Healthy diet prevents lifestyle diseases: Dr. Niti Desai

Niti Desai has a rich and varied experience in the field of nutrition, having built anenviable client list of individuals and organizations.

Niti has a masters degree in nutrition and dietetics and postgraduate diploma indietetics from the Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. She is an executive council member of Indian Dietetic Association – Mumbai chapter.

She was the official nutritionist for the Femina Miss India 2008 and Grazia FordSupermodel India 2008.She also advised olympic champions – Mary Kom, Gagan Narang and others in preparation of London olympics while on board with olympic gold quest.

Niti answered Sify readers’ queries related to the above in an exclusive chat. Read the transcript below.

I am working in an Healthcare IT which demands irregular shifts. Please suggest how to loose weight. Currently following the product ‘Metaslim for a while. Have gained 10 kgs, optimum is 52 kg, Please help

In view of irregular shifts – make sure you eat every three hours – plan the meals / snacks – and may be carry from home – do not allow your self to be very hungry at any point of time – and include a daily physical activity routine.

There is a lot of things that we get to hear about dairy products. What is your opinion on dairy products?

You are right – dairy is controversial – if you are a vegetarian – let skimmed milk and skimmed milk products be part of your diet as they are a very good source of first class – superior quality protein and of course calcium. dairy fat – ghee / butter should definitely be avoided.

Can you please tell me Madam that what can be substituted for milk as I have a problem in digesting milk.

Most people who can not tolerate milk are able to manage curd / paneer very well – so try including curd / paneer in your diet.

Any useful tips for desired weight control? thanks a lot for the answers Madam.

Maintaining the increased physical activity is very important for weight maintenance.

Can we go back from salads to normal diet for dinner after the desired weight loss?

It does not work – the weight will bounce back – there need to be gradual sustainable changes.

If we take up only salads diet for dinner for weight loss, how long should we continue this?

It is not a good idea to have only salads as 1. it is not sustainble 2. you may feel hungry a little later in the night and you will end up eating lot of junk at that time of the day. 3. salads should definately have beasprouts / curd / paneer / chicken in it or along with it.

What is the ideal weight for a 27 yr old male, height 5ft 6″?

In the range of 62 – 65 kgs

What is more advisable weight loss or fat loss?

Definitely fat loss – but fat loss will generally lead to weight loss unless there is considerable gain in lean muscle mass.

How good is fasting for weight loss?

Not a good idea at all.

I am 33 yrs. I had lost 12 kgs through diet and exercise 6 months back as I was overweight.But I have regained back 10 kgs despite diet control.

Maintenance is a bigger challenge for every one – so don’t worry – you are not alone – one of the components either the caloric intake or the physical activity has taken a hit – please review your physical activity levels in very few cases – we may also want to do a thyroid function test.

Why do some people are unable to control and maintain a stagnant weight?

Please refer to the earlier question.

I stay in Bangalore Madam, How can I decide on a good dietician? Off late I am gaining weight rapidly.

Good question – please check the credentials and qualifications as anyone and everyone these days dishes out nutrtional advice !!! contacting any large hospital may help.

Can the dietary supplements be self prescribed?

Not really. please do not indulge in self- medication.

Can bitter gourd be consumed everyday? I have heard that it improves the metobolism of the body.

Yes – it does help control blood sugar levels

How accurate is BMI? Do everyone need to know his or her BMI?

It is fairly accurate as a starting point to know if your a healthy weight – and it is very easy to calculate but BMI a + your waist to hip ratio gives a better idea.

What is the difference between an overweight and an obese?

Overweight is a BMI between 23 and 25 obese is a BMI above 25 +

Can a healthy diet help us avoid serious diseases?

Yes – a healthy diet is the first step to prevention of especially lifestyle diseases- such as obesity , diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and acidity.

Hello Nitiji, What is Ketogenic diet?

It is a diet that is very low in carbohydrates – not easy to follow and only used in cases of epilepsy where other treatment modalities have failed – do not try it for weight loss!!!!

Is it true that we should have a low protein diet for dinner?

No such thing – a traditional indian diet is anyways low in protein – our effort should be to increase our protein intake.

What is the benefit of low carb and low fat diet?

It helps weight loss and keeps your blood parameters like cholesterol / triglycerides and sugar in check.

Is jaggery very good for health? Can we consume it everyday?

Not really – calorie wise it is the same as sugar – it has some micronutrients in very small amounts – so if you are not watching your weight or not a diabetic – you can replace the sugar intake with jaggery but not otherwise.

