Food for thought

Do you know that:
*The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue?
• When you sneeze, your heart stops for a millisecond?
• Or, when you sneeze really hard, you can cause a blood vessel in your head or neck to burst?
• That the human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps to squirt blood 30 feet away?
• That wearing head phones will increase bacteria in your ears by 700 times?

Perhaps you’d like to check them out before sharing them with friends.

By Carol Aloysius
My GP gave yours truly some useful tips on how to overcome one of this country’s biggest Health problems: OBESITY. Considering that Sri Lankans seem to be getting wider and fuller around the waist and tummy, notwithstanding soaring living costs, (I just read in the newspaper that 15 % of our children are Obese and heading for Diabetes, among other serious health problems), his tips could not have come at a better time.
Taking his advice to heart, I have since started on this great diet of eating 100% local foods that are low in calories and high in fibre and protein, and cheaper than eating imported foods that are costly and often outdated. Foods such as soya meat, mounds of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meat, skinless chicken and fish for a start. Instead of bread, local grains such as cow pea, kadale or even porridge made of finely ground local grain mixed with gotukola , and kola kende make up our breakfasts. Butter is out. So are soft drinks and desserts (except for fruits).
Getting the family to fall in line with this radical turn around in our eating habits was not easy. But combined with simple exercises such as walking, cycling, running, skipping, swimming regularly, our new diet has paid off. We feel healthier- and lighter.
Browsing through my library the other day, I came across these interesting ‘facts’ about our own bodies.

My friend gave me this recipe for a savoury cabbage dish, when she learnt that I was trying to lose weight. It’s inxespensive, easy to make and good for the health.
You need: 2 or more onions thinly sliced; 1-2 tbs butter or olive oil; 1 tsp turmeric; several whole cardamoms and cloves, 2-3 finely chopped garlic .
Shred the cabbage fine, sauté onions in butter or olive oil with garlic and spices for about 8 mts, then add the cabbage and stir till tender. Add salt to taste.
Cabbage contains plenty of essential vitamins such as Vit. C, K, A, calcium, manganese, potassium,iron, phosphorous, fibre , folate with omega-3 fatty acids. It is a good protection for free radicals and ideal for those wanting to lose weight, as it has low calories. Also helps treat peptic ulcers.

The rat race to do ‘better than the best’ is on- and kids everywhere are having a hard time meeting this high goal. The result: Stress – and its host of attendant problems.
To help de-stress kids, a school psychologist has listed out the following questions a child should ask himself, when he/she feels stressed out:
What has caused such stress? Is it teacher induced or work induced? Is it peer pressure? Does it get worse, when an exam is near? Or, because there’s too much homework? Do your parents have high expectations of you? Are you a victim of bullying or sexual harassment in school?
My GP told me the other day, “Getting rid of stress is like learning to lift weights correctly. If you prepare yourself to handle it in advance, it can be managed successfully.”


Dum Biriyani at Trans Asia Hotel

Indian cuisine is a riot of colours, flavours and spices, and every Indian state has its own unique culture-embedded taste bud. Saffron Restaurant at Trans Asia Hotel experiments this electric cuisine in a fare of Dum Biriyani this entire month!

Dum cooking, to those not acquainted with the term, implies a very slow cooking process, in which, the ingredients cook in their own juices and steam.

Saffron Restaurant offers eight remarkable varieties of Dum Biriyani for lunch as well as for dinner, and the tang promises a revisit for sure! Chicken biriyani served with mixed raita, mutton biriyani with mint sauce, mixed seafood biriyani with raita, prawn biriyani with curd, mutton biriyani with mixed raita, vegetable biriyani with mint sauce, green peas biriyani with curd, and last, but not the least, fresh button mushroom biriyani with mixed raita makes up the amazing variety.

Vegetarian biriyani is priced at Rs 600 + taxes per portion and non-vegetarian biriyani is priced at Rs 700 + taxes per portion.
If you are up for a famous “Hyderabadi” delight, do stop over and re-stop over!


Meal planning made simple

He’s too heavy and she’s too lean, but it doesn’t take separate meals to meet everyone’s nutritional needs

By Keecha Harris, Dr. P.H., R.D., for MSN Health and Fitness
Q: We just got one of those new scales that tells body-fat percentage. My husband and I are opposites. He has too much fat and I am underfat. How do I plan a family menu to help both of us?
Scales that report your body fat are good triggers for thinking about your overall wellness. They can signal it may be time to make changes for your health and well being. However, your scale readings do not translate into markedly different nutrient needs for you and your husband, beyond a few gender-specific dietary guidelines. Your differences in body fat don’t mean you need vastly different food options for meals and snacks.

I don’t have a way of knowing how to interpret your husband’s body fat without the actual percentage. But here are ways you can assess his body weight. First, does his weight tend to concentrate around his waist? If he has an apple body shape, he is at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Second, if his waist measures greater than 40 inches, he is at increased risk for these conditions as well. Also measure the circumference his waist at the top of his hip bone and divide it by the circumference of his hips at the broadest point. If the ratio is greater than 0.95, you need to be concerned.

Your husband’s high proportion of body fat suggests that he probably needs to exercise more, decrease his portion sizes and increase his intake of more filling foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. He should also eat lean cuts of meat and decrease “hidden calories” that come from sauces, spreads and beverages including alcohol, fruit drinks and regular soft drinks. Snacking may also be an area where he could cut back on extra calories.

Regardless of your body fat, you can likely benefit from the same. Approaching each meal as an opportunity to explore a vast array of colours and flavours is good for everyone (barring allergies and some health conditions). At the same time, as a woman, your body has some special needs. Iron is one of them. Food likes meat, poultry, beans, enriched grains and fortified cereals are excellent sources of iron. In your reproductive years, you need more iron than your husband to account for blood losses during menstruation. The recommended dietary allowance for women age 19 to 50 is 18 milligrams per day. If you are pregnant, the recommendation increases to 27 milligrams. If you have gone through menopause, your needs are equal to your husband’s—8 milligrams.

Also, menopause increases your need for calcium due to changes in hormones that regulate bone health. If you are not taking estrogen, you will require more calcium— 1,500 milligrams each day. If you are taking estrogen, you will need the same amount as non-menopausal women—1,000 milligrams. Foods like milk, cheese, yogurt and sardines with the bone in are excellent sources of calcium.

So, what does this mean in terms of meal planning? Well, you need to go a step further to find out what each of your specific needs are. The body fat readings on the scale don’t tell you enough. Since one size doesn’t fit all, www.MyPyramid.gov is an easy way to determine what real differences exist in your nutrition needs from your husband’s.

Go to MyPyramid and enter your activity level, age and gender on the first page; do the same for your husband. You’ll get detailed information on how much from each food group you both need every day. As for meal planning, two separate meals aren’t necessary. You should prepare meals to include a variety of foods from each group, with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Include lean meats and low-fat dairy as well. Be sure to include favourites that you and your husband both enjoy. Each of you should choose portion sizes of these foods that meet your needs. Remember that a lower proportion of body fat doesn’t mean you get carte blanc to eat whatever you’d like. And your husband’s higher level of body fat doesn’t signal the end to occasional desserts for him. However, you both should learn to enjoy fruit more often as an after-dinner refresher.
Still need guidance on meal planning? Meet with a registered dietitian. She or he will be able to help you come up with specific menu plans to fit your nutritional needs, appetite and budget.