( By Dr. Natoobhai J.Shah & Dr. Sailesh N. Shah )

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d-Basic Principles Of Diet

Thy food shall be thy remedy

It has been clearly documented that a rich caloric diet and excessive weight can accelerate the atherosclerosis process. In general, it is believed that one’s ideal weight is the lowest weight which one had between the age of 18 and 21 years. That should be the target weight to aim at and maintain. However, in adults, in those between the age of 25 and 45 years, there is some change not in the height of the skeleton, but in its form. Hence, to fill up some of these hollows, extra fat may be added by nature. Otherwise, most of us would look like scare-crows. The best alternative would be to follow the size or girth of your abdomen around navel. To keep heart healthy, the girth of abdomen in a relaxed posture would be 5 cms. ( two inches ) less than the girth of chest during normal; breathing. With varied human physiology to follow the life insurance tablets of age, height and weight would serve no purpose.

Obesity or overweight should be corrected by reducing the total caloric intake through diet. In order to do this, it is important to follow a dietary programme along with some exercise that can be incorporated into your daily routine. It is wise to leave the table feeling a little hungry.

The following principles should serve as a general guide to your eating habits :

  1. With the exception of air and water, any food or drink that you eat contains some calories or fuel. Any extra calories, consumed in excess of what your body requires, are ultimately stored as fat which gets deposited in your body. It is like extra money which is deposited in a bank. One feels happy to have a positive bank balance but a positive fat balance can play havoc with your health.

  2. Green vegetables and vegetable salads or soups contain much fewer calories, and they are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. You should note that a pill of vitamins and minerals does not contain calories and it does not make you put on weight nor does it stimulate appetite. It is a wrong belief.

  3. All other food items which are not strictly defined as ‘vegetables ‘ are rich in calories. The level of richness may vary, but they are all ultimately loaded with calories. Items such as chapatis, pulses, dals, milk, bread, biscuits, dry fruits, chocolates, sweets and even deserts are therefore as rich.

  4. In order to have less calories from your diet, eat more vegetables, more fruits and less of all the other items of food. Do not confuse a vegetarian diet with vegetables. A vegetarian can consume a great deal of chappatis, milk, dal and fruits which cannot be considered ‘vegetables.’

  5. The fat intake should be reduced to about 20 - 25 % of calories instead of 40 -60% which is quite a common habit. For an average urban adult, a total consumption of 45 to 50 grams of fats per day is sufficient.

  6. There should be ample consumption of vegetables, without the accompanying fat-laden sauces and gravies. You may consume one teaspoonful of ghee and two to three teaspoons of oil in 24 hours. Salt intake should be kept to a minimum. The quantity of salt allowed would vary from patient to patient. Let your physician decide whether you should have no salt, less salt or normal salt. Soda, used as baking powder, is as bad as salt. It is commonly used in bread, biscuits, pakoras and papads. Hence, if you are advised salt restriction you must also observe soda restriction. It is the sodium radicle which is present in both that can be harmful to some heart patients.

  7. Sunflower oil or corn oil is supposed to reduce the cholesterol level. It does so in a very small way, if at all. It is not as good as you may believe. After all, it is an oil, which means that it is also a fat. Fats, to remind you once again, are twice as rich as in calories. So , you may use even sunflower and corn oils though only in a limited quantity. The use of two or three teaspoons of any vegetable oil per day is enough to grease your systems. Anything in excess has negative effects, whatever the type of oil used.

  8. There is no objection to two or at the most three cups of tea in 24 hours, but it should be taken with minimum of sugar and milk.

  9. If you enjoy a drink , limit your alcohol consumption to one or at the most two small drinks ( about 30 ml. or one ounce). Do not eat anything extra with or after drinking. IN some people alcohol relaxes the nervous system, but not more than two small pegs should be consumed. If you cannot control your drinking, it is advisable to stop drinking and take a milk tranquilizer, should you need it for your nerves.

  10. Among non-vegetarian foods, chicken contains a smaller amount of fat and fish even less. These should be boiled or baked. Fish or chicken prepared as a " Moghlai" dish would necessarily contain a large quantity of oil or ghee, which would completely upset the caloric balance. This extra fuel is then converted into extra fat deposits on the abdomen, buttocks, cheeks and other areas of the body including coronary arteries.
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