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If you are someone looking for a nutritionist’s guidance and find yourself encountering terms you don’t understand, you have come to the right place.

 

The nutritionist might tell you many things in Greek and Latin and you might be confused. It is true that some of our clients feel the same way when we suggest they take supplements to combat deficiencies. When we explain to them that they aren’t allergic but intolerant, they seem to get a tad confused. It is also possible that some people have a misconception about processed foods. 

 

By understanding the most commonly used terminologies and their differences, you will be better able to understand what you eat and what your nutritionist recommends.

 

  • NUTRIENT VS FOOD 

 

Most of us confuse the terms nutrient and nutrition. The term nutrition encompasses the term nutrient. 

 

Nutrients – are substances that are required for the nourishment of organisms while 

Nutrition –  is the entire process by which organisms obtain energy and nutrients from food.

 

We might also think food and nutrients are the same.

 

Food is the source of energy that helps our body to function properly and stay alive.

 

Nutrients are a part of food, which are used and metabolized by our body cells to provide energy.

 

Example: Fruit is your food and the vitamins and minerals in it are the nutrients.

 

Recipe – Smoothie is the food, the carbs, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat we get from the ingredients are the nutrients.


  •  ALLERGY VS INTOLERANCE

 

It is possible to experience adverse reactions after eating certain foods. 

 

These reactions can be categorized as immunologic (allergic) and non-immunologic (intolerance).

 

Many people mistake food intolerance for allergy as one of its symptoms is allergy-like reactions.

 

  Allergy: 

  • Allergies occur when the body’s immune system responds or overreacts to a particular type of protein. 
  • This protein is usually from foods, pollens, house dust, animal hair, or moulds and they are called allergens. 
  • During allergy, our body produces antibodies to defend substances that are usually harmless.

 

Intolerance:

 

Food intolerances arise if the body is unable to digest a certain food. This impairment may be due to a lack of digestive enzymes or a sensitivity to certain chemicals.

 

Food intolerance refers to the body’s inability to digest certain chemicals in food due to lack of enzymes or sensitivity to the chemical.

 

  • These are chemical reactions that occur that are not immune responses.
  • This often happens when we can’t properly digest particular food or its components. 
  • Food intolerances are uniquely individualized. 

 

Food allergy is more severe and fatal than food intolerances.

 

Example for allergy: Peanut allergy or shellfish allergy – A person who is allergic to peanut or shellfish, and eats one of these could even die without medical assistance. 

Symptoms: can start with rashes, hives, and itching and can develop into fatal symptoms like dilation of blood vessels, drop in blood pressure, etc. 

 

Example of food intolerance: It mostly occurs from enzyme deficiency. 

Many people can be lactose intolerant – they won’t have the enzyme lactase which is necessary to digest lactose, the main sugar in milk.

Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, etc. 


  • PROCESSED VS ULTRA-PROCESSED

 

The newest trend buzzing around among people is “saying NO to processed food”.

But one must understand that food does not make it from the farm to the fork unprocessed.

Even the fruits that we eat require some processing before they reach our plates. 

Choosing minimally processed foods is probably a better option than ultra-processed foods.

 

Processing:  Processing is anything that alters the fundamental nature of agricultural produce, such as freezing, dicing, drying, etc.

  • The nutrients in these foods will still be intact. 

Example: The milk we drink daily requires processing such as pasteurization to extend its shelf life. 

 

Ultra processing: A technique that converts agricultural produce into an entirely different form is known as ultra processing. 

 

Highly processed foods, also known as ultra-processed foods, are relatively cheap, convenient, and tasty but contain a lot of refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and salt. 

  • They could also be referred to as hyper-palatable foods. 

Example: Potato chips, bread, soft drinks, etc.

 

  • SUPPLEMENTS VS MEDICINE

 

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: A dietary supplement is a vitamin, mineral, herb, or nutrient that a person takes to treat or combat nutritional deficiencies, improve their overall well-being, or improve their overall wellness.

Dietary supplement labels may make certain health-related claims, but they are not intended to treat or cure any specific disease. Dietary supplements are generally safe to consume and cause no adverse reactions. 

