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Lifestyle changes in cardio-vascular diseases

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

Lifestyle and dietary modifications are the cornerstone in CVD prevention. Given below are different lifestyle and dietary approaches which are recommended to manage the major modifiable CVD risk factors and hence CVR risk:

  • Saturated fat should be replaced with MUFA or PUFA to reduce LDL-cholesterol.
  • Foods with added plant sterols/stanols are effective in reducing LDL-cholesterol when consumed in recommended amounts (1.5-3 g/day)
  • Consume 25-45 g of dietary fiber per day of which 5-15 g of soluble fibers from foods rich in these fibers for a cholesterol-lowering effect
  • Salt intake should be reduced below 5 g/day by avoiding table salt and limiting salt in cooking and by choosing foods low in added salt.
  • The intake of beverages and foods with added sugars, particularly soft drinks, should be limited, particularly for patients with hypertriglyceridemia. Sugar intake should not exceed 10% of total energy.
  • Physical activity should be encouraged, aiming at regular physical exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • A BMI of < 25 kg/m2 is associated with favorable effects on BP and dyslipidemia
  • For those who drink alcoholic beverages, moderation should be advised (no more than 1drink/day for women and 1-2 drinks/day for men) and patients with hypertriglyceridemia should abstain.
  • Use and exposure to tobacco and even passive smoking has to be avoided.

Dry Skin Care

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

What Is Dry Skin?

Dry skin is when your skin dries out because it doesn’t have enough moisture. It isn’t usually serious, but it can be irritating. If your dry skin is severe, you should see a doctor.

There are many causes of dry skin from the temperature outside to how much moisture is in the air and many types.

Types of Dry Skin

Although dry skin is usually temporary, there are types of dry skin that could last year-round. If your dry skin lasts a long time, it could be one of these types:

  • Athlete’s foot: If your feet feel dry, it could actually be athlete’s foot. This condition, which results from a fungus, can make the soles of your feet dry and flaky.
  • Contact dermatitis: Sometimes things that touch your skin cause an allergic reaction. Your skin could get dry, itchy, and red. You might also get a rash. It can happen with things like makeup products, medications, detergents, or metal in jewelry (nickel).
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis): If you have dry, red, and itchy parts of your skin, you could have eczema. This can make your skin crack, too. You can get this skin condition from your parents, but things like allergens, stress, and other irritants can make it worse.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: When your scalp is too dry, you can get dandruff. (It’s called cradle cap when babies get it.) You might have dry, flaky skin on your arms, legs, groin, face, ears, or near your bellybutton, too.

Dry Skin Causes and Risk Factors

Usually, dry skin happens because of things in the environmental, like the weather. Dry skin can be caused by: [1]

  • Harsh detergents or soaps: Soaps, shampoos, and detergents are made to get rid of oil on your skin. That means they can also dry it out by stripping out all the moisture.
  • Heat: Any heat source, from space heaters and central heating to fireplaces and wood stoves, can lower the humidity in a room and make your skin dry.
  • Hot showers or baths: Taking long, hot showers or soaking in a hot bath could cause your dry skin.
  • Other skin conditions: People with certain conditions, like psoriasis or eczema, can also get dry skin.
  • Swimming in pools: Chlorine, a chemical that keeps some pools clean, can dry out your skin.
  • Weather: During the winter, humidity and temperature usually drop. This can make your skin drier.

Dry Skin Symptoms

Dry skin can be different for everyone, since the symptoms will depend on things like your health, your age, and the cause of your dry skin. But chances are, when you have dry skin, you’ll have symptoms like: [2]

  • Dehydration- Excessively dry skin has lost a lot of moisture, so it’s noticeably dehydrated. Signs of dehydrated skin include dryness, more noticeable fine lines, and itch.
  • Flakes, rough texture- When the skin loses enough moisture, it starts to flake off. This causes the rough texture.
  • Cracks in the skin- As the skin dries out, it shrinks. This shrinking causes cracks to form. Some cracks can become deep and may bleed.
  • Itch- Some people who have excessively dry skin say their skin itches all (or most of) the time. The nearly constant itch can make it difficult to focus on everyday tasks, such as driving or getting your work done. The itch can make it difficult to fall asleep and can wake you from a sound sleep.
  • Skin feels painful, may sting or burn- Dry, and cracked or raw skin often feels painful. When something touches the already painful skin, such as water, some people say their skin burns. In a cold, dry climate, this can happen to hairdressers and others who often have wet hands while at work.
  • Wrinkled with a rough, loose texture- When skin loses a lot of moisture, it wrinkles and develops a rough texture. With age, it also becomes loose, as shown here.
  • Skin infections- Excessively dry skin has breaks in its outer layer. This allows germs to get inside, which can lead to a skin infection. Signs of an infection are:
  1. Yellow crusts on the skin
  2. An area of skin leaks pus or other fluid
  3. Swelling and discoloration
  • Peeling skin- The outer layer of our skin continually renews itself. As it does so, the body sheds dead skin cells. You usually don’t see this shedding. When the skin sheds more than the usual number of skin cells, such as when the skin becomes excessively dry, skin can peel off.
  • Raw, irritated, and painful skin- When skin becomes excessively dry, it can feel raw from the cracking and bleeding. This woman’s hands have nicks and cuts that bleed.

