Sometimes In Life It’s YOU Versus you

“Hey, fry me some pooris no, pleeeease?”

” Hey, make me some paneer bhurji to go with it no, pleeeease?”

The voices inside call out your name, begging you to give in to some craving. Just this ONE time, it pleads!

But you know what, sometimes winning means defeating yourself. 

This happens to be the tag line of the new sports fantasy novel that released, a co-collaboration of Kobe Bryant. It came out just a couple of days ago, and I’m so looking forward to reading it! I really hope you do too.

The current corona phase continues to prey as we are grappling with the chaos and destruction it has left in its trail. And now more than ever, my dear reader, you must not allow your cravings to win the better of you!

Defeating your cravings to eat oily, deep-fried, dairy-rich, meat, and egg-based fatty foods give you a much higher chance of winning the battle against corona.

Here’s a short but informative video I’d love for you to watch. And do what it asks of you!

 

Remember, sometimes defeating yourself is what brings you to sweet victory.

Until next time,
g

Am Not Sure You Grasped This At All!

My mentor says, “in this day and age, success comes to those who know how to cut out the noise and focus on what truly matters!”

Golden words, isn’t it, dear reader? She often says this to get us on track.

Given just how it snaps me out of mindless activity each time she says it, I now say it to myself several times a day. I shared a video last week. I’m not sure you grasped this part.

I will share JUST ONE fact from the video. Because appreciating just this one finding can transform your life.

In a lab setting, when the researchers want to study diabetes, they induce diabetes in mice. Do you know how it is done?

Take a guess.

Did you say feed excess sugar? Nope.

Did you say feed excess carbs? Wrong again!

 

They feed the mice with excessively fatty foods. And in no time at all, the once healthy mice become diabetic!

The researchers were very stunned by this finding, and they went on to try it with humans. And what do you think happened? The once healthy human subjects developed diabetes promptly.

What else counts as fatty food, you think?

Oil (think pooris), butter (think pav bhaji), cheese ( another name for which is pizza), ghee (that which you may be using in your rasam, roti, rice and I don’t know what else), cream (ice cream), paneer (roshogolla), curd (maybe an everyday staple), to name a few.

So, you may be thinking – okay, Girija! Why the hell are you bothering me with all this talk on diabetes? I don’t have it and am not interested!

It is this same excessive fat that causes insulin resistance. It also causes PCOS, unwanted excessive hair in women, painful periods, irregular periods, imbalance of hormones, making it difficult to conceive and pimples at all ages. I am only naming a handful of most common problems women today face because I don’t mean to upset you.

I also say it so you can recognize how most recipes you get to see in your social media news feed, television shows, and magazines are noise. They make you drool, and they cost you your precious health.

Next week I will educate you further on what this insulin resistance is and how to prevent it. But you have to be an insider to get the video link. Are you signed up for my newsletter?

Masala Vada Recipe That Turned Out To Be A Big Hit This Vijayadashami

Hi lovely reader,

Here’s a savory Amboday or Masala Vada recipe – sent well ahead of time for the upcoming Diwali!

All summer long, we got to eat the sweetest corn this time. It was so juicy and so delicious that it has turned me into a corn-snob for the first time.

So, as summer is slowly fading into the fall season, the available produce is changing. But the tongue has it’s own longings, and it delighted upon seeing the corn on the cob at Costco.

But guess what, the corn-snob (yours truly!) felt it was tasteless. Like how they say of even a non-working clock reads time correctly twice a day. Yet, this absolutely bland corn inspired this creation of truly fantastic Amboday for this Vijayadashami.

So here goes –

Amboday:

Ingredients –

5-6 corn on the cob – steamed and stripped

One med red onion – minced

One handful of cilantro or mint – finely chopped

1/2″ fresh ginger, chopped

Oats – as required

1 or 2 green chilies – chopped fine – use only if you like heat

Procedure –

Put the stripped corn and ginger into a food processor with an s-blade and get a coarse mixture.

