Food, Lifestyle

Clearing Constipation with lifestyle changes

Constipation is an issue that has become very prevalent in recent times. This is primarily due to the sedentary life that we lead and the processed/refined foods that we eat . Missing or not excreting our wastes in the morning can result in physical and mental discomfort like irritiability, bloating, low energy levels, and if continued onto long term can cause acne, hairloss, bad breath, impaired immunity, nutrient deficiencies and more.

Using laxatives that are available over the counter is not a solution as it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Moreover, using laxatives over a long term can lead to colonic infections, electrolyte imbalance and mineral deficiencies.

Let’s look at some of the root causes of constipation and their remedies.

Wrong diet

Overeating , eating when not hungry , eating mindlessly when bored or stressed, not drinking enough water, eating late at night, consuming heavy ,refined ,fried and processed foods like chips, juices, bread, popcorn, donuts, cakes, meat and other items made with refined flour etc can lead to constipation.

Remedies

  • Eat only when hungry.
  • Drink 2 glasses of warm to hot water as soon as you wake up. Using coffee , stimulants or tea for this will not only create addiction and dependence, but also nutritional deficiencies.
  • Eat light, warm and moderately spiced freshly cooked foods.
  • Eat a light dinner before 7pm and avoid cheese, refined foods, sweets, paneer, meat and fried food for dinner.
  • Consume foods that naturally has fibre and are unprocessed like raisins, prunes, dates, fresh fruits, cooked vegetables and not refined and packaged foods with added fibre – biscuits, cookies, breads, juices etc.
  • Include good fats like coconut/ ghee/ sesame with every meal.
  • Avoid cold and raw foods likes salads and green smoothies.
  • Drink warm water often , enough to make sure your urine is clear- mild yellow.

Stress

When we get stressed, more blood is pumped to our limbs than our digestive system as part of the flight or fight mechanism. Hence digestion, absorption, assimilation and excretion will not be optimal and partially digested food starts building up in the digestive system. Stress can also reduce your insulin sensitivity and metabolism.

Remedies

  • Do not focus on food to divert your stress.
  • Deep breathing exercises and some yoga poses like viparita karani, Vajrasana etc will help improve the blood flow the intestines.
  • Focus on destressing activities that will also make you physically active to help you relax.

Sleep

Poor quality or insufficient sleep due to night outs, sleeping late etc also affects excretion. Sleep is the biggest detox program that we get on a daily basis and if that is compromised, the toxins and wastes stay in our system i.e excretion doesn’t happen. Read more about how to improve your sleep quality.

Remedies

  • Have a relaxing evening routine to help you go to bed early.
  • Fix a regular bed time , closer to 10pm and stick to it.
Clearing constipation with simple lifestyle changes

Inactivity

We need to move well to move wastes out of our system. It is not just about working out everyday for 30 minutes, but also about moving often through the day. This will improve our blood circulation, metabolism and digestion.

Remedies

  • Workout for atleast 30-45 minutes everyday or 5 days a week. Include strength training, cardio and yoga .
  • Move around for 3 minutes once every 30 minutes.

Medications

Certain medications like antibiotics, pain killers, iron supplements etc are known to cause constipation. Antibiotics should be used as a last resort as using it often can give rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria and also destroy a good part of our gut bacteria , which can take 6-12 months to get replenished.

Remedies

  • Focus on getting nutrients and nourishment from whole food sources and not isolated supplements.
  • Consume buttermilk everyday for a few weeks following the consumption of antibiotics.

Resolving constipation like any other health problem becomes easy once we know the root cause and its triggers. Treating health issues with over-the-counter medications doesn’t solve the issue and could complicate it with unwanted side effects.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Pregnancy, Motherhood and Body changes.

 

We have seen advertisements and posters of happy babies with their moms in media and hospitals. Every mother knows pregnancy and motherhood is not easy as the pictures and posters portray. Nevertheless, it is still a truly rewarding experience.

This post is meant to bust some myths and to make moms understand the reality and facts around motherhood and pregnancy.

