The ‘Exam’ Diet

By now you do know that what you eat and drink affects ‘YOU’ – yes, definitely apart from your weight, it affects your mind, your mood and your ability to perform well in your Exam. Then I am sure you will be wondering – What is the best diet to follow on exam day? Can food and drink really influence my child’s result? Do you think ‘Food for Thought’ is just a random phrase? 😉

It’s the time of year when all that matters are Marks, Marks and more Marks. Answering your questions – YES – eating well definitely provides an added edge – during this rat-race where even half a mark can be a difference between Rank 1 and 2!

In the whole ‘Exam’ tension – we forget good nutrition. We OD on coffee (arre – don’t we have to stay up all night!), eat whatever we can lay our hands on (I need to munch – otherwise how do I study) – such and many more are the tales told. We think we can trick the brain and the body by eating these things to “keep energy levels up”. But we forget – who is more ‘shaana’ 😉 :p (smart!) However, this is not only harmful to your long-term health, but can also negatively affect your exam performance

Just like studying right from Day 1 (instead of burning candles at both ends a month before exam), eating sensibly right from the beginning helps you ace your tests. The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you will study and quicker you will remember and will be able to recall it quickly when writing your exam – instead of blanking out.

So how do I keep my brain running a fab marathon? Few tips –

Eat at regular intervals. Eating regular meals helps keep nutrient and energy levels more stable, and so you will not suddenly land up snacking on the crunchy munchy chips 😉

Avoid Packaged Processed Foods. Eat food and snacks made at home. Resist the temptation to eat packaged foods – be it chips or biscuits or anything. These foods will send you off on energy highs and lows — creating the exact opposite of a consistent stable high energy that you need during your long exam to perform well. So, a fresh homemade snack – beats all these meals hands down not just in taste but also the nutritional value of the food, and also in the way your brain and body respond to it.

Eat small, balanced meals. Eating large meals will slow you down, mentally and physically. Typically when you eat a large meal, you feel sleepy, because a lot of your blood flow is directed to your digestive system instead of the brain to digest the heavy meal. To keep your brain active – eat smart – eat small – you should feel light and active, more alert and refreshed after eating. This way you study well, are able to concentrate better and remember faster.

Start your day with a fruit. Fruit ranks high among the best foods you can eat for your brain. Eat any fruit – a fruit of your choice – because the natural sugar in fruit offers clean sustained and more stable energy, so you don’t experience the sudden drop in energy that typically follows once you have had tea or coffee (which is why you end up having cups after cups of tea/coffee – because your energy yo-yos from high to low).

Drink lots of water. Water is very important. Dehydration can make you lose your concentration, feel faint, and drain your energy. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink a glass of water. If you wait till you’re thirsty, it means your body is already a little dehydrated.

Don’t try any new foods, drinks, or supplements. Often we end up trying new super foods just before the exam because it is highly recommended by friends or family or some research. For your own sake avoid it. You don’t know how your body responds to them and you don’t want any surprises on exam day. Stick with food and drink your body is used to.

Get enough sleep. Many students get into the habit of studying late into the night, hoping to cram in a little more information into their already fatigued brains. For your brain to function well it needs rest too. Apart from eating right, brain needs a good restful sleep. If the brain is exhausted very often you end up forgetting everything or mixing up answers or just going blank the minute you start to write your paper.

So – eat well, sleep well and All the Best! 🙂

696fa5a4b82267306430ca19dc185abb

Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food

Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on the ignorance of food.

Rains and Pakora Cravings!

And its officially the Rainy season here 😀

The first drops of rain always bring a smile on our faces and we heave a sigh of relief – hoping that Picture-of-Mumbai-in-the-rains-Bombay-Monsoon-photo-4it will now cool the soaring temperatures

Bombay/ Mumbai is at its beautiful best during the rains! And the perfect way to celebrate this dreamy atmosphere around is to sit near the window – and not just watch the rains, but enjoy the soothing sound of rain, breathing deep – taking in the freshness of the air that only a fresh rainfall provides; watching children splash around in the puddles and making paper boats and rejoicing in the smell of fresh earth! Don’t we just want to sometimes just go out there and dance in the rain?

(Picture Courtesy – wonderfulmumbai.com)

To make it even more perfect – is to now sip on the hot mint-ginger chai with some fried yummies like pakoras or the king of Mumbai street food – Vada pav!! Don’t we all crave this? Did you know – it is not some silly fancy to crave these foods during rains – but there is an actual reason behind this. Our innate cravings that come from our gut have solid logic to them.

Most mothers know and some rather dread rains as they bring with it infections – both respiratory and digestive, fevers and various other issues. Why just children, don’t we also fall ill?

Now let’s talk logic – when or why do we fall ill? Why is it that some people fall ill more easily and others don’t? The reason is Immunity or the Immune system.

Immunity is the body’s natural defense system against illness and infections. Everyday several bacteria, virus and germs attack our body. Our body shows resistance against these attacks. This resistance level depends on how strong is our immune system. Strong immune system is a key for proper functioning of the body and to fight off most diseases. For staying healthy, our immune system should be really strong

Low immunity has become a major cause of concern today owing to changes in lifestyle and our eating habits! And one of the most overlooked reasons why our immune system collapses is insufficient calorie intake.

Be it at restaurants or at parties or in trains, anywhere for that matter – one of the hot topic for conversation includes counting calories and discussing our new discovered weight loss techniques or fad diets. So people want to avoid ‘the-so called-high-calorie’ food like the plague. And yesterday I overheard an even more fantastic gyaan (I am being sarcastic here!) – “we must never give our taste buds of anything that it wants.” And let me tell you – it did not come from a fit woman – rather from the exact opposite of fit!

