How to Stay Healthy – Even in A Demanding Job

The changing lifestyles with increased work pressure and long working hours are many times considered to be the most used excuses by the general working class for overlooking their health. We do understand that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not easy, but it certainly isn’t an impossible task to accomplish.

A 2016 report by Optum inferred that 46% of the corporate workforce in India suffers from some form of mental or physical health issue. The report further suggested that 30% of the workforce was at high risk of diabetes or hypertension. 43% of the employees who took the survey had a skewed BMI (Body Mass Index), and out of this 43%, 30% were at high risk of hypertension and 46% were burdened with excessive stress.

Heavy pay cheques come at a heavier price – health. Stress has been touted as one of the primary culprits behind 78% human health issues across the globe. In another survey by Optum, they found out the following significant stressors of corporate India:

  • Higher salaries, higher expectations. This burdens the employee to give more than hundred percent of their ability to their employers and organisations
  • The unpredictability of professional environment. Office politics induces fear of job retention
  • Lifestyle issues like sleep disorder, poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity
  • Pressure to maintain a certain standard of living 

What Can Organisations Do?

Declining health is a pressing issue both for employers and employees. And to bring in a change in the working environment, both need to work together towards achieving this goal. Organisations can facilitate employee health by adopting these simple measures:

  1. Workout Area or Access to Exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. An able adult should workout for at least 30 minutes every day to maintain a healthy body and mind. By providing a workout area or a well-equipped gym, organisations can help in promoting healthy living. Studies have shown that easy access to the gym or a running circuit acts as an encouraging element for people to take up physical activity. 

  1. Company / Team Outings

Company outings are the best ways for the employees to unwind and rejuvenate.  Such outings not only let the employees put their hair down and enjoy but also allow them to open up on various interpersonal issues thereby creating a friendly bond amongst the colleagues.

  1. Recreational or Quiet Space

Most jobs demand some space, especially creative ones. Organisations can help employees by creating a designated quiet chamber for them to unwind and think clearly. Recreational spaces are more about engaging employees with the availability of games like chess, carom, etc. As per the demand of the nature of the work, employers can provide for such spaces inside the office campuses.

What Can Employees do?

Employers can only encourage healthy living by providing means for achieving a healthy lifestyle, but it is ultimately the employee who needs to avail and utilise the available resources. Besides that, inculcating some simple healthy habits can help you in leading a good and healthy lifestyle. Adopt these simple changes in your routine and see your health improve.

  1. Healthy Eating Habits

As clichéd as it may sound, but your body is what you feed it. Long working hours can be tiresome but it does not provide you with an excuse to overlook what you are feeding to your body. Follow these simple changes to see a difference:

  • Supplement your snack time with nuts and protein bars instead of eating junk food during break hours.
  • Cut down on your soda and processed juices. If you need refreshment, opt for fresh juices or lemon juice.
  • Drink, drink, and drink as much water as you can throughout the day.
  • Start your day with a glass of water.
  1. Sleep Cycle

Cut down on your recreational activities if they demand to compromise on your sleeping hours. There’s no medicine as good as a sound 8 hours sleep. The body organs and mind undergoes reparation when the body is at rest during night hours. You need to provide it ample time for this process. Lack of sleep and sleep disorders have become a household name in today’s time. Learn to cut out from the world and invest in sleep.

  1. Increase Movement

Long sitting hours have played a major role in deteriorating health of the employees. Sitting is considered as dangerous as smoking these days. You are putting your body at more than one health risk if you are sitting continuously for long hours. Doing so increases belly fat which in return puts you at high risk of diabetes and various heart-related issues. Take breaks at regular intervals of 30-40 mins. Just walk to the water cooler to refill your bottle. Make sure to maintain correct posture by keeping your spine and shoulders straight. Dropping shoulders and slouching spine results in back pains, cold shoulders, and stiff neck.