Take the mixture into a bowl and mix in onions and greens. I happened to have methi leaves on hand. I loved using it in this recipe. If you have used green chilies, please use a spatula.

Now, you’ll find the mix is way too moist on its own – so add in oats to bind the mixture until you get a dry enough mixture.

And put the mix in the refrigerator for 10-15 min.

Then scoop out 1/8 or 1/4 cupfuls and shape them like a Vada.

And bake them at 350 or 400 until they lift easily – then flip over and bake until they turn golden brown or crisp to your liking.

And enjoy!

 

A Sweet I Made In Celebration Today

Hi, there lovely reader,
Today morning I received some sweet news that I’d been waiting for. A creative piece of work I had submitted for evaluation came through successfully. From that moment on, my heart and taste buds were chasing after me to pin me down for a ‘treat.’ 😂

Oh dear, these patterns go deep, don’t they! I was observing myself fighting the impulses, and I was beginning to feel weak as I inched towards giving in. I decided action is the best strategy to calm myself down. And see what I made!

 

 

 

Chia Pudding

It took me all of f-i-v-e minutes and tastes ah-mazing! Here’s the recipe in case I’ve tempted you enough.

Chia seeds – 2 tbsp
Any nut milk – 100 ml
Vanilla essence – 2 drops
Ripe Banana, sliced – 1 (or more if you like it sweeter)
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Pumpkin seeds – 2 tbsp

Place the ingredients mentioned in the very order that I’ve mentioned them. Then place the container in the refrigerator to chill. Leave it for at least 3-4 hours. The chia seeds will absorb the milk, and the dish will develop a pudding-like consistency. Serve it chilled.

Until next week,
much love from g

Here’s What I’d Alert You About Food Cravings

I had three people shared their stories with me last week -different people at different ages, distinctly different situations, and one common thread. Please read it for yourself to see what I mean.

I’ll call this newly minted Ph.D., new-to-workforce girl in her late 20 s, Rima. She had taken special effort to get her eating in place over the two-month gap she had, before joining for work. It had gone wonky during her student days when she was seriously time-strapped and overwhelmed with the number of things she had to get done. Her doctoral thesis, teaching assignment, stressful relationships at college – with all this and more, there was very little time and energy to even eat. Let alone cook! If and when she ate, it was veggie puff, chips, samosa, and some aerated drink – pretty much the kind of stuff one finds in a not so well stocked canteen.

Over the two months, she had brought SO much change to how she ate – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all on time, loaded with vegetables and fruit. She had lost up to ten kilos already by eating healthy (and letting go of stress and catching up on sleep, in her words). She had to attend this five-day conference shortly after joining work. On her first day at the venue, when she saw platters of all the familiar college food – now beautifully arranged in a star-hotel banquet, she was drawn to it. The next five days were all about Dahi vadas with sev and boondhi garnished with coriander and grated carrot, samosas with an assortment of gourmet fruit chutneys, colorful vegetable chips. Not just boring potato wafers from her cash-strapped student days – she was pleased! She finished her presentations, made new friends, and go home feeling accomplished. When she routinely checked her weight on the following day, she had gained five kilos in just a week.

Ann (not her real name) is a woman in her fifties. At this point in life, she is big on her hobbies and socializing outside of her work. And Ann is also very careful about her health, eating right, exercising and all that. She has a big love for sweets and desserts, but she has kept it out entirely and successfully for over six months now. Ann ran into an old friend who runs a pastry shop recently. This friend lovingly cut a very tiny piece of a pastry at her birthday party, just about a spoonful – and fed Ann, just like she did with others in her little circle of friends. However, this small spoonful has wreaked havoc as far as Ann is concerned. She’s gripped by sugar fiend that wants her sweet fix at the end of every meal, just like before. She had not had it in six months! But the recent experience has renewed her earlier association with sweets, and she’s stunned with how strongly she craves sweets at every meal now, all over again.