Given that Aunty’s logic – means no garama-garam pakoras or vada pavs! And yes a pakka chance of catching flu or cold-cough and general dullness. Coming back to what I always say – our body or gut and our innate cravings are not our dushman (enemy)! Your body is not planning and plotting all the time to ruin your “weight loss” program!

In fact – we should revere our bodies for not reacting the way it should ideally have – for all the torture we put it through in the name of diet or exercise. Many people exercise as a way to punish their bodies for over eating. To them I would like to ask – did you eat the food or your stomach grew an arm and a mouth to eat it all! You were not mindful when you ate and you literally tortured your stomach into digesting all of that and if that was not enough you run like a maniac on treadmill to now burn it all off and punish yourself! Does this even remotely make sense? But so many people do this!

We should eat and exercise from the perspective of being FIT, HEALTHY and HAPPY and not to punish ourselves. And to be honest these punishing tatics never work – because most people who may have lost “weight” doing these things always put it back on!

Shouldn’t our diet and exercise plan aim to keep us fit for the rest of our lives? Or are we meant to yo-yo from losing weight and putting it back on? – and this seems to be like on a loop!

So again – your palate is not here to disrupt your your weight loss plans. It is only trying to protect your immunity – so that you do not fall prey to a whole range of infections. To provide the system with the adequate calorie surge needed to protect from bacterial and viral and other infections does our body urge us to eat fried food. And simply because it cannot speak in the formal way – do we end up craving for these.

To my thinking minds – tell me one thing – during summers does our body not quease at the thought of eating these same fried food! This is because our gut-feelings are intelligent enough! Give your body some credit.

So it is not you being crazy with your cravings and it has nothing to do with ‘control’ or ‘willpower’ as a few people feel.

There are essential fats, like in filtered groundnut oil – being rich in antioxidants (much more than your 1 cup of green tea) that help you fight free radicals and prevent illnesses and infections. These also make your skin glow and strengthen the roots of your hair. (Are we not told to oil our hair – when we face hair fall – same logic!)

And I am talking about the pakoras and vadas that you fry at home – so you know exactly what oil you are using and you will not re-use that oil – which happens outside!  And the craving for the ginger-mint chai with these is because ginger assists your intestines to break down fat and rids your stomach of gas. That way, your smart body has taken care of what-looks-like overindulgence too.

chai-and-pakoras-at-grand-hyatt-goa-4

 

 

(Picture Courtesy – http://goanewswire.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/chai-and-pakoras-at-grand-hyatt-goa-4)

So stop cursing your body – your cravings and your calories. Eat mindfully and eat in moderation and exercise right and you will find yourself enjoying your food and yet being Fit-Healthy and Happy!

Happy Eating 😀

 

Food for Thought – Are our Children Eating Right?

KidZania, Mumbai is simply fabulous! It is a child’s dream come true. Right from the concept to planning and execution to the designing and structuring – this place is FAB! Splendid execution of their philosophy of empowering, inspiring and educating kids through real-life role-playing activities. By blending reality with entertainment, KidZania provides an authentic and powerful developmental platform, preparing kids to understand and manage their world better.

Yesterday (4-Jun-14) was the first time, I visited this place and was totally in awe and in love with it. I wish I could be child again, just for a day to enjoy this place. It is a magnet-like place for kids. Kids being so impressionable take back not only wonderful memories but thoughts, inspirations and new ideas.

Though this place is perfect, I just felt one tiny bit missing. That while we are introducing children to such mind-blowing achievable ideas at this stage – we are completely overlooking the nutrition aspect of the foods being served there. Honestly, I love my pizzas or burgers or donuts – I am not someone to deny myself or someone else these foods, but I feel that from a place like Kidzania where kids learn so much consciously as well as subconsciously – it would be really awesome to give them these same pizzas, burgers or anything else – served more nutritiously. Let each meal be complete meal – with carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins & minerals (veggie portion)! We could have healthier soft drink options like nimboo pani (lime juice)! This way we look into their health aspect too! When a place like Kidzania would inculcate the right eating habits to a child – imagine how much are we teaching them! Eating right – when embraced since childhood can prevent issues like obesity and other related health conditions in the future – like heart disease or diabetes. While we are educating them on so many other things, why not food too! This is just my opinion.

( I sent out this as a mail to KidZania HQ – Mexico & received a wonderful reply from them, to which I am even more glad that yes – it matters and makes a difference when people are giving their best to provide better to kids world over)

(This whole experience made me get into trying out some interesting – yum healthy recipes.. Experiments on.. will post pics soon.. 🙂 🙂 )

As I was writing this as a blog post it struck why should just KidZania do this? Why not every school do this? Schools are where, as kids we have learnt the most – not just from books, but from our teachers, friends, not-so-dear friends 😉 but, yes, experiences and memories – lots of them! So, what if every school inculcates this culture of eating right from when the child joins school, I can only imagine – how fit a generation will be now looking at!

And why just eating right – why not thinking right too – where they are guided and nurtured through enjoyable, thought stimulating and creative activities to help develop their creative talents in a subtle way, with the wisdom that children need in order to trust their inner voice.  It helps them to develop their character, and enhances their social and creative skills.  What if they are also taught to love and accept themselves right from that age? Don’t we build our response or responding system to our current environment, based on our previous experiences, more so as kids? When a child is taught to be gentle with him or herself; support, love, accept and honour themselves – wouldn’t it be just amazing? This would be in the true sense of the words – “An All Round Development” of the child. Think about it!

Pic from KidZania –

PIC1