The adage ‘Health is wealth’ makes more sense than ever. In a quest to achieve your career goals, don’t neglect your health. A man is what he is only until he has a fit and able body. An unhealthy mind and body will be of no service either to you or your family. Maintaining good health is as important as earning your bread and butter. Don’t ignore the former for the latter. With these simple and easy steps, you can lead a healthy life.

Organic is Not the Same as Natural – Know the Difference

Eating healthy seems hard, you can take all the efforts to cook a variety of foods from various groups, but you may still be doing damage to your health. This damage can be attributed to the production process of your ingredients. While browsing the aisles of the supermarket, you will be bombarded with terms within the health foods zone such as ‘natural’, ‘gluten-free’, ‘organic’ and so on. Some food items suspiciously have all three labels slapped on them which may make you feel as though you’re purchasing the healthiest food on the block but don’t be fooled, this is just a marketing strategy and has little to do with the adoption of processes and regulations. To understand this better, let’s zoom into two words in particular, ‘organic’ and ‘natural’. Are they the same? In short, no. Although these two processes may sound similar to a layman, there are a few key differences that you must consider before you decide which is better for you.

1) The definition itself

The very meaning of these terms used in the context of products differs. Organic foods refer to foods which are produced using calculated, artificial ingredients which enhance the quality of the food. For example, most vegan nut milk is fortified with B-12 because plant-based diets are lacking in this vitamin. This is a healthy addition that helps vegans and lactose intolerant people meet their daily nutritional requirements without compromising on their ethical and lifestyle choices. Organic foods must pass stringent quality checks which include evaluations of the machinery, processes, raw ingredients and environmental impact studies. You may notice some organic products may also have a label which says ‘fair trade’, this means that the product is organic, and the materials used to create it were sourced responsibly, sustainably and ethically. Natural foods, on the other hand, are those foods that are minimally processed and synthesized but have no guarantee of the manufacturing and handling process. So in a nutshell, organic products have a strict set of rules and regulations and are monitored by third-party organizations whereas natural products retain their natural form as far as possible, but have no guarantee in terms of the production process. You just have to take the brand’s word for it!

2) The ‘certified’, healthier option

What’s the healthier option- eating a store-bought, organic granola bar, or, consuming a handful or raw dates, almonds, figs, and oats? Most people would think that the natural ingredients may be healthier, but they overlook factors such as hygiene, the growing process and the sustainability. The granola bar may just be the healthier option, even though it may appear “unnatural”. Besides the loopholes in the production process, organic is better in this department because getting your product “certified organic” is a huge deal, and is extremely hard to obtain. Certification bodies exist in most countries, however, the most widely recognized, international body is the USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture. When buying a product, look for the labels “USDA approved” and certified organic. The USDA takes on full responsibility for the authenticity of the products that it certifies so you can rest assured that what you’re consuming has gone through a top-notch production process. There are no such regulatory bodies for natural foods.

3) Hard-earned labels

If you look closely, organic food labels differ from natural ones since the processes are double-checked by a third party. You can’t say the same for natural foods. Anyone can put a label saying 100% natural because there are no governing bodies to monitor and verify these things. If you’ve studied nutrition labels closely, you may have noticed fruit juice brands which say ‘natural’ fruit juice, but if you read the fine print, you’ll always find a disclaimer that states “contains no real fruit”. This is how some brands are sneaky and market their products as “natural” because most people will blindly buy them thinking that they’re ‘natural’. In the case of organic products, it can take years to get certified, and once you are, you can expect surprise quality checks at any time!

4) The product itself

Experts suggest that organic foods are much healthier, more hygienic, and are safer to consume than natural foods. This is because of the production process. Organic foods follow processes which eliminate the use of toxic pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics and other harmful substances. In the case of organic fruits and vegetables, the soil used is absolutely safe and free from these harmful chemicals and growth enhancers. When you buy ‘natural’ products, on the other hand, you can never be sure about the production process. Did you know that animals are pumped with growth hormones, antibiotics and in case of dairy cows, estrogen and testosterone? Not only is this incredibly cruel from an ethical perspective, but this is also highly dangerous to human health. Organic meat production eliminates all this, organic meats are free range, grass-fed and are not pumped with any hormones or fatteners. Same goes with vegetables.

