Indian food made healthy

image_3_240x240sep05We all read, hear and see various articles and write ups about food and nutrition. But there is always a confusion about how to balance good nutrition with taste.

What is nutrition?
Nutrition in simple words is basically selecting foods from various food groups (given below) and preparing them in a healthier manner for better absorption, assimilation and digestion. Nutritionist, dietitians and health care professionals, always believe that a healthy body and mind can be achieved with correct nutrition and exercise. To get correct nutrition is not difficult but to create tasty meals which are healthy and balanced at the same time becomes a challenge for most of us.

The five major food groups which are important for us are:

  • Carbohydrates – wheat, whole grains, fruits, refined flours etc
  • Proteins – dals/ sprouts, non veg, pulses, milk & its products etc
  • Fats & Oils – ghee, oil, butter
  • Vitamins & Minerals – fruits, vegetables, milk etc
  • Fluid – water, liquids

Making healthy, balanced and tasty meals from the above groups is what we will discuss further.

Always combine a meal with all the 5 food groups.

  • Our Indian thali is the ideal representation of the food groups. It consists of rice/ roti, vegetable, dal/ sprouts, salad/ raita, curd/ buttermilk and some chutney or pickle for the spice and digestion.
  • Do remember your breakfast has to be heavy, lunch moderate and dinner light.
  • Fluids play a critical role in digestion and metabolism. So do consider taking up to 3 liters of fluids/ day.

Some Indian food choices made healthy:

  1. Roti – made from whole wheat, bajra, jawar, nachani, makkai or mixed grain
  2. Rice – roasting and then cooking rice helps in easier digestion. Boiling and discarding the water helps in reducing starch but also drains away some important nutrients. So avoid draining the water if possible; instead keep rice for your lunch, four days a week. Or make the rice healthier by making pulav with vegetables or khichdi with dals and vegetables or cooking the rice in whey (water leftover after making paneer) etc
  3. Vegetables – avoid deep fried. Instead roast, steam, bake, grill or sauté vegetables. Try and combine 2 vegetables or cook 2 different vegetables; one as dry and one with the gravy.
  4. Pulses/ Sprouts/ Dals – make it a point to add either of the 3 everyday. If you feel gaseous or bloated or have a problem digesting the proteins, incorporate Ajwain or hing in the tadka. Also do soak the pulse for good 6 – 8 hours before cooking. You can make them as a curry or tikkis or chat or add them to your rice
  5. Fluids – water, plays the most important role. Add in good 2 – 3 litres/ day. Also fluids like buttermilk, nimbu paani, kokum sherbet, soups, clear dal water etc can be added
  6. Fibre and Minerals – Salads, fruits need to be taken in abundance. Try to add in 1 raw vegetable for both your main meals and 2 fruits for the in between snack. Steamed corn or sprouts also are rich in fibre and nutrients.

Thus a combination of all the groups and a balance diet can keep you healthy and fit.

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Ms. Malavika Athavale
Consulting Nutritionist
Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic

Malavika Athavale has a PG Diploma in Dietetics from SNDT University (Mumbai) and industry experience in clinical and pediatric nutrition. She founded Eatrite – The Nutrition Clinic where she provides her consultancy services in individual diet counseling and corporate well-being initiatives.

Image: Getty Images

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