 

MEDICINE: This is a preparation or substance used to treat a particular disease and ease symptoms. Several chemicals are mixed together in laboratories to produce medicines.

 

For example, fish oil that we consume to lower the cholesterol level is a supplement and the fever medication that we get only with a doctor’s prescription is medicine.

 

  • COD LIVER OIL VS FISH OIL 

 

COD LIVER OIL – as the name suggests, it’s derived from codfish livers.

The oils in these fish tend to build up in the liver, and they also contain high levels of vitamins A and D.

 

FISH OIL – Fish oil comes from the flesh of fatty fishes such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon. 

This results in higher concentrations of EPA and DHA.

Fish oil doesn’t contain Vitamin A or D.

 

However, cod liver oil often contains a lower concentration of omega 3’s when compared to omega 3 fish oil.


 

  •  SATURATED FAT VS TRANS FAT

 

SATURATED FATS: Saturated fat is solid at room temperature due to its chemical structure. 

Foods high in saturated fats tend to be high in cholesterol, hence consuming foods rich in saturated fats tends to cause more diseases. 

It has also been found that foods containing saturated fats are highly processed and contain more sugar and sodium which might have an effect on our body. 

Therefore, saturated fats should always be balanced with other types of fats such as MUFA and PUFA.

 

Example: butter, cream, cheese, coconut, etc.

 

TRANS FAT: Trans fat comes from industrial fat processing where saturated or unsaturated fats are processed by adding hydrogen ions to them. 

Trans fats are also solid at room temperature. 

The process of adding hydrogen ions is known as hydrogenation and they extend the shelf life of the product.

 

Example: margarine, shortenings, etc.

 

When we talk about nutrition, we often hear the following statements. We even hear some of these statements every day. But how true are they?

 

In this article, we will debunk 6 such statements:

 

  1. FLAX SEEDS ARE THE RICHEST SOURCE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS. 

 

Our common perception is that flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

 

But in reality, they are a rich source of fiber, but not the best source of omega-3.

The omega-3 fatty acid found in flax seeds is ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), which our bodies cannot convert to EPA/DHA.

 

Therefore, the most ideal choice is to consume EPA/DHA-containing foods such as fatty fish, salmon, tuna, etc.

 

  1. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS A GLUTEN-FREE DIET

 

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, maida, and rye which is responsible for the elasticity of these flours. 

 

So, WHO NEEDS A GLUTEN-FREE DIET? 

 

Individuals with celiac disease or individuals with gluten sensitivity or those who can’t tolerate even small amounts of the protein gluten should go gluten-free. 

 

If you are not gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, eliminating gluten from your diet can cause nutritional deficiencies. 

 

  1. EGGS ARE HEALTHY AND GOOD FOR CHOLESTEROL

 

Eggs are an economical and easily available source of high-quality protein which is a key source of many essential nutrients. 

 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced majorly in our body, forms an important part of our cells and is very important for the proper functioning of our body. 

While cholesterol is important for body functions, high amounts can lead to heart problems. 

But however not all cholesterol is bad, the cholesterol that comes from the foods you eat has a minimal impact because the body naturally regulates the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the blood.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN AN EGG?

 

For many years now, we all have been thinking that egg yolk is full of saturated fat. But, the truth is that the major fat portion in eggs comes from MUFA and PUFA. 

Saturated fats when consumed along with MUFA and PUFA don’t show to have much effect on cholesterol.  

Also, if you are still not convinced and are skeptical about consuming whole eggs daily, remember that consuming saturated fats along with lots of ultra-processed foods/refined carbohydrates is unhealthy. 

Instead include eggs as a part of your healthy diet along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

 

  1. LATE-NIGHT EATING WILL MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT.

 

Many people think eating late at night will make them fat but the truth is it doesn’t. 

According to science, a calorie is a calorie taken regardless of the time. 

What causes weight gain is the type of food you eat and the number of calories you eat. 

Most studies suggest that nighttime eaters mostly make poor choices of food. 

Studies show that most people who eat late at night binge eat to keep them awake, for this they rely on hyper-palatable foods that are high in sugar and fats that have low satiety value and make them eat more. 

The second most important point is that the calories that go in from the hyper-palatable foods must be burned out, if not definitely it will make them gain weight. 

