My clients give me surprised looks when I tell them that cheese is allowed in their diets. Cheese has been in the news for causing weight gain, acne, heart disease etc. All this is not true.
If you have read the book by Dr. Spencer Johnson “who moved my cheese”, which is a book on change, so it is time for us to look at cheese from a different perspective. It is alright for many to eat fried food, drink alcohol but cheese has been a taboo and avoid it like the plague.
Yes, it is completely safe to eat cheese. Cheese has been our diets from centuries. But lets look at the goodness of cheese.
Benefits of Cheese
It is high in calcium, hence is a great choice to increase calcium intake.
Cheese prevents osteoporosis by improving bone health.
It is a good source of protein for vegetarians giving about 5-7 grams per cube.
Low in carbohydrates compared to other dairy products as the milk sugar(lactose) is broken down due to the aging process, hence a good snack for diabetics.
Cheese helps in “fat burning”. Yes, it does by decreasing the parathyroid hormone levels in our blood. The primary function of parathyroid hormone is to maintain normal levels of calcium in the body. When calcium levels drop too low, parathyroid hormone is secreted to instruct bone cells to release calcium into the bloodstream. Hence higher levels of calcium in the blood reduces the level of this hormone, thereby preventing loss of calcium from bones. Wow!!!
It Improves insulin resistance.
Helpful for those who are lactose intolerant due to the less or no lactose content. Cheeses such as Swiss, cheddar can be had to reap the benefits of calcium without lactose.
Helps to reduce migraine headaches. If you have repeated attacks, increase calcium intake.
Ideal to add to diets for children and adolescents who love variations in diets.
Helps to lower your blood pressure.
It prevents tooth decay by reducing plaque acids.
It is rich in fat soluble vitamins such as A and D, and also rich in vitamin B groups as well as zinc, phosphorous, iodine and selenium. Hence it does not cause acne.
How can you enjoy Cheese?
Grate it over salads and soups.
Add a slice in your whole wheat sandwich with veggies.
My favorite snack – Melted cheese over steamed broccoli.
Cheese with fruits are great appetizers.
Eat alone as a snack.
If you are worried about the fat content, opt for low fat cheese. If you exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet, then it is safe to add about one ounce or 30grams of cheese in your diet daily.
I had an interesting conversation with a client today. He told me that at the office conference meet, there was a salad bar displayed but he was perplexed to see the high calorie dressings and refined breads and was curious to make better choices and give the caterer a better idea on what to serve the next time.
So here are a few pointers on how to navigate through a salad bar
Steer away from high calorie dressings such as mayonnaise, thousand island dressings, whipped cream and any other thick and creamy dressings. Opt for mustard, vinegar, lemon or yogurt.
If you do want to eat with a dressing, take less than a tablespoon at the side, as you would need more to mix if you mix up the salad.
Brighter the veggies,better the nutrition. Do not eat rotten looking or wilted veggies.They should look fresh and crunchy and of course clean.
Do not eat canned fruits, vegetables as they are high in sugar and salt. Go fresh.
Eat lean protein such as egg whites, chicken breast pieces, beans, cottage cheese, steamed shrimps and fresh fish. Its a no-no to egg yolks, canned and processed meats such as as sausages, salami which are high in fat and cholesterol.
Do not eat breads and pasta, if you do not consider your salad as a whole meal. But If you do, choose whole grain breads and smaller servings and skip the main course.
Choose clear soups, not cream soups.
Avoid fried croutons, fried noodles and cheese to cut calories.
Add good fats such as olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds. If avocado is served, do not add any other
Skip the potato salad. It can add extra calories with carbs and fat.
Avoid sauces which are loaded with cream, salt and preservatives.
If you want a sweet platter, opt for freshly cut fruits with yogurt. Avoid sugary syrups and ice cream mixes.
Stick to 100% juices if served, not coke or beer.
Last but not the least, choose smaller plates and do not load up all whats is sight. Now enjoy and eat healthy at a salad bar.