 

I need to have a baby before I turn 30.                     

Reality –  Don’t have a deadline. Stress will reduce fertility levels and mess up with hormones.

Things may not always go as per your plan while having a baby.  The more you focus/stress on this deadline, higher the chance of not achieving it.

Remember, the baby will form when the nature knows you are happy, healthy and ready to receive and nourish a life.

 

Your tummy is too high/low/small/big.

Reality  – These comments will be heard by most moms. Each one’s body and each baby is different. 

Someone’s tummy might be high, some low, some moms have smaller bumps and some have it big. The shape of the tummy and how it looks cannot be decided or controlled by the mom or anyone around. It is what it is.

People comment about tummy size and body shapes because they don’t realise how foolish it is to comment on a pregnant woman/new mom.

Do not feel bad when people comment on tummy size and body shape. Just smile at their stupidity and move on. What matters for the child inside is to have a happy, healthy and confident mom. The shape of the tummy doesn’t matter.

 

I am anyway going to gain a lot of weight, so I can indulge in whatever I want now.

Reality – You are going to gain a lot of fat – and it is for a reason, But do it the right way.

The body will store fat in  the breasts and hips for a reason – To protect and nourish the baby while it is inside and once it is born.

Eating junk /processed /packaged food during pregnancy will not only make it harder to lose weight later, but also not provide nourishment to the baby and your body. It will also put you at a higher risk for gestational diabetes and thyroid disorders during or post pregnancy. Moreover, your food habits during pregnancy will decide the baby’s eating habits too.

If you are craving for processed/packaged food it is a sign that you are deficient in micronutrients and not getting enough nourishment.
Pregnancy and postpartum are the time one should focus more on eating fresh nourishing, nutritious and balanced food. You need to have enough nutrients to nourish the baby for ten months, feed them for a year after that and then take care of them for several years.

Eating fresh and nourishing food during pregnancy will make it easy for you to burn all the fat that you will gained. The nourishing nutritious pregnancy foods will also help you produce more breast milk.

 

 I haven’t lost the pregnancy weight yet.

Reality- You won’t go back to your pre pregnancy shape immediately after the baby is born.

Don’t try and squeeze yourself into your old/pre pregnancy dresses soon after delivery. It took ten months for a baby to grow inside you. Your body and internal organs have gone through a lot of changes to adapt to that situation. It cannot be reversed within a few days post-delivery.

Be patient and also be careful and mindful about what you eat. More importantly, don’t let the thoughts of weight loss eat you.

 

I need to lose weight by my baby’s first birthday.

Reality – No one is going to make you stand on a weighing scale on your baby’s birthday party and reward you accordingly.

Do not look for a diet plan that can shrink you to fit into your old clothes. Just like life post baby is not the same as pre baby, your body is not the same as what it was in pre pregnancy. Accept and embrace the changes you go through.

Focus on eating balanced food, start working out three months post-delivery.

Exercise will soon become your best friend when you realise you can focus on just yourself for 45 minutes a day.  It will ensure you will regain your core strength and muscle mass that is lost with a baby birth. Workout will also make you strong mentally and physically so that you can deal with the chores without complaining about back pain and tiredness. It will also help you be a happy and healthy mom.

So either people will be in awe that you look young and amazing on your baby’s first birthday or you will have the confidence to reply to them if they happen to make any hurtful comments.

 

I want to be a Supermom

Reality – There is no supermom in this world !!!  

Motherhood makes us mentally and physically strong. However, it also burdens us with all unrealistic societal expectations that most moms feel they are obliged to fulfil.

Balancing career, family, and finances, volunteering for the child’s school projects, keeping up with everyone in family and social media, traveling, household chores and the list of things that are expected from mothers now are endless. While fulfilling all or most of these, what most moms forget is to take care of themselves. The result of that is fatigue, exhaustion , hypothyroidism and health issues closer to menopause.

Remember this – moms can do anything, but not everything.

Prioritize what’s important and essential. Focus on those and learn to delegate or outsource things that doesn’t need your absolute attention.