VERDICT – Eating late at night is not bad but the type of food we eat matters the most and the calories we eat must be within the limits. 

 

  1. IS IT OKAY TO SKIP YOUR BREAKFAST?

 

For most of our lives, breakfast has often been dubbed “BREAKING THE FAST” and is considered one of the most important meals of the day.

 

They say skipping breakfast might lead you to overeat later in the day.

 

But, this is not true.

 

Also, it may not cause you to eat less either. It definitely depends on the individual. 

 

If you are taking appropriate amounts of calories and nutrients throughout the day, skipping breakfast won’t make much difference. 

 

  1. A DETOX DIET IS IMPORTANT

 

A detox diet – is a more popular diet trend that claims to detox/ clean our body and eliminates harmful toxins from our body. 

A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting followed by a diet that includes only fruits, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes it might also include herbs, teas, and enema. 

 

THE TRUTH – our body doesn’t need any detox program or diet, it’s naturally designed to detox itself. Our organs such as the liver, kidney, and lungs are detoxification machines that are naturally designed to get rid of the toxins from our body. 

That means maintaining a healthy diet is important in order to maintain the proper functioning of these organs. 

 

THE CON – The detox diets can also be dangerous since they include only a particular type of food group and avoid most of them and can cause nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, and other problems.

 

Covid 19 has shown us that food plays an important role in preventing and recovering from illness. It has also set the trend to move toward healthy sustainable food choices which can be achieved by 

 

  • Checking the traceability system – (FSSAI Lic No, Batch code, etc.)

First comes the traceability technique. This is the main contributor to ensuring food safety throughout the food chain by providing an idea of food spoilage through aroma, flavor, texture, and nutrition during food production. It makes it easier to track the origin of certain foods.

 

  • Opting for seasonal and local fruits and vegetables

Seasonal and locally available fruits and vegetables that are naturally ripened in the sun will taste better and be fresher. They also have the highest nutritional value because we consume them close to the harvesting period, making them safe for consumption.

 

  • Harvesting your own produce

It would be safe and healthy if you harvested your own produce – fruits, and vegetables on the terrace.

 

  • Choosing home food over restaurant/processed foods

Move from restaurant to home-cooked foods because restaurants stock the food for longer periods of time, causing the food to spoil and become contaminated. 

 

Planning your own menu helps you save time, money, and health. But we often stop ourselves because of these FIVE myths. Let’s debunk each of these myths and create a healthy meal plan

 

  1. MYTH: Meal plans are complicated and take hours to create

Taking the first step isn’t always easy! Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

Instead of planning a rigidly structured plan, create a loose map to follow with just enough structure to guide you. This is the key to creating a stress-free weekly meal map organized around meal types.

 

  1. MYTH: You must plan seven meals each week

What’s well begun is half done. You don’t have to plan for a whole week. Two or three is a great number to start with. 

 

In the beginning, experiment by planning two to three meals per week and plan the rest as it gets easy.

 

  1. MYTH: Low-fat means healthy

 Low-fat products might make you feel guilt-free, but they are less healthy choices as they contain a lot of other ingredients (additives, preservatives, etc.).

 

Before they go into your cart, check the package’s Nutrition label. Avoid foods high in sodium, sugar, fat, trans fats, saturated fats, and calories. 

 

  1. MYTH: Buy everything in bulk

Mega packages of food can be a great deal unless they’re big boxes of junk food. That’s just a big load of unhealthy temptations for your family. 

 

If you’re going to buy in bulk, stock up on healthy pantry staples or frozen items that you use a lot. And to keep it a bargain, make sure you’ll be able to finish items before they spoil.

 

  1. MYTH: Fresh produce is the best

 Frozen fruits and vegetables are as healthy as fresh produce. They’re frozen at peak ripeness, which preserves their nutrients.

 

If you buy canned fruit and veggies, rinse them before you eat them to cut back on added sugar and up to half the salt. Also, look for cans labeled with no sugar or no salt added.

 

Meal preparation is the concept of preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule. 

 

This helps you to indulge in your favorite meals while controlling the meal portion size, thus ensuring that you don’t overindulge. 