5) Shelf life

Do you associate the shelf-life with the quality and health of a food? This is a rookie mistake. Just because some foods have a very long shelf life does not mean that they’re unhealthy, and vice versa. Organic foods have a higher shelf life due to the presence of the permitted preservatives and packaging practices. These processes do not affect the overall health and nutritional value of the food, they only help preserve it. Most natural foods are perishable, but this is not a sign of freshness because one can never be sure of the production process itself. What’s the point of having a super fresh vegetable if it was pumped with chemicals in order to grow? One can also never be sure of the storage conditions of natural foods. All this is eliminated with organic food because of the third party regulators.

6) Legal implications

Did you know that there are legal repercussions for misusing the ‘organic’ label? Brands must be certified by a regulated body to be able to call themselves ‘organic’.  This is not the case with natural foods, anyone can slap on a ‘100% natural’ label on a product since there are no active governing regulatory bodies to rectify this.

So which is the healthier option for YOU? A healthy, well-planned, balanced and informed diet can consist of both, organic and natural foods, as long as they are responsibly sourced. When it comes to things like vegetables, growing your own food is your best bet, but that may not be plausible for everyone. If you can, try to opt for organic vegetables and meat as far as possible because these are the foods that contain the most toxic elements such as pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics and getting the organic variant ensures that the food you buy is free from these harmful chemicals.

Your Most Common Nutrition Questions Answered Here

Staying fit and healthy is not an overnight task. It is a lifelong commitment. Exercising and eating right are two peas in a pod. A good exercise regime has to be backed by a good eating routine and vice versa. In today’s changing lifestyles and fast-paced lives, we often relegate health to the bottom of our need’s pyramid only to pay heed when the body reminds us, not so subtly, of lack of nutrition and healthy routine.

The most important ingredient for healthy living is eating right and consuming a nutritious diet. Inadequate intake of nutrients can cause various health issues like stringing aches in various parts of the body, fatigue, weak bones, poor concentration, etc. Most of the people think consuming nutritious diet comprises of going on a strict diet and ditching their favourite foods forever. But, that’s not the case. With so much of information available on the internet, one is bound to get confused.

Here are some of the most commonly asked nutrition questions that beginners often have:

  • I am new, where should I begin?

The question that muddles every beginner is where they should begin from when it comes to eating right. The first and foremost thing to do is to understand your body’s nutrition need. Each body has a different requirement depending upon their physical work, weight, height, age, and gender. As they say, an excess of everything is harmful. Any nutrient in excess can lead to harmful consequences. One needs to understand the right quantity of nutrients to be consumed for their body type. Don’t blindly follow something that a friend or acquaintance of yours is following. No two bodies work in a similar pattern. Something that worked for you might not work for a friend of yours. Always take guidance from a certified nutritionist before adding or cutting down anything in your diet.

  • Which diet should I follow?

Following a diet doesn’t mean starving yourself. Starving is the worst thing one can do to their body. A healthy diet comprises of foods that take care of the essential nutrients and minerals required by your body. There are various diets like Keto, Low Carb Diet (LCD), No Carb Diet (NCD), No Sugar Diet (NSD), Low Sugar Diet (LSD), Liquid diets etc. Choose a diet depending on your body and fitness goals. For example: If a person with low blood pressure opts for a NSD i.e. no sugar diet, she is bound to suffer fatigue and dizziness. Hence, it is essential to understand your body before trying out any diet. Consult your physician or a nutritionist before starting a diet.

  • How effective is high protein diet?

A high protein diet should be backed by a heavy and rigorous workout regime. Proteins take time to break down and digest. A heavy workout helps in faster ingestion of proteins in the body. If a person is not working out and consuming high protein diet, he is bound to feel lethargic as body’s maximum energy will be consumed in digesting the protein intake.

  • Should I opt for the no carbs diet?

