Meeta Lall

Nutrition  Meeta Lall

A Gold Medalist in Nutrition, Meeta Lall feels that nutrition requires a rethink today. She has taught Nutrition at Lady Irwin College, Delhi, and has researched health and nutrition programs with CARE & IMRB. She authored the book The Power of N: Nutrition for our Times.

My 16 year old daughter is 5.10' and nearly 70kgs. She has a hectic schedule of school, tuitions and homework and is able to play tennis only once a week. During the week there is no physical activity and complains of feeling sleepy all the time. Please suggest a diet plan that is wholesome at the same time light. My 16-year-old daughter is 5' 10'' and nearly 70kgs. She has a hectic schedule of school, tuitions and homework and is able to play tennis only once a week. During the week there is no physical activity and she complains of feeling sleepy all the time. Please suggest a diet plan.Question by: Sandhya
Answer : Dear Sandhya
Your daughter is a tall girl and her weight for height ratio is more or less fine… yes, you are right she needs a healthy meal plan which will keep her fit enough to go through her hectic week.
At the same time, you need to ensure that she gets the mandatory 7-8 hours of sleep – teens nowadays tend to sleep very late at night and have to get up early for school…
A well-balanced diet which contains a mix of carbs, proteins and fats will be ideal for her. I am specifying the approximate amounts of various food groups that you need to consume every day. You will note that the amounts are given in terms of exchanges. For example, the cereal exchange includes all foods from grains including chapatis, bread, rice, idli, dosa, poha, upma, cornflakes, biscuits, etc. All foods within an exchange provide more or less the same amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This means that you can interchange foods within an exchange for variety. For example, for breakfast, you may have a parantha one day, a sandwich the next day and so on …
Cereals – 8 exchanges (1 exchange = 30 g or equivalent to 1 medium chapati/ 1 slice bread/ 1 small plate rice or porridge/ two biscuits)
Pulses – 2 exchanges (1exchange = 30 g or 1 katori cooked dal)
Meat/chicken/fish/egg - 1 exchange (1exchange = 50 g or 2 medium pieces or 1 egg
Milk (skim) – 3 exchanges (1exchange = 100 ml or ½ glass or 1 katori curd)
Green leafy vegetables – 1exchange (1exchange = 100 g or 1 tablespoon cooked greens)
Other vegetables – 2 exchanges (1exchange = 100 g or 1 small katori cooked vegetable)
Roots & tubers – 1exchange (1exchange = 100 g or 1 large potato)
Fruits – 2 exchanges (1exchange = 100 g or one small apple/orange/pear)
Fats – 4 exchanges (1exchange = 5 g or one teaspoon)
Sugar/honey – 4 exchanges (1exchange = 5 g or one teaspoon)
• Distribute the above food groups across 3 main meals and 2 small snacks.
• She should not not miss meals. Skipping meals causes sudden hunger pangs leading to bingeing.
• Small, frequent meals provide a steady supply of calories and keep hunger in control. Reduce portion size at each meal. She should eat slowly and stop eating when slightly hungry.
• She should eat when she is hungry, not when she is bored or stressed.
• Between-meal snacks are fine as long as she sticks to low-calorie yoghurt, fresh fruit or unsweetened wholegrain biscuits.
• Avoid fatty foods - fried foods, namkeens, chips fast foods; vegetables cooked in lots of oil; paranthas; chips, samosas, pakodas and namkeens; curries, gravies and cream sauces; butter, cheese, mayonnaise and rich salad dressings. Also, high calorie foods such as mithai and desserts; sugar in tea/coffee/milk; colas and sweet fruit juices; foods made from maida such as white bread/biscuits/pasta/white rice/naan/bhaturas/buns/soup sticks; potatoes, sweet potato, arbi and yam. All these make a person sleepy.
With best wishes
Meeta
I am 13yrs old. I am 157cms and I attained puberty at the age of 11. I am 53kg. I want to increase my height, without increasing weight.Over the past one year i dont find myself growing much. I seemed to grow fast during the puberty stage. But suddenly it has come to a standstill. I hope i will continue to grow. Kindly suggest tips to grow tall,without putting on weight.Question by: vidhya
Answer : Dear Vidhya
You are a tall girl and will continue to gain height but at a much slower rate… automatically, your weight for height ratio will improve. Do not even think of dieting – you are just fine. NOT AT ALL. Remember, you are still growing and dieting or restricting calories can greatly jeopardize your mental, emotional and sexual development. So instead of eating less, you really need to eat the right kind of foods in the right amounts at the right time. Remember, girls who do not eat right during adolescence jeopardize their chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a robust child.
Keep the following points in mind and you will soon be on the road to good health:
• Never, never miss a meal. Do not rush from home in the morning without breakfast – even if it is a glass of cold milk, a toast and a fruit.
• Carry a healthy home-made tiffin to school (even if you don’t agree with the idea at all); otherwise, you will end up eating whatever is available in the canteen - greasy burgers, noodles, patties and whatnot.