Lakshmi (not her real name) is a photographer. Until recently, she was mostly into baby pictures. Given how much she loves books in her spare time, a friend asked her if she would be interested in food photography for her new cookbook. Lakshmi happily agreed. Now, Lakshmi is shocked by how she has fallen in love – not just with food photography but also with the food itself. She was not big into eating, cooking, or anything to do with food earlier. What’s with the new cookbook, that led her to fall so hopelessly in love – I wanted to know. It was all about cheese-based cooking for home chefs. What was surprising to Lakshmi was that, the assignment is long over now, but all she has to do is just recollect that experience or see one of the many pictures she clicked of the pizzas, cheesecakes or cheese dosa – that’s it. It will be a full-blown urge to eat a pizza! She finds herself ordering for home delivery several times a week, and she laughs how her spending on pizzas and plates of pasta have even exceeded the fee she received for the assignment already.

Now, have you identified the common thread? Cravings!

Certain foods are addictive by nature.

Much like any other addiction, just one time of eating these foods, why – just even thinking of them, seeing them in pictures, talking about them, watching television shows of cooking them – is enough to trigger a strong urge to eat, inside your head. Given how slippery and slopey this terrain is, even one time of indulging, even in moderation or just one teeny weeny mouthful, can undo your efforts of several months and take you back to square one.

Here’s how you hand-hold yourself out of the mess all over again –

It helps to figure out what kind of cues trigger you the most. And then, come up with creative solutions to eliminate them.

For instance, if seeing food pictures cause you a temptation, stop bringing such items into your space. Be sure not to see them anywhere – not even on your smartphone, news feed, or computer.

I tend to get triggered by the aromas of food. So, I carry an essential oil inhaler, much like a Vicks inhaler tube, the only difference being mine is a lemony, citrusy fragrance that calms my nerves and centers me. So, I excuse myself from the place, and often this alone does the trick. Sometimes I may use my handy aromatherapy inhaler. Roll on natural plant perfumes made of essential oil blends and smelling salts made with herbs and/or essential oils work fabulously too.

Another handy fix would be to find something creative to do with your hands. Like coloring, for instance. Have you observed the boom in adult coloring books in recent times? A similar outcome is reported by people who do the zentangles. It takes your mind away from eating for the wrong reasons and addictive foods. Carrying a small sketch pad and pen in your bag is all it takes.

This is what I’d like to know from you – how does your craving show up for you, and what do you do about it?

Is it like you’ll be thumbing through a magazine food column, and suddenly you get up and get started with cooking a “sinfully good” recipe. Or aromas from your next-door neighbor’s kitchen hit your nose, and out of nowhere, you have the urge to eat something that you’re trying to avoid. Or just the memory of a pastry is enough to get you started ?!

Share away in the comments.

 

Fix This ONE Thing To Get A Handle On Your Cravings

This woman who got on the Mumbai train had an unusually large bag for a work commute. The last stop at VT was about an hour away, minimum. Thankfully, the train wasn’t as full, and she found a place for herself and the bag. She quickly opened a box and hurriedly ate up a vada-pav neatly packed in a steel box. I was speaking on my phone all along as I observed all this. After I got done with the phone call, I got chatting with her as that little steel box had caught my attention.

The lady loved that I appreciated her box and careful packing – not a norm for a regular commuter – and showed me her other boxes. She then casually mentioned her efforts to eat home-cooked food. She did not want to end up diabetic like her siblings, who eat most meals outside. So, she had employed a cook who, in her words, “makes everything from chips, sev-mixture, puris for chaat, at home – healthily.”

And she carries two snacks and two more substantial meals, so she doesn’t feel tempted to eat outside. ‘How lovely,’ I remarked. And before I could say another word, she broke into a mischievous smile. And said, ‘I still buy a quarter kilo of cake and some chocolates from my colleague every week – she’s also just like me, likes to make everything at home and we work in the same office – it’s a great arrangement!’

