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August 8, 2016

The new fat tax imposed by the Kerala state government has been in the news lately.  The fat tax has been imposed on burgers, pizzas, French fries, doughnuts, etc served in quick service multinational restaurants.  The idea is to curb the rising numbers in obesity in Kerala.  Lots of discussions and debates are taking place on whether or not it’s a wise move.

In my opinion, it’s a first step in the right direction but needs much more thought, planning and better implementation.  Imposing a tax only on a few high fat foods is not going to curb obesity.  It might reduce the consumption of such foods by some people who cannot afford to pay the extra amount.  However, there are many other foods made in our country (egs – namkeens, cookies, bakery items, etc) that are high in total fat or in trans fats, that are easily accessible to the public.  How does one regulate them?

And what about the high sugar foods and beverages?  Where do snacks and beverages made with high sugar, high fat and refined flour fit in?

The fat tax process needs to be more scientific, involving experts from the field of nutrition and health.

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May 6, 2016

Have you ever wondered if the size of your plate can influence your body weight?  Some studies seem to think so.  Eating on smaller plates than you normally do, can help to reduce the total intake in terms of quantity of food resulting in lesser calorie intake which can lead to weight reduction.  The reduction is said to be an average of 30%.  This can make a huge change in those who are trying to lose weight.

The research also adds that smaller plates work well to reduce intake of food only if the consumer helps himself / herself to food and is not served by another person.  In other words, it works in a buffet setting but not in a sit-down formal dinner.

Another study says that a large plate adds burden to Waist, Waste and Wallet!  A given quantity of food looks sizeable on a smaller plate and appears inadequate on a larger plate. There is a likelihood of losing 8 to 10 kg in a year just by reducing the plate size. photo-34

Well, the small plate theory might work for some and might not work for others.  But eating a little less than your full capacity is beneficial to health.

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April 18, 2016

FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has recently issued guidelines on making nutritious foods available to school children.  To implement this, one of the ways suggested by FSSAI is for the schools to ban the sale of HFSS (High Fat, Sugar, Salt) foods within 50 meters radius of the school.  The underlying principles for such a ban is that a) children are not the best judge to choose healthy foods, b) schools are not the right place to promote HFSS foods, c) benefits of traditional nutritious foods cannot be replaced and d) school children need to have better dietary habits.

Although the intention of FSSAI is very good and this is a positive step towards making the children healthier, the implementation might have many hiccups.  This method not only requires the school authorities to improve their food / canteen facilities, but also requires regular inspection of the children’s lunch boxes.  There are a few schools that are already checking the students’ lunch boxes regularly but this needs to be done at every single school in our country.  Secondly, the parents need to play an important role in ensuring that their children carry and eat nutritious foods while at school and at home.  Careful planning of meals and buying healthy foods from the grocery shop can go a long way in making meals nutritious.  Lastly, children’s participation in shopping, chopping and cooking can also help in increasing awareness and making healthier decisions in food choices.

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June 23, 2014

Is there a difference between the two conditions?  Yes.  It can be difficult to determine whether one has an intolerance or an allergy because the signs and symptoms overlap.

A simple explanation of the two conditions –
Food allergy = immune system reaction to food
Food intolerance = inability to digest a food

Food allergy symptoms show up immediately whereas an intolerance may or may not manifest soon after ingesting the food.  In food allergy, the reaction can occur with smallest quantities but in food intolerance, the person is able to tolerate the food in small amounts or over a period of time. Food allergy can be life-threatening sometimes but not food intolerance.  A physician or an allergy specialist will be able to diagnose the problem.

Nuts, dairy, egg and fish are the most common food allergens.  Common food intolerance list includes wheat, gluten, milk, yeast, food additives and preservatives.

Symptoms of food allergy can vary from dizziness, swelling of lips and throat, itchy skin and red eyes, to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, shortness of breath, or blocked nose.  Food intolerance can show up as bloating, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, wheezing, hives or runny nose.

If you’re aware of the problem that you have, check labels when you buy packaged foods.  The best way to prevent such problems from occurring is to avoid the foods that cause these problems.  Maintaining a diary of the foods that you eat can help to trace the allergen or the food that causes the problem.

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June 9, 2014

The popular health magazine Prevention (India Today Group) had organized a Readers’ Meet last Saturday (June 07, 2014).  The event was held at Carrots, the vegan restaurant in Koramangala.  Supported by Washington Apples, the interactive meet saw about 30 interested readers and food bloggers.  The program began with a short introduction by Sanghamitra Chakraborty, Editorial Director of Prevention & Women’s Health magazines.  This was followed by a brief talk on summer foods by me, which led to an interesting discussion with the audience.  The last part of the event was a demonstration of 2 apple recipes by Carrots Chefs Singraj Gurung and Susmitha Subbaraju.

Sharing the recipes with you.

Roasted Apple Sauce

Ingredients:
4 Apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
15 ml  Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Lemon Juice
25 gm Brown Sugar
3 gm Cinnamon
2 gm Nutmeg

Directions:
Toss the apple pieces in a bowl.  Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the apples are very soft, about 30-50 minutes. Mash the apple. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Vegan Russian Salad

Ingredients:
20 gm Sweet Potato Cubes
20 gm Carrots Cubes
20 gm Green Peas
100 gm Cashew Mayonnaise
30 gm Apple Cubes

Directions:
Steam/boil the potatoes, carrots and peas. Mix all ingredients together and chill in the fridge for about an hour.

 

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