What can you do about dry skin? [3]

  1. Here are some ways to combat dry skin that are effective if practiced consistently:
  2. Use a humidifier in the winter. Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the skin.
  3. Limit yourself to one 5- to 10-minute bath or shower daily. If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin’s oily layer and cause it to lose moisture. Use lukewarm rather than hot water, which can wash away natural oils.
  4. Minimize your use of soaps; if necessary, choose moisturizing preparations such as Dove, Olay, and Basis, or consider soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil, Oilatum-AD, and Aquanil. Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils.
  5. To avoid damaging the skin, stay away from bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. If you don’t want to give them up altogether, be sure to use a light touch. For the same reason, pat or blot (don’t rub) the skin when toweling dry.
  6. Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or washing your hands. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp.
  7. To reduce the greasy feel of petroleum jelly and thick creams, rub a small amount into your hands and then rub it over the affected areas until neither your hands nor the affected areas feel greasy.
  8. Never, ever scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.
  9. Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners.
  10. Avoid wearing wool and other fabrics that can irritate the skin.

When to see a doctor [4]

If environmental factors or aging is not the cause of dry skin, a person may have an underlying skin condition. If a person suspects this is the case, then they should speak to a doctor.

If home remedies and store-bought moisturizers do not alleviate the symptoms of dry skin, a person may also wish to speak to a pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments.

It is important to keep skin moisturized and to treat dry skin as soon as possible. If left untreated, dry skin can lead to:

  • red patches
  • bleeding
  • bacterial infection

Redness, swelling, or pus may indicate a bacterial infection. If a person suspects their skin has become infected, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

References:-

  1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/dry-skin#2-6
  2. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/dry-skin-symptoms
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/9-ways-to-banish-dry-skin
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319555#when-to-see-a-doctor

Cranberry: Health Benefits

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Cranberries may be tangy and delicious, but don’t believe they are just a pretty plant. Cranberries are loaded with health benefits that stretch through the whole human body. cranberries due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content are often referred as Super food.

Nutritional Benefits of Cranberry:

Cranberries are rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, Fiber and Vitamin E.

Vitamin C being a powerful antioxidant blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals. It also helps in boosting immunity and building up resistance against infectious diseases. In old times sailor used to carry cranberries to avoid Scurvy.

Intake of high fibres in high amounts significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some intestinal diseases. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Vitamin E due to its antioxidant nature helps in preventing or delaying chronic diseases related to free radicals.

Apart from this, cranberries also contain Vitamin K, manganese and a large variety of phytonutrients which help prevent free radicals. They also have anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties.

Cranberry and Urinary Tract Health:

Over 50 years of research shows that cranberries are associated with reduced risk of UTIs, a painful condition that afflicts some 11 million American women each year and costs over $1.6 billion dollars annually to treat. The PACs found in cranberries inhibit the fimbrial adhesion of bacteria, including E. coli, to the urinary tract epithelium and therefore the subsequent reproduction required for infection.

Recent reports show that one 8 oz. serving of cranberry juice cocktail prevented E. coli from adhering to the bladder cells in a group of volunteers.

Cranberries and Heart Health:

Cranberries can help to support cardiovascular health and are the perfect addition to a heart-healthy diet. Whole cranberries are a good source of dietary fiber, and all cranberry products contain flavonoids and polyphenolics, natural compounds that offer a wide range of potential heart health benefits.

Cranberries contain significant amounts of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds that have been demonstrated to inhibit low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and favourably affect platelet function. On-going research suggests that cranberries may offer a natural defence against atherosclerosis.

Cranberries and Ulcers:

Similar to the ability to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract, cranberries may prevent adhesion of the bacteria H. pylori to the lining of the stomach. By preventing H. pylori bacteria from attaching to the stomach wall, cranberries can help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.

American Cancer Society, H. pylori bacteria is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. Recent research on digestive health suggests that cranberry juice can be as effective as probiotics in maintaining good digestive health.

Glycaemic Control:

Polyphenols influence starch digestion in the gut and slow the release of glucose in the bloodstream thereby reducing spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels. They can also make muscle cells more efficient in how they use blood glucose and in this way bring overall blood glucose levels closer to normal.

Benefits come in a Variety of Forms!

A natural, wholesome fruit, cranberries provide myriad health benefits and all commonly enjoyed cranberry products contain the beneficial antioxidants. Research shows that 8 oz. of 25% cranberry juice cocktail provides the amount of antioxidants equivalent to 1½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 ounce sweetened dried fruit or ½ cup cranberry sauce. Any one of these types of cranberry-based products will be a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet.

Although not usually consumed raw, cranberry intake can be marked because of its presence in juices and sauces as well as its use as a dried fruit in cereal bars, cheeses and chocolate and other confectionery. Also, cranberry powders and extracts are now used in foods products and dietary supplements.

Thus, when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet containing a variety of foods, cranberries may provide positive health benefits.

References:

  1. https://www.uscranberries.in/super-fruit/health-nutrition/
  2. https://www.cranberries.org/health-benefits
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322366922_American_Cranberries_and_Health_Benefits_-_an_Evolving_Story_of_25_years/link/5b15aaf04585151f91fb0240/download
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258524646_Cranberries_and_Their_Bioactive_Constituents_in_Human_Health/link/02e7e52a4c22f269f9000000/download
  5. https://www.cranberryinstitute.org/sites/default/files/files/document/rediscover-health-benefits-of-cranberries.pdf
  6. https://www.cranberryinstitute.org/sites/default/files/files/document/cranberry-and-human-health-research-review.pdf

Tips for Self-care

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Taking good care of yourself is paramount to the success of your recovery process. People in recovery find that their physical, spiritual, and emotional health’s are all connected, and that supporting one supports the others. Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you stay well. [1]

Self-care is a generalized term that’s recently grown in popularity. A good self-care definition is regularly doing things for yourself that make you feel good. These can be small self-care tips like picking up your favorite latte on the way to work, or something on a grander scale like booking an international vacation.
Self-care activities are critical to our mental health and emotional well-being. When you prioritize yourself, you not only ensure you are the best “you” possible, but you also reinvigorate yourself. You have more energy and joy to give in other areas of your life.