Well, well, well! How many assumptions did you count already?

Everything/anything home cooked = healthy

Vada pav, cake, chocolates, made at home – therefore healthy = okay to eat several times a day

If one eats homemade parathas for breakfast, vada pav for a mid-morning snack, some roti-sabji for lunch, vada pav again at tea time, and roti-sabji for a quick dinner – part 1, one is undoubtedly eating a good quantity of food. Not to forget several rounds of chai and small tiny helpings of cake and chocolates in between to keep the cravings at bay. And if it’s all homemade, it certainly hygienic in some sense. I am not disputing that at all.

Craving for food is not entirely taken care of by quantity and or frequent eating. This is a huge assumption and a flawed one at that.

Our bodies are designed to track the quality and quantity of the food we put in our mouths. This means that both conditions must be satisfied for the body to register satiety. This is why eating stuff like vada pav and sev mixture, cakes, chocolate, and bhel puri will cause cravings. Why you may ask. Despite the fact they all contain some healthy ingredients in them, their overall quality of the final product does not add up to anything much, even though it was all made at home.

Our body craves nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals, and it’s not asking us to fill up some empty space with yummy edible things. Paying attention to fix the nutritive quality of food we eat is critical! It’s not about buying organic vegetables to make veggie chips or vadas out them. 

Eating a boiled or steamed or baked potato is not the same as eating a deep-fried vada.

Whole wheat is not the same nutritionally, as wheat flour used in a roti or all-purpose flour used in the cake.

A sprinkling of grated carrot, cucumber, and tomato et al. in bhel puri will not make up for all the oily sev and puris.

Do you see what I’m saying?

All the sugar, oil, and salt in these foods plus the processing involved, and the cooking method – makes the vada cause more craving! The very food that we eat to battle our craving causes more of it.

With what you know now, from reading this post, what would you suggest to the train lady if she were to ask you? Share away in the comments.

 

Knowledge And Behavior Are Two Different Things

Let me share with you this insightful conversation I once had with a stranger. We were both at an airport, having some time on our hands before we could board our airplanes. She goes, ‘we all know we shouldn’t be hogging on potato chips. But I do! As a dietitian, do you also feel like it sometimes, and more importantly, how do you deal with it?’

Here’s my confession: I love deep-fried food, I always have. Chips, banana fritters made the Indian way, Onion and Cashew Pakodas (haven’t heard ..? go look up!) don’t even get me started. I can hog on these any time of the day or night, but I don’t.

Until my mid-twenties, I just ate whatever my heart yearned for, so long as it was vegetarian. Around this point, I took a course to learn what it meant to be a counselor. And my mentor said two things – first, to be helpful to others and understand them, one needs to understand oneself. The second one was, writing is a handy tool to look inwards.

So, I got into the habit of keeping a journal. It was a no holds barred kind of writing. It would have all areas of my life running into each other in a way it made sense ONLY to me! From this, I’ve dug out four findings of myself over the years, that helps to this day, in managing my ways with many things, definitely around food.

  1. Am somewhat lazy
  2. Love simplicity
  3. Need routines
  4. Am highly motivated to do the right thing

Laziness is an admirable trait to have if you want to eat healthily. It is laziness that drives me to cook a one-pot meal in a pressure cooker versus deep frying fritters, standing the entire time in front of a hot stove, making it. Rather than fight laziness, I’ve found ways to use it to my advantage creatively. For instance, we keep cookies or other treats in the top cupboard, above the refrigerator, in our house. And for extra discouragement, I’ve put our water filter over the step-stool! It takes me a good fifteen minutes PLUS back-breaking hard work to get to that damn thing that I rarely ever eat what’s up there!! Storing it out of reach is such a foolproof method for me, you have to try to see what I mean.