Pregnancy and motherhood is rewarding and equally taxing. We can make it a pleasurable experience only if we accept the changes in our body and life as it is without the unwanted and unrealistic expectations.

 

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Lifestyle

How to stay healthy and sane during this insane period?

 

The world is going through an unprecedented phase and no one is certain about how and when this pandemic and crisis will end. Nothing is the same as it was a few months ago. Lives, outlooks, routines and many other things have changed drastically.

With no end in sight, we have to get on with life and remain sane. Lot’s of people have asked me how can we remain healthy during this insane period? Here are a few points that we should do.

  1. A strict NO to ultra-processed and junk food in the house.


    You can’t let a rat in and then complain about it damaging the house. Since everyone is home and the tendency to raid kitchen and fridge is more than normal, the easiest way to stay healthy is to not allow any processed food ino the house.

    Articles of bread, chips, instant noodles and other processed food flying off the grocery store shelves tells us how ignorant and negligent we have become about our immunity and health.
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    Healthy snack -home made ragi balls
    Keep healthy , wholesome and homemade snacks reachable.  Fruits, nuts and seeds, lime juice, buttermilk etc are simple and healthy options.
  2. Don’t try any new- name diet

    Let’s ditch fancy diets all together and stick to a balanced traditional diet that consists of grains/millets, pulses/legumes, veggies and good fat. Any traditional Indian meal will comply with this. Sambar rice, khichdi, Pongal, roti/dal/sabzi etc are all balanced and easy to cook.

    IMG_20200417_133426
    Balanced plate – Grains, legumes, vegetables and good fat

    Trying out new diets now and stressing yourself out if you are not able to stick with it (because of  the limited grocery supply that we have during this pandemic ), is not worth it.

    Confused about portion control for balanced plate? Try mindful eating.

  3. Workouts need not be only in the gym

    Just because the gym is closed doesn’t mean you need to skip the workout. Physical activity and workout are equally important to improve and maintain immunity and energy levels.

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    Wall sit – Strengthens core and lower body

    Burpees, climbing stairs, squats, lunges, leg raises, pushups, pull ups, wall sit, planks, tricep dips, bear crawl, suryanamaskar , yoga and the list of body weight workouts that you can do are endless.

  4. Pranayama is the need of the hour

    Stress is a standalone factor that can hamper immunity, metabolism, fat burn, hormonal balance and health. Deep and meditative breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress levels which in turn can improve all the above-mentioned parameters.

    You can try breathing deeply even when you are reading this article.

  5. Improve your immunity

    Stick to wholesome, fresh and home made food that also includes spices like ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric , pepper and the other Indian spices. Sipping warm water through the day, avoiding food that is cold and old, having a spoon of chavanaprash in the morning, getting atleast 30 minutes of direct sunlight everyday are all good ways of improving immunity.

    Blending everything into a smoothie doesn’t give the same benefit or serve the purpose.

  6. Routine – most important and most neglected

    Since there is no real hurry to wake up early and rush to office or school due to the sleep cycles have started getting distorted.

    Bedtime, sleep quality and quantity are as important to immunity, mood and metabolism as food. 7-8 hours of sleep is essential for optimal performance  of our body and health. However, sleeping for 7 hours from 1am – 8 am is not the same as sleeping from 10pm- 5am. Try and stick to a regular routine and bedtime closer to 10PM.

    If you are interested in binge watching at night , remind yourself that the same series is available in the day time too.

  7. Ditch the scale

    There is already so much chaos in this period and you don’t have to add fuel to the fire by checking your weight often. Besides, body weight and BMI are not accurate parameters of health.

    Your energy level, body composition/body fat, sleep quality, and skin clarity can talk a lot about your health than your weighing scale

  8. Ask for help from family

    This is a good time to teach cooking to children and spouse, and share your chores. Not only will you get help and respect for what you are doing on a regular basis, but it will also reduce their screen time and increase happiness in the family. Cooking is a lifeskill. This is a great time to learn it.

    Your Child/their spouse will be grateful about it when they grow up.  

 

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