I am 40 yrs now. I want to control over my intake of salt and sugar? What should I do? Any substitutes?

Do not use slat shaker / do not have papad / picklets / avoid adding soda to vegetable s/ cut down the use of sugar in tea / coffee / reduce the intake of sweets / chcolates / mithais / ice creams and aerated drinks and sherbets in this season..

Good Afternoon M”am, Are there any steps to be followed for a weight loss through a balanced diet?

Many steps !!! 1. motivation 2. portion control 3. not skipping meals 4. keeping to regular times 4. cutting down on high calorie foods 5. adequate fluid intake.

What form of oil is the best to consume?

Ricebran or soyabean oil

What is the right quantity of oil that can be consumed everyday?

Pls refer to the earlier queries

Can weight loss be attained by diet control alone? Or is exercise a must?

ideally it needs to be a combination of both – so that you only lose fat and not the good muscle mass – although diet does play a more important role.

How many eggs a day can one eat to keep healthy?

For a normal healthy individual who does not have to worry about weight or cholesterol levels – 4 whole eggs in a week – and any number of egg whites.

What foods should be avoided to control cholesterol?

Foods high in fat – such as fried foods / chocolates / ice-cream / mithais and bakery products – limit the intake og ghee / butter / coconut to a minimum – oil consumption should be 1/2 kg per person per month.

Hi dr i wanna loose weight can u guide me in a right way. and how can i provide whole nutrition to my 6 yr old child.she is hyperactive but slow process of eating the process is very much milk to be provided to that age.

Make eating fun and add variety – mask the food groups that she / he does not like – like vegetables in soup or paratha or in the pizza sauce / generally 2 glasses of milk / curd / paneer should be sufficient.

How are organic foods different from the normally available foods?

There are many parameters – but generally they are grown without chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

With so many variety available for milk today, which is the best type for good health?

Skimmed milk

What is your suggestion on canned or frozen foods?

Frozen foods – especially the raw ones – such as frozen chicken or peas are a better option then canned foods. canned foods generally have more preservatives and salt – frozen ready to eat foods such as nuggets or chips are not a good idea.

I am a working woman staying with my husband. Sometimes I reach home late due to work. What is the quickest nutritional option for dinner?

If you are non vegetarian – egg whites omlette / bhurji and 2 slices of wholewheat toast or khichri ( more dal ) + curd or soup and beans salad are some ideas.

Are take away foods or meals healthy?

That all depends on the choices you make !!!!! a take away wholewheat bread sandwich or roti + dal + vegetable ( not oily ) may not be as unhealthy as a takeaway of burger + chips + coke.

What is a detox diet Nitiji?

There is no scientific basis for detox diets – body does not need detox diets althugh a various combinations of fruits / vegetables / juices are being promoted as detox diets.

Anything to be included by a pregnant woman in her breakfast to avoid or reduce morning sickness?

Have a couple of cream cracckers or marie biscuits or a piece of dry wholewheat toast – first thing in the morning.

Why is it that a pregnant women requires more follic acid and iodine?

Studies have shown that folic acid is very important to prevent neural tube defectrs – especially in the first trimester – the requirements for all vitamins and minerals go up during pregnancy.

I am 27 yrs old female and 3 months pregnant. What are the most essential nutrients I would require during pregnancy.

It has to be a balanced diet that includes all food groups – pay particular attention to protein, calcium and iron – include a variety of fruits / veggies and nuts in your diet – you must be taking a folic acid supplement – you do not need to eat for two !!

What is the best form of calcium for my 10 yr old son?

Dairy calcium has the best absorption rates – so skimmed milk and skimmed milk products should work well.

My son has this habit of eating his food while watching Television. Is this O.k?

This is not OK – this habit has to be completely discouraged – not for your son but for all the family members!!!

Doctor my son is 10 yrs old. Can food additives be harmful for my child in future?

Excessive use of food prodvuts with food additives is definately to be discouraged – but if he has not had any problems till now – the moderate use of food additives is not an issue.

Hi Niti Madam ! My problem is with my tummy .and My height is 5 ft. 10 inches and weight is 84 kgs,overweight with extra 10 – 12 kgs .So, can u please guide me easiest way to reduce my overweight 10 – 12 kgs in short span. Thanks Sooneel Pune.

There are no short cuts – to begin with avoid fried foods / sweets / chocolates -include regular physical activity and aim at 2 kgs a months weight loss p/month. Good news is that the abdominal fat is the first one to reduce.