And if you combined this love for simplicity with laziness, you can get more uses out of the combo. Like, eating salad becomes a breeze. Especially if you’re the kind who has trouble getting started with a veggie dish but eventually love that you decided upon it. Or you may come up with new ways of substituting elaborate meals that take only a fraction of the time. 

For example, Medjool date stuffed with nuts makes for a very satisfying dessert. We were served this at a party recently, and it vanished off the plate in just minutes. Nobody thought it was stupid or blah! The hostess here definitely came across as someone who embraces her simplicity. We have another couple in our friend circle. And in their house, breakfast for the warmer half of the year is always fruit. Just plain fruit – a bowl of berries or sliced melons or a banana or some fruit.

How rattling it is if I have to figure out a schedule for the basic stuff daily—not happening! Mondays and Thursdays, I walk with friends – it is all fixed – time, duration, where we meet, everything. Three days a week, we eat some dishes made of greens. Then, our Indian ritual of skipping the elaborate cooked meal on the Ekadashi. Many of us have and like our routines, but it is vital to understand that they are not set in stone. If there are some habits you had as part of your routine that isn’t serving you well, they can be changed. Practices do fall off with me too, and I put them back from time to time. Recently I’ve re-introduced the sprouts into my routine.

When you are highly driven to do the right thing, even slight support from people in your lives can do wonders. And it is even better when we can articulate how we’d like to be supported and delegate. For example, you can ask them to encourage (or discourage) at the right times. Last evening, I wanted to munch on something very badly. My husband was his usual generous self to get up and bring some goodies on a plate. Then I went ‘oh, my mouth is all too sweet, and now I want some savories.’

I’ll pause right here. This is where endless sweet-savories-sweet craziness can use some help.

On my own, I tend to forget to get mindful. I am all caught up about the party in my mouth, and little else matters. But! If there is a well-meaning person that can recognize the craziness on your behalf and help you get aware, it can be averted.

Over time, I’ve come to a point where I need only a slight help and not a lot. If we’ve company, then my husband says a blank-faced” huh??” and pretends not to have understood me. It’s enough to redirect me to whatever activity on hand. If we’re by ourselves, he may suggest that I fetch it for myself.

Going back to the story, he quipped just in time ‘sure, just bring it’ – I took the cue and decided to focus on the movie instead! The tricky part here was to see that he was helping me and, therefore, not get sour about him. Was it purely my motivation to do the right thing, it’s difficult to say for a fact. But in combination with my laziness, it sure worked in my favor.

One month after that airport lounge chat, my new friend, facebook-ed to say she had figured out one useful finding of herself: how she likes four of everything. She went by the number four as if on an autopilot – four spoons of oil, four cookies with tea, four servings at meals! Next, she decided to pre-cut all the cookies in the jar to a half. She switched the spoon next to the oil jar to a smaller one. And when she baked a pizza next time, she first packed away one half and only served the other, cut into four wedges. She noticed she did not even miss it. And it was a treat to have more left for tomorrow’s lunch, without also trying! I remembered her saying she was a leading Actuary in her town, and it all made sense of how she had expertly drawn these conclusions.

So, why am I sharing all this with you?

Here’s why – I’d like you to understand one thing deeply – we don’t get healthy by reading a book or getting a master’s degree in health sciences. All this adds to your knowledge base. It’s like saying, I’ve got bags of food loaded in my pantry. But it does NOT mean your hunger is satiated. Right? You have to put in some effort to translate that knowledge to real action steps, which comes down to what we do in tiny increments day after day.

It would help if you took the time to observe yourself for these traits and quirks that drive your behavior to modify them in a way that works for you. It is like acknowledging the motorist tendency to speed at particular points and putting a speed breaker in place. Only you are responsible for installing your behavioral controls for certain things in life.

Did you find this useful? Share about one behavior that you’ve happily retained or modified, and what was your tool to achieve that?

Love,

Giri