As we mentioned above, you can’t be your best for others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. [2]

What exactly is self care?

What is self care? The dictionary defines it as ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness’, which summaries the modern take on it. It also mentions that this is particularly important at periods of high stress.

Why is self care so important?

In a busy modern world, it’s important to remember to look after our base needs as humans. We need healthy food, we need to feel safe and we need to rest. It’s very easy to lose sight of these primal requirements when we’re surrounded by technology, and leading hectic lives.

Self care is often about disconnecting with the world both physically and virtually and putting your needs first.

Self care is especially important for those with stressful jobs -like social workers, nurses and teachers.

It’s also a crucial part of a preconception care. If you are a parent or mum, or hoping to become one, creating a robust self care routine is strongly advised. 

Fertility and stress are intrinsically linked, so it could also help increase your chances of conceiving.

Having a good self care routine will also help nurture your good relationships with others. [3]

Some tips for self-care: [4]            

  • Live Healthy, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid drugs and alcohol. Manage stress and go for regular medical check-ups.
  • Practice good hygiene. Good hygiene is important for social, medical, and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness, but it also improves the way others view you and how you view yourself.
  • See friends to build your sense of belonging. Consider joining a support group to make new friends.
  • Try to do something you enjoy every day. That might mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden, painting or reading.
  • Find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga, getting a massage, taking a bath or walking in the woods.
  • Strengthen Your Connections- The importance of incorporating joy, spirit, and relaxation in your life has many implications in developing resiliency (the ability to recover from an illness) and staying healthy.

The four C’s to joy, spirit, and relaxation are: connect with yourself, connect with others, connect to your community, and create joy and satisfaction. As you use these four C’s remember to continue trying to push your comfort levels and do things you may not have done before.  

  1. Connect With yourself– It is important that you check in with yourself periodically. If you do not then you may not realize that things are changing or getting out of control. Checking in with yourself allows you the opportunity to evaluate where you are in your recovery. You may find that you need to readjust what step of your action plan you are on or try different coping tools.
    1. If you have had low times in the past you understand how hard it can be to get out of those places. Learning all that you can about your mental health condition will help let you know that your hard times are not your fault. Making a list of accomplishments that you have achieved is a good resource to turn back to when you are feeling low.
    2. Another tool that may help you is to journal about your experiences. Keeping a journal is a great way to learn about you.
    3. Another method of connecting with yourself is to become an advocate and share your story.
  2. Connect with Others- spending time with positive, loving people you care about and trust can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall. They may be family members, close friends, members of a support group or a peer counselor at the local drop-in center.

Connection happens when you get:

  • Concrete help, such as having a friend pick your kids up from school;
  • Emotional support, like hearing someone say, “I’m really sorry you’re having such a tough time”;
  • Perspective, like being reminded that even the moodiest teenagers grow up;
  • Advice, such as a suggestion to plan a weekly date with your spouse;
  • Validation, like learning that other folks love reading train schedules too.

3. Connect to Your Community- A great way to feel emotionally strong and resilient in times of stress is to feel connected to a broad community. Think about the things you like to do. You can expand your social network by looking into a community organization that brings people together who shares the same interests. For instance, many communities have local biking, hiking, or walking groups. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do like learn a new language? Take a class, or join a local group.

4. Create Joy and Satisfaction- Living with a mental health condition can be taxing emotionally, physically, and mentally. Experts have found that good feelings can boost your ability to deal with stress, solve problems, think flexibly, and even fight disease. Taking care of your body emotionally, physically, and mentally through creating joy and satisfaction is an important part of living with or without a mental health condition.

Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Mind [5][6]

1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.

2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.

3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.

4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.

5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.

6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.

7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” several times throughout your day.

8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.

9. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.

10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.

11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.

12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.

13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.

14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.

15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them. 

Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Body [5][6]

1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the body scan technique to check in with each part of your body.

2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.

3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.

4. Stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.

5. Run for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.

6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.

7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.

8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked.

9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.

10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.

11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.

12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate.

13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.

14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy.

15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Soul [5][6]

1. Imagine you’re your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.

2. Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.

3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.

4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you’re feeling.

5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.

6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.

7. Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go to the park and find one.

8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.

9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a sales assistant or barista.

10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.

11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)

12. Exercise signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.

13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.

14. Ask for help big or small, but reach out.

15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you’ll be away, and then do something new in your own town.

References:-

  1. https://www.mhanational.org/taking-good-care-yourself
  2. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mental-health/self-care-tips/
  3. https://myparla.com/self-care-tips/
  4. https://www.mhanational.org/taking-good-care-yourself
  5. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/
  6. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a24886599/self-care-routine-tips/

Wonderful Cardamom Benefits!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Cardamom is known as the “Queen of Spices”. It is one of the most highly priced and exotic spices in the world. It is indigenously grown in the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in South India. It is a perennial herb and grown under mixed forest tree in Eastern Himalayas. In India, it was used as early as the 6th century BC in Ayurvedic preparations, as mentioned by Susruta (1)

Cardamom is well known as a spice used in Indian cooking, and is one of the primary constituents of Garam Masala. What many people don’t realize is that cardamom is also medicinal, and helps relieve digestive problems induced by garlic and onion, making it more than merely an aromatic addition to the stomach-challenging cuisine it accompanies. Cardamom is considered one of the most valuable spices in the world due to its rich aroma and therapeutic properties (2).

