Decoding Healthy Diet and Nutrition with Pushpa Ladsariya, Nutritionist

Given the current busy and stressful lives that we lead, following healthy food habits has become a must for everyone – young or old; working or not working. To find out what all we must do & eat or not do and eat to remain healthy, we got in touch with Mumbai-based nutritionist Pushpa Ladsariya.

Here is an excerpt of an interview (email) with her.

Foodport (FP): Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you interested in pursuing a career in nutrition?

Pushpa Ladsariya (PL): I am a graduate in Biology from K.C. College, Mumbai, and have Post Graduate Diploma in Diet and Nutrition. I have specialized in sports nutrition from ACSM (American College of Sports Nutrition).

After my children went abroad I had to pursue some career, so decided upon practicing as a nutrionist. Cooking was my passion. Combining my passion with my profession, I have devised innovative, healthy and tasty recipes. My diet and nutrition programme is sustainable and compatible with socialising.

I feel it is a matter of deep concern that lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, have tremendously increased in the past few decades. These diseases have a direct co-relation with sedentary lifestyle and consumption of unhealthy food.

FP: What according to you, forms a healthy diet for young people? What are the foods (veg/non-veg) that they must include in their daily diet?

PL: A correct combination of food (carbohydrate, protein and fat) in measured quantity as per their BMR (basic metabolic rate) and activity level is an ideal diet for every human being, young or old. They must include one cereal, protein, like beans, pulse or paneer, some vegetable and curd in their meal. Non-vegetarians can replace beans and pulses with non-veg proteins like chicken, eggs or fish.

FP: What kind of a diet/exercise regime would you prescribe for young men-women aiming to lose weight?

PL: Young men-women aiming to lose weight Should Not Starve. When you starve, your body loses the ability to use fat as energy & instead starts conserving the calories by lowering BMR. Instead, just watch what you eat, try and eat balanced meals at least four times a day. Include some fat in the diet as fat free diets can lead to deficiency of essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Satiety value of fat free diets is low thus making a person feel hungry all the time. The type of fat being consumed is also crucial whether it is saturated or unsaturated fatty acids. The amount of calories that one should take per day varies from person to person. It depends on various factors like age, height, weight, lifestyle pattern, daily activities, metabolic rate, etc. This is best decided by a qualified nutritionist. You can get in touch with a professional nutritionist, who, depending on your requirement, will formulate your calorie chart.

To lose weight, make sure you eat enough during the course of the day but the right kind of food. Choose fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals & pulses and proteins in the form of toned milk and its products, lean meat, fish & poultry but limit fats and sugars.

Juices are concentrated sources of energy and have added sugar content. Eating whole fruit would be more beneficial for your health.

Water is the key part of any weight – loss programme. One should drink at least 10 -12 glasses of water everyday. It is essential as it helps to reduce fat but is good for overall health as well.

In order to be healthy one should follow a balanced diet, indulge in 30 minutes of physical activity, drink plenty of water, and be active throughout the day. You start burning fat only after you are 20 minutes into workout. So it’s important that you continue your cardio – cycling, running or walking – for over 20 minutes if you want to burn fat.

A combination of physical activity of at least a 30 minute walk per day with a moderation in calorie intake would do wonders. Drastic weight loss programs can be rarely sustained. Just avoiding refined sugars, desserts, deep fried foods and bakery products, aerated bottled drinks itself can cut down a large amount of calories.

FP: Given the competitive work environment, a lot of people spend around 12-15 hours at work. These people find it difficult to take out time to take care of their health, exercise…can you suggest some diet and exercise tips that these people can follow?

PL: They can increase activity level, climb the stairs instead of taking an elevator, walk while talking on the phone, and can do some desk exercises. Instead of meeting someone at coffee shop can meet on a walk, thus you kill two birds with one stone. If one has a will there is a way.

Bottom line: If you want to lose weight, don’t be lazy and take a good look at what’s on your plate!

FP: What should an ideal meal for male/females in the age group of 25-40 consist of?

PL: Given below is a sample diet plan to give you an idea of how you would be eating. However, before you read the same, kindly note these points:

Your individual diet plan should be designed keeping in mind your:

  • Food choices (veg, non-veg, favorite foods, religion)
  • Food availability
  • Health condition
  • Individual calorie requirements
  • Weight loss goals
  • Work & Lifestyle

There are many more varieties that are allowed in the diet & the portion sizes are different for everyone.
We provide several recipes to our clients to make regular food tastier & healthier. Healthy foods like veg juices, pasta, parathas, salads, smoothies can be made very tasty with a bit of creativity.

Here is an example of how a nutritious and balanced vegetarian diet might look like:

Early Morning: 1 to 2 fruits

Breakfast: Poha / Upma / Idli- sambar/ Paratha and Milk

Mid Morning: Buttermilk

Lunch: Chapatis/Rice + Subzi + Dal + Salad

Snacks: Sprouts or Veggies with dip/ Bhel / Open sandwich

Dinner: Soup + Dal + Rice/Chapatis + Subzi

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