Every nutrient is essential for a fit and sound functioning of the body. Completely eliminating any nutrient from the body is not advisable. Carbs are the main source of energy for your body. Moreover, following a no carb diet gets a little tough to keep up with. Completely eliminating carbs from your diet is a herculean challenge. A no carb diet will leave you drained out than usual. Don’t go for it unless it is specifically advised by your nutritionist.

  • How important is it to keep calories count?

Counting calories can be confusing in the beginning with various food items/dishes cooked and prepared in different styles. It is difficult to give a universal calorie count for any particular dish. On the other hand, when consuming fruits and nuts, you have a definite calorie count. If you are overweight to obese and looking forward to cutting down some weight, keeping a check on your calorie intake can be helpful. By counting calories, one is able to strike a balance between the calories consumed and calories burnt ratio thereby initiating faster and healthier weight reduction process.  You can take help of some smartphone apps for this.

  • What is nutrient timing?

Nutrient timing is all about what you are eating and when you are eating. Every nutrient has a different absorption period and until and unless you allow your body the time to absorb the consumed nutrients, it’s futile. You will only end up adding calories by not paying attention to the nutrient timing. One must be aware of the foods to eat before, during and post a workout. For example – Consuming proteins prior to workout helps in initiating faster and proper digestion since proteins take longer to digest and the rigorous body activity helps in speeding up the process.

  • How many meals a day should I eat?

More than the number of meals, the proportion of your meal matters. Eating small portions is the best practice to follow. Longer periods between meals make you feel hungrier and by the time you start eating, you end up binging and putting much more than what your body requires. This meddles with your metabolism leading to slower digestion process and bloating of the stomach. It is healthy to have 5-7 small meals in a day. By meals, we don’t mean full meals. Create a proper balance between your nutrients intake by adding a different kind of food products in your five meals of the day.

  • What should a healthy diet comprise of?

A healthy diet doesn’t mean completely cutting down on carbs and fats. There are good and bad fats. Before cutting down or adding anything in your diet, it is essential to gain knowledge about how the nutrition cycle works. For example – Cheese and ghee fall under good fats and are required by the body. But, it is important to know what quantity one is supposed to consume. Anything beyond the required quantity is going to create trouble for the body.

Again, when it comes to nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all. Eating right is a lifestyle and one must adapt to it to stay healthy. Gain knowledge, talk to experts, and you will be able to make the right eating choices without necessarily cutting down on anything.

 

15 Food Combinations to Avoid at All Costs

We, Indians, love our food more than anything else in this world. Any occasion or celebration is incomplete without a huge spread of sumptuous and delicious food. And why shouldn’t it be? With a food culture as diverse as our country, there’s never a lack of options. But, do you know how the food combinations affect your digestive system and overall gastronomic health?

The changing trends in health and nutrition with humungous emphasis on healthy living and eating right, it is essential to know about the pros and cons of our food / food habits.

You would be shocked to see the most common food combinations making to our list of 15 food combinations that you should avoid at all cost.

  1. Consuming Fruits Just After a Meal

Many Indians still abide by the old saying – ‘Khaali pet jal, bhar pet phal’ which is the biggest mistake that we commit as per the nutritionists. Fruits are quick and easy to digest. However, combining them with food slows down the digestion process. Moreover, when fruits are consumed with a food item or immediately after a meal, it stays in the stomach for longer making it ferment and act like sugar. Fruits are best consumed alone either 20-30 minutes before a meal or an hour post a meal. 

  1. Eating Cheese and Meat Omelette

Combining two sources of protein in one meal can create havoc on your digestive system. Proteins are hard to digest and consume a lot of energy. Mixing two sources of high proteins can drain you out while being tough on your digestive tract as well.

  1. Eating Cheese Sandwich with Coffee

The carbs in your bread creates a hurdle in consumption of calcium present in the cheese. A cheese sandwich only adds to your calorie count without adding any nutritious value to your body. Coffee further aggravates the issue of breaking down fats present in cheese.