Origins

Many varieties of cardamom exist, but there are two genera which include cardamom plants. The first, known scientifically as Ellataria and commonly referred to as green or true cardamom, is found mainly in India.

Cardamom grown in Asia is part of the genus Amomum, and goes by an assortment of common names, such as brown cardamom, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Kravan, white cardamom, Siamese cardamom, and red cardamom.

Both Ellataria and Amomum are part if the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae) (2).

Cardamom has been used to relieve the following medical problems: (3), (4), (5)

  • Bad Breath

Cardamom is one of the most effective remedies against halitosis. Simply chewing on the seeds eliminates bad odours. Cardamom is even used in some chewing gums because of its effectiveness, billed as a sure fire cure to the most offensive breath.

  • Tooth, Gum, and Oral Disorders

Cardamom is widely used in South Asia to fight tooth and gum decay and disease. It can also be used to help soothe a sore throat and relieve hoarseness of voice.

  • Digestion

The volatile oil in cardamom has been proven to soothe the stomach and intestines, making cardamom an ideal solution for a host of digestive problems, such as constipation, dysentery, and indigestion. Cardamom can be used aromatically to increase or encourage appetite, and also assists in soothing gas and heartburn. Generally, cardamom relieves most upset stomachs. To use cardamom for digestive problems, consume seeds alone, serve ground seed with food, or serve as a tea.

  • Urinary problems

South Asians use cardamom’s relieving properties to help with the discomfort of passing gall and kidney stones. Cardamom, combined with banana leaf and alma juice, can act as a diuretic, soothing a variety of kidney, bladder, and urinary problems like nephritis, burning or painful urination, and frequent urges to urinate. The relief from uncomfortable symptoms provided through cardamom should not be considered a cure to underlying diseases and disorders.

  • Depression and Aromatherapy

Cardamom oils can be added to baths as a form of aromatherapy that fights depression and reduces stress. Ground cardamom seeds can be made into a tea for similar benefits.

  • Cancer Prevention

Cardamom contains IC3 (indole-3-carbinol) and DIM (diindolylmethane). These phytochemicals are well-known cancer fighters, helping to specifically ward off hormone responding cancers like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer. Early research suggests that consuming cardamom regularly may help with preventing these forms of cancer.

  • Anti-aging

In addition to these specific medicinal uses, cardamom contains an abundance of antioxidants, which protect the body against aging and stress, and fight common sicknesses and bodily strife.

Conclusion:

Often referred to as the queen of spice, cardamom is as captivating in flavour and aroma as it’s medicinal potential in number of illnesses. The fragrant smell separates cardamom from the rest of the power spices.

Along with all extensive health benefits, cardamom has been extensively used for centuries and has been proven safe to consume. Cardamom is an important factor in many traditional homeopathic medicines used by many cultures all over the world. Cardamom’s unique and delicious flavour is an easy and tasteful addition to almost any food or beverage, making it a true superfood.

References:

  1. http://www.ijpab.com/form/2014%20Volume%202,%20issue%202/IJPAB-2014-2-2-15-23.pdf
  2. https://naturalingredient.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/cardamom-benefits-_-information.pdf
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321573429_Processing_and_Medicinal_Uses_of_Cardamom_and_Ginger-A_Review
  4. https://www.thepharmajournal.com/archives/2018/vol7issue6/PartI/7-6-102-124.pdf
  5. http://theepicentre.com/spice/cardamom/

The Smelly Spice Asafoetida: Health Benefits!

By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id- vidula708@gmail.com

Asafoetida is used as a flavouring agent in food and as a traditional medicine for many diseases in many parts of the world. Asafoetida (Ferula asafoetida) is an oleo-gum-resin obtained from the stems of Ferula plants belonging to the family Umbelliferae. F. asafoetida is one of the important species of Ferula and is more native to Afghanistan and Iran that grows about 2 m in height and is in two types bitter and sweet. Asafoetida is called Hing or Hingu in India (1), (2).

Extraction Process:

Asafoetida is extracted from the Ferula plants which have massive taproots or carrot-shaped roots, around 15 cm in diameter at the crown when they are 4e5 years old. Before the plants flower, the upper part of the living rhizome root is laid bare and the stem cut off close to the crown. A dome-shaped structure made of twigs and earth covers the exposed surface. A milky juice exudes from the cut surface. The exudates are scraped off and a fresh slice of the root cut when more latex exudes, sometimes the resin is removed along with the slice. The collection of resin and slicing of the root are repeated until exudation ceases (3).

Health Benefits: (4)

  • Traditionally used for the treatment of diseases such as asthma, epilepsy, stomach-ache, flatulence, intestinal parasites, weak digestion and influenza.
  • Antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal, cancer chemopreventive, antidiabetic, antispasmodic, hypotensive, expectorant and stimulant.
  • Also been used as a sedative.
  • Thins the blood and lowers blood pressure.
  • Used in modern herbalism in the treatment of hysteria, some nervous conditions, bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough, and to reduce flora in the gut.
  • Might help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Might protect against high blood levels of certain fats.
  • Chemicals called coumarins in asafoetida can thin the blood.

