A Changing World

Last Updated: Jul 28, 2009, 22:09 PM IST

Sandhya Gugnani

In today’s fast shrinking world, there is no getting away from the dramatic change in work-spheres. Advances in communication and information technology have made globalisation a reality, but they also seem to be dictating our lives that follow the Sun into different time zones. Gone are the 9 to 5 days: Everyone seems to have a 24-hour job. Relaxation comes in highly pressurized time capsules that have to be taken on the run.

Add to that the increase in double incomes in family units that are decreasing in size. As the kitchen has been scaled down from being the heart of the home to a streamlined functional annexe, eating habits have changed. Conveniently packed and processed foods dominate; the majority of meals are made up of packed lunches, restaurant food, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas . . .

No wonder the age has been invaded by lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and obesity.

This is where a nutritionist must step in to promote healthy eating habits & prevent illness. As there is increasing evidence that diet plays a major role in defence against disease and its cure.

Before I give more information about this incredible & practical approach to achieve sound health & work efficiency, let’s start with healthy grocery.

The first step to healthy cooking is bringing home the right products. With a grocery list in hand, you won’t wander into the junk food aisles and make impulse purchases. You can copy or print out this list or you can make your own.

Here`s What to Include on Your Healthy Grocery List

• Fresh vegetables and fruits should make up the largest part of your healthy foods grocery list. Vegetables and fruits have vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and they are usually low in calories. We all need at least five or more servings of vegetables and fruits every day.

• Most of your grain and cereal products should be made from whole grains, not from refined flours. This part of your list includes whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, and whole grain breakfast cereals. Whole grains are important for vitamins, minerals, and for fiber, which is often lacking in modern diets. Read labels to look for 100% whole-grain or 100% whole-wheat to be sure you are getting whole grain products.

• Your protein and meat choices should consist mostly of fish, poultry and lean meats. Eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are also good protein choices. Choose fresh and frozen unbreaded meats and fish. Avoid breaded, deep-fried convenience foods that you put in the oven. They are high in fats and sodium.

• Beverages should be kept simple. Water, low-fat milk, juices and herbal teas are all good choices. If you opt for soft drinks, choose diet sodas and soft drinks to avoid extra sugar.

• Dairy products should include low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. If you do not want cows` milk, choose soy and rice beverages, calcium-fortified orange juice, or goats` milks and cheese.

• Be careful with dressings, cooking oils and condiments. They are sneaky sources of refined sugar and poor quality oils. Read labels to choose dressings made with olive oil or canola oil. Choose low-fat mayonnaise for your sandwiches and choose canola oil and olive oil for cooking.

• Frozen foods are a convenient way to keep vegetables at hand. There are also prepared meals that you can pop into the microwave or oven. These can be convenient and healthy if you choose low fat versions with good portion sizes. Read labels and chose frozen foods wisely. Avoid frozen pizzas, pocket-sandwiches, deep-fried appetizers, and breaded foods.

• Foods in cans and jars are also very convenient. Look for low-sodium soups, vegetables and sauces. Avoid high-fat gravies and high-calorie foods like canned spaghetti and ravioli products.

• For sandwiches, choose peanut butter or other nut butters, low-fat turkey slices or sliced roast chicken. Avoid processed lunch meats, sausages and hot dogs.
• Don`t load up on high calorie treats and desserts. Choose fresh fruits, healthy nuts, seeds and whole grain crackers for snacks.

Look out for the next article on Healthy, quick & easy meals…..

Sandhya Gugnani is a practicing Nutritionist and is attached with Zee Business for television/ cookery show called “THE GREAT CHEFS OF INDIA” as a nutrition expert. She can be contacted on her E-Mail ID sandhya.gugnani@gmail.com.