Nutritionist Radhika Toshniwal answers some crucial questions about healthy diet
Mumbai: Rising awareness about overall health and well being has also led people undertaking a healthy diet and fitness routine. But they do realise how crucial it is it incorporate these little things in life, it remains a challenge due to the increasingly hectic lifestyle young people have to deal with.
The fast pace at which day-to-day activities need to be handled leave little room for cooking food at home. Eating outside mostly turns out to be consumption of junk food and focus on necessary nutrients suffers as result.
With a view to help young people get their daily supply of healthy home cooked food, nutritionist Radhika Toshniwal has come out with healthy recipes which are easy to cook. She has shared these ideas in her book titled ‘Positive Eating, A Guide To Everyday Health & Nutrition with Easy-to-Cook Recipes’.
As she intends to promote healthy eating habits for people living fast paced lives, she also shared her thoughts with us on some important questions concerning those looking forward to a healthy lifestyle. The author also shared her motivations for writing this book and cleared some misconceptions as well.
What led you to write the book. What will you say is its USP.
I write a nutrition blog, after many requests from my readers I was encouraged to compile a book with the articles and recipes. The USP is that the information is presented in a simple easy to read way, and the recipes are healthy, require no expert cooking skills and can be prepared in 5-10 min.
Despite the hectic lifestyle, do you feel the awareness regarding the need for a healthy diet is higher among the present generation (millennials) in comparison to their predecessors?
Yes. The present generation is aware that a healthy diet is important. However, there are a lot of myths and fad diets. Lifestyles are hectic and stressful, adequate sleep and time to eat a balanced diet seem like a luxury.
In the past, the awareness may be less, but lifestyles were simple, choices available were limited, so people ate fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits. Pre-packaged foods with preservatives and colouring were limited. Home cooked food, dining together and a stress-free life made the previous generation to lead a naturally healthy lifestyle.
In addition to the focus on a healthy diet, do you feel there is also a need for understanding nutrition in a more nuanced manner rather than just cutting down on calories?
Having a deeper understanding of nutrition helps to make informed choices.
With so many options available, it can be rather confusing. Reading the nutritional information provided on the back of packaged foods will help give you the information needed to make the right choices.
Yes, it is true that cutting down calories seems more important to people than eating healthy. All healthy food need not be low in calories and all diet food need not be healthy. Nutritional information helps one to make out the difference between these foods.
How do you feel about several crash diets and other dietary trends popular among young people? Are they beneficial in the long run?
I do not believe in crash diets. They may provide a temporary solution, mostly for weight loss but these diets are not sustainable. The weight lost returns sooner or later.
Crash diets are often not healthy as they do not provide all the nutrients our body needs. They work on elimination of certain foods.
Fad diets like Atkins, Keto diets etc are trendy and like crash diets, these diets are not sustainable in the long run.
A well-balanced diet eaten at regular timings and in reasonable proportions is a lifestyle to adopt.
One should stop eating when full and satisfied but not stuffed, feel like you could eat just another bite.
While your book makes cooking healthy meals easier, are there any healthier street food options in case someone has to grab a bite outside?
Today, many grab bite options are available. The increasing consciousness towards healthy eating has provided a lot of options easily available.
Online ordering and delivery services, salad bars, juice bars and cute coffee shops offer healthy dishes and snacks. Outlets are increasingly using ingredients like honey and ghee, quinoa, barley, kale, whole dals like lentils and beans, rajmah, channa, paneer, and chicken. Avocado toast is popular too.
Street food vendors have also become conscious of the demand for healthier options and they too provide whole-wheat bread for sandwiches. Our south Indian food available at every corner is healthy too.
Of course one can never be certain about the cleanliness and the manner in which the food is cooked.
What do you feel about the notion that a home-cooked Indian meal provides all the necessary nutrients for a healthy balanced diet?
Yes, I feel that our traditional thali is very healthy and balanced. A good combination of carbs and proteins, green vegetables, with healthy fats like ghee on the roti, some raw salad and a sweet. Thali's are colourful and can be a visual delight, triggering our senses and generating saliva. Different colours provide different antioxidants.
This meal also covers all the tastes, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent — at every meal. Each taste has an intimate relationship with the dosas and personal balance.
Which do you feel are the most common misconceptions among people regarding what they should avoid in order to eat healthily?
I feel that a lot of people believe that healthy food cannot be tasty.
This is not true. Healthy food is tastier and wholesome than junk food which leaves you feeling acidic later.
Healthy food can be prepared using herbs and spices to flavour them.
Avoid refined flour, fried foods, pre-packaged foods, foods with preservatives, colours, artificial flavours and artificial sweeteners.
Replace colas and sodas with vegetable juices, homemade lemonade, coconut water or best with water.
Be aware of added salts sugars in breakfast cereals, dips, sauces and hidden oils in pickles, trans-fats in biscuits.
While people try a number of health related trends, crash diets and fitness routines that often leave them exhausted, it turns out that simple changes in diet, focus on nutrition and quick healthy recipes can make all the difference.