Toxic Effect:

Large dose intake of asafoetida can lead to swelling of the mouth, digestive illness such as flatulence and diarrhoea, anxiety and headache. The intake of asafoetida is prohibited during the pregnancy (5).

Conclusion:

On the basis of the available evidences in the literature, asafoetida can be used as different medicines by its phytochemical and biological activities. It is also widely used all over the world as an aroma spice in different foodstuff. Traditionally it is very much utilized for the treatment of a variety of diseases.

References:

  1. https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/abm/4/6/article-p835.xml?product=sciendo
  2. Iran Herbal Pharmacopeia Edition Committee. “Iran Herbal Pharmacopeia.” (2002).
  3. https://scihub.wikicn.top/10.1021/np010541h
  4. https://www.purefoodessentials.com/assets/brochures/NSBASPG_Bag.pdf
  5. Emami A, Fasihi S, Mehregan I. Medicinal Plants. Tehran: Andisheh Avar; 2010.

Divine Hibiscus Tea: Health Benefits!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Hibiscus sabdariffa, known throughout the world for its rich, ruby-colored tea, is also known as roselle, sorrel, rosa de jamaica, and other names.

Hibiscus tea is becoming increasingly popular which largely appears to be attributed to its bioactive properties, which could benefit public health. From a historical perspective Hibiscus Tea has been used in folklore and traditional medicines. Its rich phytonutrient profile may be responsible for such reported health effects (1).

Nutritive Value: (2)

It is rich in Vitamin C, β-carotene, calcium, iron, flavonoids, polysaccharides, mucilage, Phenolic acids (esp. protocatechuic acid), organic acid (hydroxycitric acid and hibiscus acid), and anthocyanins (delphinidin-3-sambubioside and cyanidin-3- sambubioside), alkaloids, tannins, saponins, glycosides, phenols.

Health Benefits:

  • Antioxidant

Many of the health benefits of hibiscus, including its anticancer, antimicrobial, cardiovascular, digestive, and urinary tract support properties, all boil down to the fact that it is so good at fighting inflammation while nourishing and protecting the cells from oxidative and free-radical damage. One study found that supplementation with both hibiscus and green tea leaf extracts were beneficial to reduce oxidative stress in male athletes (3).

  • Cardiovascular Health

This is where both the modern research and traditional use of hibiscus really shine. Hibiscus works as a cardio-protectant (antioxidants), hypotensive (diuretic), and anti-atherosclerotic, and it can reduce LDL cholesterol. It has also been shown to reduce weight and fat accumulation, thereby reducing the stress put on the heart (4).

  • Digestive Health

The sour, astringent flavour of hibiscus is almost like that of cranberry. It is stimulating to the digestive system, especially for sluggish digestion and constipation. Its cooling properties can calm a hot and inflamed digestive system, and the combination of its astringent and mucilaginous properties help to tone and soothe the gut. It is a wonderful aid for those with chronic inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract, especially during an elimination diet, to sooth hot, irritated tissues.

This comes with the fact that hibiscus is healing to the liver and helps the body transition to a parasympathetic, or “rest and digest” state, and you have a wonderful remedy for people with gut issues related to anxiety, nervousness, or anger, and those who are overworked (5).

  • Urinary Tract Tonic

Many medications tend to create an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, which can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, nerve twitching, and sometimes heart problems. Hibiscus does not deplete electrolytes, making it a wonderful drink for those with excess fluids and hypertension.

It also works to flush the bladder and kidneys and move infections or calculi out of the urinary tract. Hibiscus almost works like cranberry juice does for UTIs, but instead of being acidic and possibly damaging the lining of the bladder, the mucilage works as a protective soothing barrier (6).

How to make Hibiscus Tea? (7)

Ingredients-

  • 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers  or 6 hibiscus tea bags
  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 cup organic honey
  • Fresh lime juice to taste, up to 1/2 cup

Procedure-

  • In a stainless pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  • Add the hibiscus and remove the pot from heat. Alternatively, set up a sun tea pitcher on the porch.
  • Stir in the honey. Let the mixture stand at least ten minutes, up to an hour.
  • Strain the infusion into a glass pitcher (careful not to use plastic, which will be permanently stained).
  • Add water and lime juice to taste. Serve over ice, with lime slices or hibiscus petals as a garnish.

References:

  1. https://www.sciforschenonline.org/journals/nutrition-food/article-data/NFTOA167/NFTOA167.pdf
  2. https://www.theherbcottage.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Hibiscus_Natural_Herbal_Living_Magazine.pdf
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27736246/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25875025/
  5. https://sci-hub.se/https://doi.org/10.1111/fcp.12220
  6. https://www.theherbcottage.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Hibiscus_Natural_Herbal_Living_Magazine.pdf
  7. http://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Arbres-Fruitiers/FICHES_ARBRES/bissap-hibiscus%20sabdariffa&cannabinus/heart-healthy-hibiscus-tea-recipe.pdf

Zucchini: Facts, Uses and Health Benefit!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Zucchini is originally from Mexico where it was domesticated 5000 years ago. Other common names of Zucchini include Summer Squash, Courgette, Crookneck Squashes and Custard Squash.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a widely cultivated summer squash in the family Cucurbitaceae which also includes melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds. It is a vigorous annual, monoecious, trailing vine which bears fruits that are widely used as culinary vegetables.

