimes, I have packaged snacks.
Night: Fruit or same as lunch, depending on how hungry I feel.
No exercise, just walking around the house (2 BHK) as housework requires.
Water: 1-2 litres
Is this okay or should I make changes?
Your diet lacks protein.
Include protein-rich foods like low fat dairy products, pulses, beans, soya, seeds, nuts, eggs or lean meat (if permitted).
Have three main balanced meals, focusing on protein rich food and complex carbs.
Include fruits, vegetables and salads to increase fibre intake. This will help reduce your glycemic index.
Avoid packaged or processed foods as they contain simple carbohydrates and more sodium, which will increase water retention.
A workout schedule is very essential in maintaining fitness.
Exercise will increase your metabolism and lead to good burning of extra calories. It will increase flexibility and endurance and keep your blood sugars under control.
Drink at least 10-12 glasses of water to flush out toxins, remain well hydrated and for good gut health.
Can you become lactose-intolerant as you grow older?
I have had no problems with milk or milk products until lately.
I am 65 years old.
I have a glass of warm milk every night, dahi with lunch.
Paneer is made for lunch once a week.
We use ghee in some bits of our cooking.
If I am lactose-intolerant, what can I substitute it with without losing the benefits of having milk?
Lactose intolerance is usually caused due to absence of an enzyme called lactase in our body.
Are you experiencing symptoms of abdominal cramps, bloating or diarrhoea?
Primary lactose intolerance occurs as the amount of lactase in our body declines as people age.
You need to limit dairy products by completely restraining their intake or having them in a small portion size.
Some people can tolerate curd as it has lactic acid.
Substitute dairy products with other protein-rich foods like eggs, lean meat, cereal-pulse combinations, beans, soya and pseudo-cereals like oats and quinoa.
I don’t like drinking too much water. Do coffee, tea, juice, cold drinks count as part of my liquid intake?
I am 22 years old.
How much liquid should one have in a day?
Water is an essential nutrient as it is required in amounts that the body cannot produce itself.
It maintains the health and integrity of every cell in the body, helps eliminate by-products of the body’s metabolism, regulates body temperature, is good for gut health, etc.
For proper metabolism, a normal human body requires about two litres of water.
Excess intake of tea, coffee, etc, will further dehydrate you and leads to an increase in water requirement.
Cold drinks and juices also provide a high carb intake and will lead to metabolic disorders like high blood sugar, cholesterol, increase in triglyceride levels, etc.
Drink at least 10-12 glasses water daily.
- You can read all of Komal Jethmalani’s columns here.
Komal Jethmalani is a dietician with over 25 years of experience in food, nutrition and dietetics, with an MSc in food science and nutrition.
A certified diabetes educator and lifestyle coach, specialising in diabetic, cardiovascular, weight loss and various therapeutic diets, she consults under the brand The Diet Mantra.
And she will try and help you achieve your dietary and fitness goals through healthy lifestyle changes.
Do share your complete health details including age, weight, height and health issues if any.
Write to [email protected] (Subject: Ask Komal), along with your name.
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