A client of mine during a counseling session told me that she has stopped drinking milk as someone told her that it can make her fat. If she has been avoiding milk, she has been losing out on calcium…
Calcium is a mineral which makes up our bones and teeth. It helps in muscle contraction, nerve function,blood clotting etc
Calcium also triggers weight loss and has been proved by various studies. It has proven to reduce fat and cut down weight. It helps to reduce blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure.
It is recommended that one should take 1000-1200mg of calcium per day.
Let us have a look at the various sources of calcium which mainly is dairy.
Milk- opt for fat free or 1% fat milk. Drink at least 2 glasses per day. Helps to prevent strokes, heart attack, osteoporosis and may be even cancers.
Yogurt- I do not suggest fat free varieties as there is no much difference in the calories I have read on labels. But If you do come across authentic brands, go for them. Yogurt can be a post workout snack or a late afternoon snack.
Soya milk which is fortified with calcium and tofu made out of soya milk is a good source of calcium.
Cheese- yummy to eat, opt for low fat varieties and you can eat a cube or a single or melt it on a salad, whole wheat slice or in pasta.
Cottage cheese- can be had as a snack with stir fry veggies.
By adding these dairy products in your diet, you can avail the much needed calcium from these diets.
I counsel many clients who are in the pre-diabetes stages or are suffering from full blown diabetes. They are worried about table sugar and are ready to skip it in their morning cuppa or just quit eating sweets..But we have many doctors who know all about “nutrition” and “diet” and end up advising patients about their diets and project themselves that they know it all. I have heard doctors advising to skip sugar(okay acceptable), stop eating fruits(why on earth do they advise this) and stop drinking milk!!! These are the foods considered by doctors to be high in sugar. To tell you the truth, all foods contain sugars except for oils,egg whites,poultry and meats etc and also air and water. I ask my clients who want to have sugar free diets whether they want to live only on these foods and air and water. Then they realize that they were depriving themselves of the foods their body requires. If any doctor asks you to miss a complete food group in your diet, then he or she is misleading you.
Avoiding sugars is acceptable as most of our foods do provide us with natural or “hidden” sugars but avoiding dairy products is like a crime to the body. Milk and milk products are like elixir to the body. It has been proved that consuming low fat dairy products can help to reduce insulin resistance, than those who were avoiding dairy. The sugar present in milk products are lactose, which is also known as milk sugar, is said to be converted to blood sugar relatively slowly. This can help in blood sugar control and also help in reducing insulin resistance. (Pic showing a smart lady sipping on milk)
The protein present in milk too will fill you up and will prevent mid meal binges. If you are overweight, then you can opt for fat free milk products, but if your weight is under control, then you can opt for low fat milk, where the fat content is less than 2% of fat. The fat too will keep you satisfied and hence milk products can work as good snacks.
So how can you incorporate milk products in your diet…
Add milk in your high fiber cereal for breakfast.
Make smart choices for snack. Eat low fat yogurt with fruits for a snack.
Add cottage cheese in your salad.
Add low fat cheese in your sandwich…
Drink milk after dinner as a post a dinner snack.
Make low fat milk sweets at home for dessert.
Make fruit smoothies with milk and you can also add low fat dry milk powder for the extra boost of vitamins and protein…
So do not skip dairy if you want to maintain your blood sugars…
How can you increase your child’s concentration and memory?
Have you seen your child losing concentration quite often, forgetting trivial things very easily? Then your child’s memory must be suffering.
The brain requires adequate energy to function well and this can be provided with good nourishment through good food intake and regular physical activity. When your child is involved in strenuous mental activities such as exam preparations, planning for extra curricular activities, then your child will require extra energy.
Along with regular intake of healthy food, there are a few main foods which you need to include which will provide minerals such as zinc, lecithin, manganese, omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamins such as Vitamin E.
Good sources of these nutrients are whole wheat products, brown rice, oats, soya beans and legumes, eggs, milk, curds, cheese(yes it is safe to give cheese as a snack), nuts, unrefined vegetable oils. Flax seeds and fish too are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Besides these nutrients, adequate sleep and exercise is required. Exercise helps in stimulating fresh oxygen to the brain and sleep helps to relax and unwind the brain.
Involve your child in brain racking activities such as chess and also make your child do puzzles, crosswords and memory games.