• Eat healthy food at all times. Each of your meals should combine foods from all the food groups - cereals, pulses/meat, milk/curd with liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables.
• Since you have a hectic schedule, ask your mom to give you foods which can be eaten on the run: sandwiches layered with mushroom/chicken filling; rolls containing kebabs and vegetables.
• Limit the number of choices at a meal. More the food choices, the more we tend to eat.
• Before serving up a second portion, wait a few minutes.
• You don’t always have to finish the food on your plate. Instead, listen to your internal cues of satiety and hunger.
• Do not food as a reward. Do not say, “I was very good today, I now deserve a pizza.’
• Do not keep eating all day: frequent snacking on chips, namkeens, burgers, chocolates, colas etc. is what makes us fat. Instead, have three main meals and two small snacks in-between. Healthy snacks include parantha rolls, layered crackers, nut brittle (patti or chikki), yoghurt, fresh fruit, roasted chanas etc.
• Do not eat in front of the TV – you will be surprised how much extra food we put in!
• Do not give up your favorite foods totally. Instead, opt for half and later, quarter portions. Total deprivation only makes our favorite foods more attractive.
• Restrict deep-fried foods and namkeens, chips and popcorn; red meat; whole milk and paneer/cheese/curd, packaged baked goods, namkeens, potato chips, nachos, snack foods and fried snacks like samosas, pakoras and vadas. Allow yourself a treat of these only once or twice a week.
• Cut back on the high calorie-low nutrient ‘white foods’ - pasta, rice, potatoes, white breads, breakfast cereals and corn. Candy, cakes and chocolates are okay once in a while.
• Limit fast foods to once a fortnight or even less. Fast foods provide large amounts of fat and simple carbohydrates but are low in iron, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamins A and C.
• Drink lots and lots of fluids (preferably water) during the day. But avoid cold drinks totally. Soft drinks usually substitute milk thereby lowering calcium intake. This can increase the risk of broken bones.
• Request your physician to prescribe you some supplements esp. calcium and iron/folate supplements.
Besides healthy eating, physical activity is particularly important at your age. Experts recommend that all adolescents should participate in moderate physical activity (15 minutes of running or 30-40 minutes of brisk walking or 45 minutes of playing volleyball) on most, if not all, days of the week. Decide what activity you would like to do at least 2-3 times a week: swimming, basketball, cycling, tennis, etc.
Do let me know your progress …
With best wishes,
Meeta Lall
Please suggest a diet for a Rheumatoid arthritis patient.Question by: Sabiya Shaikh
Answer : Dear Sabiya
Rheumatoid Arthritis inflames the lining of our joints causing extreme tenderness and pain. While there are no "miracle" foods that will cure the condition, eating healthy can help in relieving the condition to some degree.
Since the weight of our body falls on the joints, maintaining a healthy body weight is extremely important. If your mother is overweight, a healthy diet will help her in losing the few extra pounds which will make all the difference in relieving the pain, stiffness and swelling in her joints. She should consume a diet rich in whole grains, dals, nuts, fruits and vegetables esp green leafy ones. Fortunately, the traditional Indian diet (minus the excessive fat/oil typically used) matches the recommended diet for arthritis. If she is a non-vegetarian, then oily fish (like singhada) are beneficial.
She should follow the half plate rule: half of your plate should be filled with starchy foods (chapatis, rice, breads, pasta, potatoes) and protein foods (milk/curd/cheese and fish/chicken/eggs/pulses). The rest half should be veggies cooked in minimal amounts of oil and fruits.
In specific, she should:
• Go in for whole grain cereals, flours and breads instead of refined cereals.
• Avoid red meats totally; instead have eggs, chicken and especially fatty fish available in our markets.
• Eat plenty of dairy products – milk, curd, cheese – but made from skim milk.
• Include traditionally eaten dals esp the ones with chilka (husk) regularly.
• Have at least five portions of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as apples, beets, cran/blue/strawberries, cherries, capsicum, spinach, broccoli, oranges and tomatoes.
• Nuts esp walnuts and almonds are wonderful for her. She should eat at least 8-10 nuts every day. A handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds will also be great.
• Avoid fatty and fried foods and sugary cookies, mithais and desserts. Sugar can be totally avoided.
• Limit the amount of oil used in cooking ~ her total fat intake from added oils should be at the most 3-4 teaspooons in the day. Use more of olive and canola oils for cooking.
• Avoid too much of salt as well as alcohol
In fact, research shows that fish oil supplements like krill oil (not to be confused with fish liver oil supplements) are rich in vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acids – they can reduce symptoms to some extent; please request your doctor to prescribe an appropriate fish oil supplement as well as a general multivitamin for your mother.
Mild exercises – as recommended by the physiotherapist – will further help. Walking – even if done slowly – truly helps. Yoga – done under the guidance of an expert – can also help. But take care: it should not aggravate the condition.