  1. Drinking Juices / Water / Any kind of Liquids with Food

Fancy a glass of orange juice with your breakfast or can’t push down the food without a glass of water? You should stop doing that right away. Consuming juices or any kind of liquids with meals dilutes enzymes in your stomach which slows down the process of breaking down and digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is recommended to drink water 10-15 minutes before a meal and to wait for at least 40 minutes after meals.

  1. Munching Salted Nuts with Alcoholic Beverages

Munching salty nuts and mixtures while drinking alcoholic drinks is a very common practice. Consumption of alcohol initiates dehydration of the body. Consuming high-salt foods is anyway harmful for the body and when combined with alcohol it further adds to dehydration of the body.

  1. Consuming Carbs with Meat / Animal Protein

Love your butter chicken and naan combo? Do we see you drooling already? Sorry to break this to you but you should never combine animal protein with carbohydrates. The different digestive juices produced when animal protein and carbs are consumed will nullify the effect of both thereby causing gastric reactions. The heaviness that you feel afterwards is the result of mixing these two.

  1. Consuming Salad with Meals

Mixing cooked and uncooked can be harsh on the digestive system. The digestion time and digestive juices required to digest cooked and raw foods are different. Mixing these two puts pressure on the digestive system. Moreover, salads are filling and a complete meal themselves.

  1. Consuming Fruits with Flavoured Yogurt

The bacteria present in yogurt acts with the sugar in fruits. The combination results in toxins and you end up suffering from cold and other allergies. If you can’t give up on this combination, then it is advisable to replace your flavoured yogurt with the plain one and top it with either honey or raisins.

  1. Consuming Cucumber, Yogurt or Tomato with Sprinkled Lemon Juice

Lemon, when combined with cucumber, yogurt or tomato causes acidic reactions. Avoid sprinkling lemon juice over your bowl of salad that contains cucumber and tomato.

  1. Consuming Beans with Cheese

This combination is native to the Mexican cuisine. Beans are believed to induce gas, but the truth is that beans alone aren’t as harmful as combined with cheese. This combination is a sure shot resultant of bloating and gas. If you have a weak digestive system, you should avoid this.

  1. Consuming Milk with Any Food and Fruit

Combining milk with any other food item like coconut, walnut, vegetables, and fruits cause disturbances of digestive enzymes resulting in acidic reactions. Milk is best consumed alone without any accompaniment.

  1. Consuming Carbonated drinks with Food

Are you in the habit of guzzling down a glass of cola with your pizza or post a heavy meal? This is the worst thing you can do to your body. The high content of sugar mixes along with the sugar you consume in your food. This takes days to break down and digest thereby causing your body to consume a high amount of fats resulting in weight gain.

  1. Mixing Milk with Tea

India runs on chai and we love our cup of tea too much to give it up for anything. But, hey, consuming more than 2 cups of tea with milk can prove to be fatally acidic. It causes burning of the digestive tract. Tea is healthy and beneficial when consumed without milk.

  1. Consuming Chapati and Rice in one Meal

Combining two different types of grains in the same meal exerts pressure on your digestive system. The digestion requirement for these two is different and hence, when consumed together, it can result in constipation and gas.

  1. Consuming Cooked Ghee and Honey

Both ghee and honey are best when consumed raw. Heating them destroys the nutritious value and depletes them to nothing but a fatty food product. Ghee and honey in equal weight can be a poisonous mixture. Ghee is a cooling agent and honey’s a heating agent. The resultant mixture of these two opposite agents is poisonous.

 

Want to Change your Life for Better? Adapt these 15 Food Swaps

The most important step towards healthy living is eating right. What if we tell you that you can cut down on calories while still munching a delicious snack? Yes, cutting down calories doesn’t mean cutting down on food. You just need to swap calorie-laden food with a low-fat alternative. And, low-fat doesn’t mean an insipid or an unappetizing food option. Consider this; you can swap those high-calorie French toasts with low-fat wholegrain waffles. Doesn’t seem to be boring, right?
We shall see some a flotilla of food swaps for your meals as well as drinks that will help you in cutting down those extra calories.