Nutritional Value in Zucchini: (1)

Zucchini is low in calories with a lot of nutrition such as carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Other vitamins present in lesser quantities include vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamine, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Given below is the amount of nutrients present in 135 gm, raw zucchini:

Calories: 17

Protein: 1.4 gm

Carbohydrate: 3.6 gm

Total Fat: 0.17 gm

Fiber: 1.5 gm

Vitamin C: 11 mg

Zucchini/ Summer Squash

Culinary usage:

  • Zucchini has a delicate flavour and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs. The skin is left in place.
  • Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded, in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes.
  • Mature (larger sized) zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.
  • Unlike cucumber, zucchini is usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés.
  • Zucchini can also be baked into a bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix similar to carrot cake. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

Fun facts about zucchini: (2)

  • Zucchini is a warm season crop. It has a short growing season compared to melons and cucumbers. Once the fruit starts to grow, it can grow one inch per day.
  • Zucchini is a summer squash. It is di­fferent from winter squash because it is harvested and eaten before it matures, so the rind is soft. It is the most common summer squash.
  • Zucchini is best when picked small (about 6-8” long).
  • Zucchini is considered a vegetable in our diet, but botanically it is the immature fruit of the plant.
  • A zucchini plant has large, dark green leaves.
  • Zucchini originated in Italy, but most squash varieties came to America from Europe.
  • The Native Americans introduced squash as one of the “Three Sisters.” The three native plants used for agriculture were corn, beans and squash.

Health Benefits:

  • Zucchini is a good source of Vitamin C. Zucchini helps to ward o­ germs and keep us healthy.
  • Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation.
  • By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fibre and water content of your food. This means that you will feel full for longer and end up eating less and you will lose some of your excess weight.
  • Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin, and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods.
  • Zucchini is a good source of health-protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and lutein; which maintain and improve eye health.
  • Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fibre and potassium. These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation.
  • Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation; which slows down aging.
  • Zucchini is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fibre, electrolytes, and other nutrients that are necessary for better digestion.

Conclusion:

For all these interesting health benefits; we must include Zucchini in our daily diet.

References:

  1. http://www.richfieldmn.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=7100
  2. https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/94/School%20Grant%20Program/Year%202%20Lessons%20Revised/FINAL%20combined%202-3%20Zucchini%20Sept%20reduced%20size.pdf

Wheat grass and Health

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

Wheat Grass is nature’s finest medicine. Many Herbal practitioners prefer intake of Wheatgrass powder or juice because of its many basic components and trace elements with immense healing capacity. It is a powerful concentrated liquid nutrient having immense benefits.

Nutritional Value of Wheat grass:

wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll, minerals like magnesium, selenium, zinc, chromium, antioxidants like beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), vitamin E, vitamin C, Vitamin K- which is a blood-clotting agent, anti-anaemic factors like vitamin B12, iron, folic acid, pyridoxine and many other minerals, amino acids and enzymes, which have significant nutritious and medicinal value (1).

Different varieties of wheatgrass extracts are therapeutically used in treatment of anaemia, thalassemia (major), cancer and bacterial diseases (1).

Health Benefits of Wheat grass: (2), (3), (4)

  • Chlorophyll as green blood

Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll and enzymes. It contains more than 70% chlorophyll (which is an important dietary constituent). The chlorophyll molecule in wheatgrass is almost identical to the haemoglobin in human blood. The only difference is that the central element in chlorophyll is magnesium and in haemoglobin it is iron. The molecular structure of chlorophyll in wheatgrass and haemoglobin in the human body is similar, and because of this wheatgrass is called ‘Green Blood.

A 70-83% increase in red blood cells and haemoglobin concentration was noted within 10-16 days of regular administration of chlorophyll derivatives.

Chlorophyll present in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens; it strengthens the cells, detoxifies the liver and blood stream, and chemically neutralizes the polluting elements.

  • Cancer Preventive

Wheat grass extract, which contains chlorophyll, an antioxidant, may affect cancer prevention. Additionally, selenium and lactrile present in wheatgrass have anti-cancer properties. Selenium builds a strong immune system, and can decrease the risk of cancer. Wheatgrass contains at least 13 vitamins (several of which are antioxidants) including B12, abscisic acid, superoxide dismutase (SOD), cytochrome oxidase, and mucopolysaccharide.

  • Anti-diabetic agent

Supplementing its intake through wheatgrass powder has shown good improvement in resolving Diabetes condition. Abundance of natural fiber in wheatgrass optimizes blood sugar levels. Instrumental characterization of wheatgrass (spray dried powder of juice) confirmed the presence of chlorophyll, which is believed to be the pharmacologically active component in wheatgrass, acting as an anti-diabetic agent.

  • Anti-inflammatory

Its anti-inflammatory properties exert a positive effect on bone and joint problems, reducing pain and swelling.

Chlorophyllin has bacteriostatic properties that aids in wound healing. It has been used to treat various kinds of skin lesions, burns, and ulcers, where it acts as a wound-healing agent, stimulating granulation tissue and epithelialization.

  • For general well being

Wheatgrass loaded with vitamins A, C, and E acts as an anti-oxidant and retards ageing of cells in the body that causes brain and heart problems.

Wheatgrass is an effective tonic, skin allergies, greying or hair loss, weakness, kidney stones, weak eyesight, pyorrhoea, or dental infections and fatigue.

It is also super effective in serious cases of heart disease, acute stomach ache, infection of digestive system, gas, paralysis, asthma, constipation.

