On the occasion of National Nutrition Week, dieticians from Columbia Asia Hospital caution people about eating right. The idea is not to lose weight dramatically, but for it to be a gradual process that is sustainable.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines nutrition as the "intake of food, considered in relation to the body's dietary needs", and this is a concept that the hospital is promoting.
"At Columbia Asia Hospital, we see healthy food consumption as an integral part of healthcare in India. When we look at the records, we are increasingly observing a large number of people who are overweight. Food intake is the most important factor when it comes to weight loss. Body weight is a result of calorie input and output. Both should be in a balance if the person has an ideal body weight. If not, then those who are overweight can cut back on their nutrition intake by just 10%.
WHO defines being overweight if the body mass index (BMI) is greater than 25 and less than 30. Over that, an adult is considered obese. Excess body fat can result in a higher BMI. India has now emerged as the third most obese country after USA and China. Childhood obesity is also touching alarming proportions recently, as India reported more than 15 million obese children in 2015.
"Exercise is also important in the weight-loss process, and 45 minutes is the prescribed time for cardiovascular exercise (exercise that gets heart rate up—such as brisk walking). Also, once you lose weight, it's necessary to maintain this through a combination of diet and exercise. However, there is only so much one can exercise. This makes diet the main component of weight loss, as well as weight maintenance.
If the doctor says a person is overweight, it is advisable to develop a carefully structured eating pattern, to avoid going beyond a BMI of 30—this is obesity, and is now considered as a disease to be professionally treated," Dr Pratima Mishra, Dietitian, Columbia Asia Hospital-Ahmedabad.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity analyzed 493 weight-loss cases over a 25-year period. The result proved that a diet-plus-exercise intervention resulted in approximately four times weight loss over a 13 to 15 week period, as compared to an exercise-only intervention.
"There is a lack of awareness regarding the right food intake that our body needs. People often think an overdose of ghee and sugar is good for children. While ghee is good in moderation (not more than 10% of the diet), added sugar is bad. People also tend to binge-eat or drink alcohol a great deal, especially when under stress. While stress itself causes weight gain, it is aggravated by eating the wrong foods at the wrong time," says Dr Mishra.
Tips to eat healthy
Start with a nutritious breakfast of carbohydrate and protein. Carbs give you energy, while proteins build your body. The carbohydrates should be wholegrains—such as roti made with atta, and preferably not white bread. So a good breakfast would be an roti with egg, or paneer with wholewheat bread.
Snack on fruits, nuts, seeds, even vegetables with a hummus or curd-based dip. Eat dinner 2 hours before you sleep, so you digest all the foods.