 

For safe food preparation take note of the following points:

  1. Clean the surface and produce before chopping.
  2. The cooking area, utensils, and kitchen cloth or equipment should be clean always. 
  3. Utensils and equipment should be cleaned after every preparation.
  4. Raw foods and cooked foods should be handled separately during meal preparation.
  5. Cooked foods should be covered and stored properly to prevent contamination.

 

Now that you have decided to prep your own meals, take note of the following points:

 

  1. Prepare your menu- Decide which recipe you are going to prepare for a meal and plan your ingredients accordingly. 

 

  1. Plan your meal with the foods that are available in season or on sale – Invest in seasonal ingredients to add variety to your diet. They are also fresher and more affordable.

 

  1. Check the refrigerator, pantry, and freezer – check the expiry date of the food that you have. You will be able to use the food before it spoils.

 

  1. Avoid the recipe that requires a special ingredient- make sure that the ingredient goes well with all the recipes if not, avoid the recipe. Because, if the ingredient is used only once and if it is not used for a long period of time then the product gets expired, and also it is a waste of money. 

 

  1. Cover your leftovers- Prepare your leftovers as a new recipe instead of throwing them away. For example, leftover chapati can be prepared as chili chapatis. This will reduce the cost and homemade foods will be safe for consumption.

 

Food labels are an integral part of a food product. It gives vital information about the product and its shelf life.

 

It is one of the most significant factors to consider in menu planning, as it tells you about the ingredients of the product.

 

Next time you see a food label, make sure to check the following:

 

Use by and expiry date – tells you if the food is safe to consume.

 

Ingredient list – tells you if any allergen is present and the presence of any preservatives or flavors or colors.

 

Storage instructions – It guides you on how to store the foods before and after opening the package and storage temperature. 

 

Still not able to plan your meals?

 

Follow these simple steps to get started today.

 

  • Check your inventory- Take a note of the ingredients available at home first, and buy ingredients accordingly 

 

  • Track your meals- Keep recording your meals to get a better idea of your meal pattern and build an outline for your meal plan.

 

  • Look out for seasonal items- Its always a great idea to include fresh and seasonal produce in your diet

 

  • Add your proteins- Don’t forget your protein sources and it needn’t be from a single source. Mix them up and create a variety.

 

  • Don’t discard the leftovers- Shower some love on your leftovers, they can be lifesavers on busy days.

 

  • Plan Plan Plan – It’s all about planning. Spend a couple of hours on the weekend and build your weekly meal plan.

 

Hydration power!

Our body is made up of almost 60% of water. Water is very important for many basic functions of the body such as transportation, chemical reactions, lubrication, shock absorption and temperature regulation.

Summer is a time where hydration becomes even more crucial for proper functioning of the body. The requirement of water for any individual depends on their age, gender, occupation and environmental conditions. But, in general, 3-4 litres of water on an average is vital and advisable.

Signs of dehydration-

Dehydration can occur to people of all ages but infants, children, and elders are more vulnerable to dehydration.

Some signs of dehydration:
-Headaches
-Muscle cramps
-Dark urine or no urination
-Dry nasal passage
-Cracked and dry lips
-Dry skin
-Feeling extreme thirst or parched

A simple method to identify if you are properly hydrated or not is to check for the color of your urine. Urine should be transparent to pale yellow in color, dark color urine can be a sign of dehydration. Also, try to focus on replenishing the lost fluids by sweating to prevent dehydration. Apart from water, consuming drinks containing electrolytes such tender coconuts are also great options.

Significance of electrolytes-

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge. The electrolytes in the body are Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Bicarbonates. Your cells use electrolytes to produce energy, which is why you might feel tired if you’re low on them. They’re all connected to fluid loss! That’s why the dynamic duo of water and electrolytes is so important for hydration.

An electrolyte imbalance can happen for many reasons such as,
-Dehydration
-Sweating
-Diarrhea
-Vomiting
-Severe burns
-Heart diseases
-Kidney diseases
-Eating disorders

Signs of electrolytic imbalance-

There are many symptoms that pop up due to electrolytic imbalance but it depends on the type of electrolyte that is out of balance. Some of the signs include fatigue, mood changes, confusion, stomach pain, loss of appetite, numbness in the hands and feet, irregular heartbeat or muscle cramping. Electrolytes are also found in foods like dense leafy greens, cucumbers, water fruits and celery.