It restores fertility and promotes youthfulness because the high magnesium content in chlorophyll builds enzymes that restore sex hormones.

How to Use Wheat grass? (5)

  • Normal person should drink one FL oz. (thirty ml) fresh wheat grass juice twice a day or take three gram wheat grass powder in a glass of water, twice a day. A little honey may be added to juice to enhance taste.
  • Else you can chew approx. fifty gram fresh wheat grass.
  • Do not take any food half an hour before and after taking wheat grass.
  • Wheat grass powder may also be added to regular food as children sometimes may avoid taking it.
  • You can mix with any other juice, except citrus juices. It is advisable to take wheat grass empty stomach in the morning.
  • In case of health problems quantity of wheat grass may vary according to the severity of the problem.
  • Please do not discontinue or reduce dose of your regular medicines, if any, without consultation with your doctor.

Where do you get wheatgrass?

  • If you have space and want to nurture a hobby of gardening, you can grow wheat grass in your backyard or in kitchen garden too.
  • It takes only seven days for the seeds to germinate and grow to an extent ready to be consumed.
  • Else, buy wheatgrass powder from a reputed naturopathy retailer or Ayurveda shop.

Conclusion:

Widespread data from a number of studies has made known the multitude effects of Wheatgrass is known to help diminish fatigue, improve sleep, increase strength, naturally regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, support weight loss, improve digestion and elimination, support healthy skin, teeth, eyes, muscles and joints, improve the function of our heart-lungs and reproductive organs, heal ulcers and skin sores, slow cellular aging, improve mental function, and is beneficial in arthritis and muscle cramping, thalassemia, haemolytic anaemia, cancer, asthma, allergy, inflammatory bowel disease and detoxification.

Thus, it should be made part of daily dietary intake in order to explore its utmost benefits.

References:

  1. https://www.chemijournal.com/vol2issue4/dec2014/2-3-9.1.pdf
  2. https://www.bibliomed.org/mnsfulltext/196/196-1569002946.pdf?1605679167
  3. http://medcraveonline.com/IJCAM/IJCAM-03-00092.pdf
  4. https://www.functionalfoodscenter.net/files/47516971.pdf
  5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0586/e084480f26d3b2457d0daf5128914e518eca.pdf?_ga=2.239284996.647303048.1605682750-572892539.1605682750

Nutrition Tips for Breast-feeding Moms

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

It isn’t always easy to get all the nutrition that you need. When you’re a mom, whether you have a newborn or toddler, you’re busy and tired. Plus, if you don’t have much help, it can be tough to take care of all you have to do in a day. The thought of cooking healthy meals and taking care of yourself can easily fall by the wayside. It’s understandable. But taking care of yourself is important.

If you skip meals or don’t eat well, you’re likely to become more exhausted, lose excessive amounts of weight, and not feel well at all. But, if you do take the time to eat well and care for yourself, you’ll feel healthier and stronger. That’s better for you and your baby. So, here are some healthy eating tips for breastfeeding moms.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Try to maintain a well-balanced diet. If you can, eat at least three full meals along with a variety of healthy foods and snacks each day. You may find that eating six smaller meals works better for you.

Try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains while limiting empty calorie snacks. Keep healthy snacks, fruit, and already cut-up veggies readily available, so you’ll be more likely to grab them as a snack instead of a cookie or a bag of chips.

Add Fish to Your Diet

Add some fish to your weekly meal plans. If you enjoy eating fish, seafood is a healthy source of protein that also provides you with essential omega-3 fatty acids. You can safely enjoy different types of low-mercury seafood such as salmon, light canned tuna, catfish, tilapia, cod, shrimp, crab, squid, and clams two to three times a week.

Get Enough Calories

Get enough calories each day. Breastfeeding and making breast milk uses up a lot of energy. So, while you’re breastfeeding, you should take in about 500 extra calories a day. Now, what kind of calories are we talking about here?

Junk food has lots of calories, but those calories aren’t nutritious. So that’s not the kind you need. You can still have some junk food once in a while, but try to get most of your extra calories through healthier meals and snacks.

Eat Milk-Making Foods

Eat some milk-making foods. Many of the healthy foods and snacks that you can choose during the day also promote a healthy supply of breast milk. Oatmeal, chickpeas (hummus), dark green vegetables, and almonds all have properties that support milk production while being an excellent addition to your healthy breastfeeding diet.

Limit Some Foods

Consider any history of allergies in your family and Limit certain foods and substances. If there is a strong history of food allergies, eczema, or asthma in your family, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. There may be some food items such as dairy products, peanuts, or shellfish that you should put off eating to prevent diarrhea, colic-like symptoms, rashes, and allergic reactions in your baby.

Stay Hydrated

Breast milk is made mostly of water. And, breastfeeding—specifically the let-down reflex—can make you feel thirsty. So, you need to drink plenty of fluids. Drink enough to quench your thirst and try to get in at least eight glasses of water or other healthy beverages every day. A good rule of thumb is to have a drink of water each time you breastfeed your baby.

That should be about 8 to 12 times a day, so you’re sure to be covered. If you don’t take in enough fluids, it can lead to dehydration and constipation. It also can cause a decrease in your breast milk supply.

Take Your Vitamins

While a healthy breastfeeding diet contains all the vitamins and nutrients that you need, you can still continue to take your prenatal vitamin. However, you should keep in mind that vitamins cannot replace a healthy diet, they can only add to it.