With best wishes
Meeta
I am 16 years old.My weight is 92kg. From the last two years, I am keen on losing weight to become fit.Please suggest a suitable diet.Question by: Anuj
Answer : Dear Anuj
I am happy you are concerned about your health at this young age… and yes, you really need to improve your weight for height ratio. But at your age, I would definitely NOT recommend dieting.
But I would suggest that you pay more attention to eating healthy and become very very active in your routine. Both are equally important.
Keep the following points in mind and you will soon be on the road to good health:
• Never, never miss a meal. Do not rush from home in the morning without breakfast – even if it is a glass of cold milk, a toast and a fruit.
• Carry a healthy home-made tiffin to school (even if you don’t agree with the idea at all); otherwise, you will end up eating whatever is available in the canteen - greasy burgers, noodles, patties and whatnot.
• Eat healthy food at all times. Each of your meals should combine foods from all the food groups - cereals, pulses/meat, milk/curd with liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables.
• Since you have a hectic schedule, ask your mom to give you foods which can be eaten on the run: sandwiches layered with mushroom/chicken filling; rolls containing kebabs and vegetables.
• Limit the number of choices at a meal. More the food choices, the more we tend to eat.
• Before serving up a second portion, wait a few minutes.
• You don’t always have to finish the food on your plate. Instead, listen to your internal cues of satiety and hunger.
• Do not food as a reward. Do not say, “I was very good today, I now deserve a pizza.’
• Do not keep eating all day: frequent snacking on chips, namkeens, burgers, chocolates, colas etc. is what makes us fat. Instead, have three main meals and two small snacks in-between. Healthy snacks include parantha rolls, layered crackers, nut brittle (patti or chikki), yoghurt, fresh fruit, roasted chanas etc.
• Do not eat in front of the TV – you will be surprised how much extra food we put in!
• Do not give up your favorite foods totally. Instead, opt for half and later, quarter portions. Total deprivation only makes our favorite foods more attractive.
• Restrict deep-fried foods and namkeens, chips and popcorn; red meat; whole milk and paneer/cheese/curd, packaged baked goods, namkeens, potato chips, nachos, snack foods and fried snacks like samosas, pakoras and vadas. Allow yourself a treat of these only once or twice a week.
• Cut back on the high calorie-low nutrient ‘white foods’ - pasta, rice, potatoes, white breads, breakfast cereals and corn. Candy, cakes and chocolates are okay once in a while.
• Limit fast foods to once a fortnight or even less. Fast foods provide large amounts of fat and simple carbohydrates but are low in iron, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamins A and C.
• Drink lots and lots of fluids (preferably water) during the day. But avoid cold drinks totally. Soft drinks usually substitute milk thereby lowering calcium intake. This can increase the risk of broken bones.
• Request your physician to prescribe you some supplements esp. calcium and iron/folate supplements.
Besides healthy eating, physical activity is particularly important at your age. Experts recommend that all adolescents should participate in moderate physical activity (15 minutes of running or 30-40 minutes of brisk walking or 45 minutes of playing volleyball) on most, if not all, days of the week. Decide what activity you would like to do at least 2-3 times a week: swimming, basketball, cycling, tennis, etc.
With best wishes
Meeta
I am 17 and my height is 5'3''. My weight is 48kg. How do I grow tall and fit?Question by: sourav
Answer : Dear Sourav
You are a teenager and your basal metabolic rate – or the rate at which your body burns calories – is high (which is very normal at your age). You are also adding on bone and muscle mass very rapidly – so whatever food you are eating is also getting used up. So don’t worry. At the same time, you are rushing from home to school to sports to friends and hardly have time to eat properly.
Keep the following points in mind and you will be fine:
• Never, never miss a meal. Do not rush from home in the morning without breakfast – even if it is a glass of cold milk, a toast and a fruit.
• Carry a healthy home-made tiffin to school (even if you don’t agree with the idea at all); otherwise, you will end up eating whatever is available in the canteen - greasy burgers, noodles, patties and whatnot.
• Eat healthy food at all times. Each of your meals should combine foods from all the food groups - cereals, pulses/meat, milk/curd with liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables.
• Since you have a hectic schedule, ask your mom to give you foods which can be eaten on the run: sandwiches layered with mushroom/chicken filling; rolls containing kebabs and vegetables.
• Drink lots and lots of fluids (preferably water) during the day. But avoid cold drinks totally. Soft drinks usually substitute milk thereby lowering calcium intake. This can increase the risk of broken bones.
• Request your physician to prescribe you some supplements esp. calcium and iron/folate supplements.
Besides healthy eating, physical activity is particularly important at your age. Experts recommend that all adolescents should participate in moderate physical activity (15 minutes of running or 30-40 minutes of brisk walking or 45 minutes of playing volleyball) on most, if not all, days of the week. Decide what activity you would like to do at least 2-3 times a week: swimming, basketball, cycling, tennis, etc.
With best wishes
Meeta Lall
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