Benefits of water and electrolytes in Summer

– It helps to balance your body temperature. Hence, keeps you cool and cope with summer better.
-Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can cause brain fog as electrolytes play an essential role in supporting the neurotransmitters that your brain depends on.
-Drinking plenty of water and electrolytes may enhance physical performance during exercise sessions and especially during summer when the heat can induce further dehydration.
-Water and electrolytes help the blood carry oxygen to different parts of the body.
-Proper balance will also support digestive process.
-It will help you to keep your skin healthy!

Enjoy the summer to the fullest by ensuring to stay hydrated throughout and keeping your electrolytic balance in check!

Global data suggests that almost half of the mortality rate under 5 corresponds to malnutrition. So, a healthy nutritious diet is a significant contributor in the growing and developing years of children. India is yet to meet the target for stunting and growth, but
34.7% of children under 5 years of age are still affected, which is higher than the average for the Asia region (21.8%). And this especially corresponds to the children from poor economic backgrounds. Although there is a declining trend in the malnutrition status among children in India, the socio-economic background still remains a key risk factor. The risk of malnutrition was significantly higher among
children living in joint families, children whose mother’s education was less than or equal to sixth standard and those with working mothers.

On the other hand, since most of the nutritional assessments focus on malnutrition only; the risk of overnutrition has also increased among growing children which should also be given attention as it can lead to spurting of many metabolic disorders later during adulthood.

Hence, a healthy nutritious diet is a significant contributor in the growing and developing years of children as it will help set the stage for them towards building a healthy eating practice for the rest of their lives.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOODS?

Childhood is the most important stage for growth and development of their brain and immune system. So, getting the right amount of energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals is very critical. Apart from this, focusing on hygiene practices while preparing the meals
is also important to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal infections. A simple and proper meal plate designed with all nutrients will enable achieving optimal growth and development.

  • Include energy providing foods – It includes carbs and fats. So, give them energy rich foods like whole grains, nuts and vegetable oils, fruits like bananas, apples and starchy vegetables like carrot, sweet potatoes.
  • Body building foods-Protein: It helps with growth, development and repair along with building antibodies. Add a good amount of eggs, meat, fish and dairy products.
  • Protective foods – Make the meal plate colourful with different varieties of vegetables and fruits. It will help the body to function properly and boost the immune system.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are very crucial for growing children for development of bone mass. So, the inclusion of dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and vegetables like spinach, broccoli and celery which are rich in calcium is a must. Children get most of their Vitamin D from sunlight and a small amount from some food items like (fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese and egg yolks).

A simple way to ensure that kids get the right amount of nutrients is to choose and offer healthy foods for them to eat. It’s also the key to a healthy and balanced plate because each food has a unique combination of nutrient supply—both macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THEIR EATING BEHAVIOUR:

In recent days, children are more inclined towards less nutrient dense foods or fast/convenient foods or are malnourished due to their economic background who require fortified high nutrient dense foods to combat their condition. It is our responsibility as an individual/parent and as a nation to guide the children to healthy eating opportunities no matter what their background is, to make them understand what to eat and whether to eat it or not. Setting a proper eating routine will help develop better eating behaviour since childhood and many national programs like Anganwadi feeding or home rations also help towards this. We need to inspire them to have and prefer healthy foods which are prepared at home because children generally observe what we eat and offer to them which will only set their food choices for future.

Tips to set healthy eating behaviour from home

  • Make the meal plates colourful and interesting. Pack their lunch boxes mindfully and add small notes on their food choices.
  • Try to have a bowl full of fresh fruit within easy view and reach on the kitchen table or bench. You can offer fruit as a snack or if your child is still hungry after meals.
  • Avoid digital distractions
  • Involve your children in cooking. If your child has helped to make the meal, they’re more likely to eat it.
  • Read books with healthy food content for your child – for example, books with pictures of fruits and vegetables. Get your child to point out different types, colours, shapes and so on which will help them to relate during meal time and create curiosity to try them.
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