Breakfast


Being the first meal of the day, breakfast should be filling, albeit healthy, to keep you energised for the rest of your day. Here are a few simple and easy food swaps that are high on that nutritious value with comparatively fewer calories:

Milk and Cornflakes
Replace your ‘milk and cornflakes’ breakfast with a healthier alternative. Cut down the calories by swapping to skimmed milk with a wholegrain cereal. The skimmed milk has lower fat percentage (5%) and the wholegrain cereal helps in cutting down the sugar intake.

Bread
Anything teamed up with bread makes for a delicious breakfast option. Swap your regular bread with either wholegrain or gluten-free ones. The latter are high in protein (30%) and fibre as compared to regular bread.

Flavoured Yogurt
Swap the flavoured low-fat yogurt with a fat-free alternative. Ditch the flavour for Greek yogurt which has just 100 calories (serving of a bowl) compared to 221 calories in a flavoured one.

Lunch

The mid-day meal is the trickiest. A heavy meal makes you sluggish for the rest of the day and starving yourself would result in binging during snack hours. Here are a few food swap options that will provide the required amount of nutrition and energy to get along for the rest of your day:

Parantha
Love your parantha too much to let it go? Simply swap a lachha parantha with a methi ki roti cooked with olive oil. It is likely to reduce calories by 240.

Rice
Swap your bowl of white rice with brown rice. Brown rice has higher nutritious value than the white rice which is imbued with a high content of carbs.

Cheese
Parting with cheese is a tall order for many. The simple solution is to swap cheddar and mozzarella cheeses with goat cheese or hard cheese. This will help you cut down the calorie count by at least 57 without starving taste-buds.

Snacks

More often than not, one can give up snacking with little effort but if you still feel the urge to binge on something between lunch and dinner hours, make sure it to be something healthy for this is the hour of the day when the calorie count takes a steep rise.

  • Swap your salty roasted nuts with plain uncoated nuts. A handful of salted peanuts alone contain 170 calories, whereas a handful of mixed plain nuts have 160 calories.
  • Ditch the regular milk chocolate for dark chocolate. It not just helps in cutting down calories but the dark compound is known to have a good effect on mood.
  • Control your sugar rush by swapping sugary snacks and juices with fruits. The natural sugar and fibres in fruits is a healthier alternative.

Dinner

Dinner has to be the lightest meal of the day because post dinner you seldom have any physical activity to carry out; hence you end up piling on dinner calories rather than burning them.

Meat
Swap your large chunks of meat with leaner pieces during dinner. If you can’t do that, then opt for grilled meat at night. Grilled meat is filling yet has lesser calories.

Mashed Potatoes
Swap the calorie-laden butter and milk for skimmed milk and low-fat butter while preparing a serving of mashed potatoes. This will help you keep around 45 calories at bay.

Mixed Vegetable
Replace the mixed vegetable gravy with stir fried vegetables. This will cut down the calorie count by at least 120 along with higher nutritious value than the former.

Drinks

Ever paid heed to the calorie count in your favourite cocktail? Ditch your regular high-calorie cocktail for these low-cal ones:

Long Island Iced Tea
Who doesn’t love LIT? You will certainly stop loving it after knowing that one typical serving of LIT contains approximately 800 calories! Swap this evergreen cocktail with Raspberry Lemonade Martini. A simple cocktail prepared with one part (shot) of gin and Triple Sec in Raspberry Lemonade. This simple swap could save you at least 600 calories!

Grasshopper Martini
A single serving of Grasshopper Martini has around 550 calories. Swap it with Apple Martini which has approximately 150 calories.

Mai Tai
If you are the one who enjoys their rum, then swap Mai Tai with Rum & Diet Coke. The latter has the lowest calorie amongst the varied options of cocktail available.

Staying healthy is a road with no destination. It is an everyday task. Back-up your strenuous workout gym sessions with these healthy food swaps to keep a check on your calorie count. Imbibe these simple recipes in your daily gastronomical activities and move towards a healthier and fitter living.