On the other hand, vitamins may be necessary if you have a vitamin deficiency, you’re breastfeeding on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or you’ve had weight loss surgery. Your doctor will let you know which additional vitamins you should be taking.

Be Careful With Diets

Be careful with dieting. If you’re worried about losing weight after the birth of your child, you’re not alone. It’s a common concern among mothers. However, you shouldn’t start a diet program too soon if you’re breastfeeding. It’s not healthy to go on a strict calorie-reducing diet or to take diet pills and weight loss herbs while you’re breastfeeding. Doing so can be harmful to you and your baby.

But, once your body heals from childbirth and your breast milk supply is established, your doctor may recommend a healthy diet and exercise program to help you get to your target weight. Of course, you need to be reasonable and remember that it took you nine months to get to where you are now, so be sure to give yourself at least that long to get back to where you want to be.

You don’t have to be on a strict diet if you’re breastfeeding. You can pretty much eat whatever you want, including spicy foods, chocolate, and garlic. You can even eat junk food and have your morning coffee. The main thing to remember is not to go overboard. Eat all you want of the healthy foods, but eat the treats and the not-so-healthy foods in moderation.

Reference

Emotional Eating

Nutrition Expert: Saba Shaikh, Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai

  • Emotional eating is responding to feelings such as stress by eating high-carbohydrate, high-calorie foods with low nutritional value.
  • The quantity of food that is consumed is the primary difference between emotional eating and binge eating.
  • Like most emotional symptoms, emotional eating is thought to result from a number of factors rather than a single cause.
  • There are a number of potential warning signs for emotional eating, or stress-eating.
  • Health professionals assess emotional eating by screening for physical and mental health issues.
  • Overcoming emotional eating involves teaching the individual healthier ways to view food and develop better eating habits (such as mindful eating), recognize their triggers for engaging in this behaviour, and develop other more appropriate ways to prevent and alleviate stress.
  • When untreated, emotional overeating can cause obesity, problems with weight loss, and even lead to food addiction.
  • Reducing stress, using food as sustenance rather than as a way to solve problems, and using constructive ways to handle emotions can help to prevent emotional eating. (1)

What is emotional eating?

We don’t always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves. And when we do, we tend to reach for junk food, sweets, and other comforting but unhealthy foods. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work.

Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better to fill emotional needs, rather than your stomach. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. In fact, it usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating.

Are you an emotional eater?

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

The emotional eating cycle

Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower.

Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings. But no matter how powerless you feel over food and your feelings, it is possible to make a positive change. You can learn healthier ways to deal with your emotions, avoid triggers, conquer cravings, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.

The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger

Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful, so it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for to help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.

Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.

Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.

Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.

Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.

Identify your emotional eating triggers

The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, but it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress. Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foods, foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.

Stuffing emotions: Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions you’d rather not feel.

Boredom or feelings of emptiness: Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.

Childhood habits: Think back to your childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward good behaviour with ice cream, take you out for pizza when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? These habits can often carry over into adulthood. Or your eating may be driven by nostalgia—for cherished memories of grilling burgers in the backyard with your dad or baking and eating cookies with your mom.

Social influences: Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.

Keep An Emotional Eating Diary

You probably recognized yourself in at least a few of the previous descriptions. But even so, you’ll want to get even more specific. One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your emotional eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary.

Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked off the emotional eating cycle. Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward.  

Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge. Maybe you always end up gorging yourself after spending time with a critical friend. Or perhaps you stress eat whenever you’re on a deadline or when you attend family functions. Once you identify your emotional eating triggers, the next step is identifying healthier ways to feed your feelings.

Find other ways to feed your feelings

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, you won’t be able to control your eating habits for very long. Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice which only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when emotions hijack the process, demanding an immediate payoff with food.

In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to fulfil yourself emotionally. It’s not enough to understand the cycle of emotional eating or even to understand your triggers, although that’s a huge first step. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfilment.

Alternatives to emotional eating

If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favourite photo or cherished memento.

If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favourite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.

If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.

If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).

Pause when cravings hit and check in with yourself

Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because you’ve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isn’t up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.

Learn to accept your feelings—even the bad ones

While it may seem that the core problem is that you’re powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You don’t feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food.

Allowing you to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandora ’s Box, once you open the door you won’t be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we don’t obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention.

To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating.

Indulge without overeating by savouring your food

When you eat to feed your feelings, you tend to do so quickly, mindlessly consuming food on autopilot. You eat so fast you miss out on the different tastes and textures of your food—as well as your body’s cues that you’re full and no longer hungry. But by slowing down and savouring every bite, you’ll not only enjoy your food more but you’ll also be less likely to overeat.

Slowing down and savouring your food is an important aspect of mindful eating, the opposite of mindless, emotional eating. Try taking a few deep breaths before starting your food, putting your utensils down between bites, and really focusing on the experience of eating. Pay attention to the textures, shapes, colours and smells of your food. How does each mouthful taste? How does it make your body feel?

By slowing down in this way, you’ll find you appreciate each bite of food much more. You can even indulge in your favourite foods and feel full on much less. It takes time for the body’s fullness signal to reach your brain, so taking a few moments to consider how you feel after each bite—hungry or satiated—can help you avoid overeating.  

Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits

When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.

  • Make daily exercise a priority. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. And getting into the exercise habit is easier than you may think.
  • Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. When you don’t get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings.
  • Make time for relaxation. Give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes every day to relax, decompress, and unwind. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
  • Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.

Reference:

  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/stress/article.htm
  2. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/emotional-eating.htm