Big challenges are best tackled in bits. Nutritionist Kavita Devgan distils the wisdom she offers in her new book with a 20-point guide to equip you with tricks to keep the flab in check
01. Never go grocery-shopping if you’re hungry! There is nothing worse than standing in the chocolate aisle with a growling stomach; in fact, this is a sure shot recipe to grab and eat foods that are high in fat and sugar — read fattening!
02. Curl up and take that nap (however small) now. Don’t feel guilty — it’s for your waist’s sake. Shortened sleep, science says, increases our appetites by messing up our hormones. So put your sleep cycle in order if you want your weight to budge.
03. Close your eyes and meditate. Take out just 10 minutes every day for yourself, to sit and reflect, and quieten your negativity. It’ll help cut cravings and pause comfort eating — two common causes of love handles.
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04. Cut TV viewing to size. This is one of the best ways to avoid overeating and under exercising. Studies show that the more TV you watch, the less you move (and the more you weigh). And if soap operas are your nightly dinner companion, you’re probably eating more too, mindlessly so move the TV outside your dining room.
05. Dump sugar saturated drinks; you can create a full fledged, satisfying meal for the amount of calories some of them deliver. Yes, you can actually eat a sandwich, fruit, string cheese and whole grain crackers or baked chips for the same amount of calories. It’s easy to figure out what’s better for you.
06. Put your gut in order. Zero in on one fermented food (yoghurt, kimchi, sour bread, pickles, dhokla) every day, and also ensure a daily dose of a good probiotic milk. Straighten up the ratio of good bacteria to bad to lose weight and keep fatigue away too.
07. Choose the people around you very carefully. Deliberately surround yourself by people who eat healthy; identify that one (or two) person from your coterie of family and friends who you can count on to boost your morale, and steer you towards exercise and ‘right eating’. And then touch base with them, every day.
08. Watch out when you eat a salad lunch. Don’t spoil it by drowning your lettuce in oil laden salad dressings. Instead order your dressing on the side, dip your fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You’ll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you’ll use.
09. Set your table for portion control. Use tall, skinny glasses for juice, use salad plates to serve the main course (hide those big dinner plates), keep a big salad bowl at the table full to brim, so that if you do decide to have seconds, you automatically reach out for light and filling veggies, not calorie-dense meats or bread.
10. Don’t skip breakfast before stepping out. The more you eat earlier on in the day, the less you eat as the day wraps up. And keep it balanced with a little fat and good amount of protein and carbohydrate. This will keep you safe from a pre-lunch craving for a sinful treat.
11. Eat three to four servings of a fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, each week. Regular fish eaters tend to have lower levels of the hormone leptin in their body; high levels of leptin have been linked to low metabolism and obesity.
12. Take a three-minute break every hour. Breathe in deep and hold your tummy for a few seconds. Aim for 10 to 15 squeezes per break. You’ll see your middle getting tones soon enough. You can also do this when stuck at a red light, or in a traffic jam, during ad breaks in your fave programme on TV; in fact, whenever you remember!
13. Say no to cocktails and even mocktails. They pack huge caloric punches. The giggest offenders are creamy cocktails — these are almost equivalent to drinking a rich dessert. The bottom line: If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with water or nimbu pani.
14. Do the napkin pat before wolfing down anything greasy. Blot your food with a napkin to cut anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of grease and calories from pizzas, samosas, fries, pakoras and the like.
15. Laugh as much as you can and at every opportunity. Having a good giggle works all the muscles in your stomach, and who doesn’t need toning up there.
16. Always grab a water bottle when stepping out of home. There are just too many high calories beverages around — it helps to have an alternative always handy. Plus people often mistake thirst for hunger, so the next time you feel like noshing, reach for the water first.
17. A pear for dessert? Yes. Levulose, the sweetest of all known sugars is found much more in pears as compared to other fruits, making it deliciously sweet, and the fibre in it satisfies. A win-win!
18. Get some sun every day if you wish to suppress your appetite, prevent mood eating and related mindless munching. Sunlight boosts production of mood-boosting serotonin in the body that helps cut mood eating.
19. Munch on a handful of nuts (for eg: 6 walnuts, or 8-10 almonds or 15 peanuts) when feeling grubby mid meals. In 20 minutes, this will kill your craving and dampen your appetite.
20. Sprinkle high-fibre seeds on your cereal. It will help curb your appetite. Add to yoghurt and cake mixes too. Why? Because fibre aids digestion and makes you feel fuller for longer.
Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, health columnist and author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People