All posts by admin

01 Sep

Give your body some time to heal

“The overuse of prescription drugs provides a vacation from personal responsibility.” ~ Bruce Lipton

Not just the overuse, I would say, often even the use of prescription drugs does the same. When a symptom comes ups, I advice patients to not rush to pop a pill.
Every bout of slight fever does not require a fever medicine.
Every ache does not require a pain-killer. Every sore throat or cough does not require an antibiotic.
Just giving your body rest, nutritious food and hydration, suffices to make the symptoms go away, in most cases. But not everyone has the patience for that.
Often when I tell some patients that they do not need any medicine yet, I get a look that says, “You’re a doctor, then why don’t you give me medicine?!!” Some of us are on a permanent vacation from taking responsibility for our health. We love giving away all the power to the doctor. It’s the easier way out .
Hope that’s not what you are doing.

21 Apr

How to organise a yoga session for your staff

 

yoga funny

 

If you’re the person responsible for the wellness of the staff in your organisation, then this post is specially for you. Because I’m sure at some time you will consider [or have already done so] organising a yoga event of some kind for them.

I regularly teach yoga to employees at corporates, in the form of on-going yoga classes, weekend retreats and 1-2 hour yoga sessions. Based on that, I would like to share with you some tips that you should give thought to while organising a yoga session so that it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.

1] Theme: Always have a theme for your session. This is important because then the trainer can tailor the session to the specific theme and stick to it. Also, people who have that particular issue will make sure they attend the session, will know what to expect and you will get maximum participation from employees. The theme can be something like sleeplessness, neck pain, lower back pain, acidity, improving concentration or the all-time-favourite ‘weight loss’. These are common issues and will draw good footfalls for your session.

2] Type of yoga: So you chose the trainer based on a friend’s recommendation, and sealed the deal because she fit your budget.  But do check on the style of yoga that the trainer specialises in. For corporates it’s best to choose someone with an experience in Hatha Yoga as that is the traditional form and will introduce your staff to the basics. It’s also the safest form of yoga, if done the correct way. I would say, resist the temptation to introduce power yoga as not everyone may be able to keep pace with it.

3] Level: Remember, some people who come for the yoga session may not even recall the last time they did any physical activity. For them, sitting crossed legged on the floor doing asanas will be a BIG challenge. Yet for others, they come to the session wanting to learn something new and challenging. So based on the theme, you can ask the trainer to start the session with beginner level poses and then move to intermediate level. For corporate yoga, advanced level poses can be left out.

4] Timing: All your efforts will go waste if you don’t pay attention to timing, date selection and informing your staff in advance. Make sure to not plan the session on month ends,  when the staff has more workload, or just before a long weekend. As for timing, best time  is in the evening around 4 – 5 pm. On the day of the session, send a reminder to the staff who have registered for the session, that they need to finish off their lunch at least 3 hours prior to the session. Keep at least 15 minutes after the session for people to cool down and also clear their doubts.

5] Attire: Corporate yoga does not need to be done in corporate wear. I have had people show up to the sessions in outfits like skirts, tight trousers and even saris. Insist on changing to work-out attire so they can move freely, comfortably and make the most of the session.

6] Mats: Yoga is no fun without a yoga mat, so your job is not over till you have organised for those. Where do you source them from? Check with the trainer if she can get a few, ask participants to carry theirs and you could also hire a few. If you are using a carpeted area, participants can carry a full length towel to be used in place of a mat and you are sorted.

7] Space: Whether you are using a large conference room, or the cafeteria is being converted to a make-shift yoga room, it will need some sprucing up. The floor will have to be absolutely clean and you can create an ambience by playing relaxing music and lighting aroma candles or incense. Make sure in whatever way you can that the session does not get disturbed by outside noises and others talking.

Corporate yoga sessions are organised in most offices, yet not everyone continues with the practice or enjoys the sessions. Often a little planning can go a long way in creating an impact on the wellness of your staff and improving their morale as well.

 

 

21 Apr

Vegan sugar-free gajar halwa

Preparing this dessert is a great work-out for your arms, with all the grating and stirring that it involves. But that does not stop me from making this again and again and again… and I bet you’ll say the same after you make it. So let’s get started.

Ingredients:

Red carrots: 1 kg

Coconut milk : 200ml [or of half coconut]

Cardamom powder : 2 tsp

Almonds, raisins, pistachios, cashews: as much as you like

Dates: 15 – 20

Dry dates or khareek: 10 [soaked in warm water for 30 minutes]

How to:

1] Wash, peel and grate the carrots.

2] Take a thick bottom vessel. Add the grated carrot and saute till the raw taste goes away. You may want to do this on medium heat so that it does not get burnt. Stir occasionally.

3] In the meantime, you can prepare the coconut milk and keep it ready. Grind half of a fresh coconut in the grinder. Add warm water to this. Let it stand for 10 – 15 minutes. Then strain it and you have your coconut milk. You can also save some grated coconut that remains after the milk is extracted and add it to the halwa later.  You can also use ready-to-use coconut milk, but fresh is better of course.

4] Also de-seed and puree the dates adding some water.

5] After the carrot loses enough moisture and reduces in quantity, then add the coconut milk, date paste, cardamom powder, khareek  and dry fruits. You can add the khareek either powdered or chopped. Now the arm work-out begins. To get perfect gajar halwa it’s best to cook this on a low flame and keep stirring. This easily takes about an hour and half.

6] Once the halwa dries up completely, you can add some of the grated coconut that you had saved while extracting coconut milk. And your healthy, guilt-free dessert is ready to be relished.

Tip:

You can adjust the number of dates and khareek as per your taste preference. If the carrots are sweet by themselves you will need to use less of these.

 

 

16 Mar

The quest for the perfect vegan gajar halwa

2016 started on a great note. I was one of the lucky few who got to attend the training programme for consultants with Dr Nandita Shah from SHARAN. I was part of this small but  vibrant group of doctors, from different streams of medicine, who were all passionate about healing diseases with food and lifestyle changes. The 2 days that we spent together were power packed with learning and also meeting patients who were committed to reversing their diseases through plant-based nutrition.

Another big highlight of the training course [as with any event organised by SHARAN] was the food! It was vegan, oil-free and oh so delicious.

On day 1 the dessert was vegan gajar halwa and day 2 was vegan chocolate ice-cream. To be honest, when I saw the gajar halwa, I thought to myself…. hmm… that looks like something I will skip. For me, if the healthier alternative to the real thing does not taste as good, or at least close to the real thing then I rather not have it altogether. I’m not one of those who can pretend to relish a lame attempt at matching up to the actual ‘unhealthy’ version of the dish.

BUT after I heard the oohs and wows from everyone else at the table I had to dig in. And truth be told, it was delicious!! Mayavi from My Pure Path sure has magic in her hands. I later discovered that this was ‘raw vegan gajar halwa’ that we were served. That explained its salad-like appearance. Soon there were recipes being shared across the table by those who had tried making this guilt-free dessert. It was so good that we gobbled it up during the evening snack time too. Here’s a photo that Dr Saravanan clicked before we demolished the dessert 😀

raw gajar halwa

Now I did get the recipe for the raw version but first happened to share it with a friend who tried it and told me it tasted great. On probing further she confessed that it tasted fine, but not great. What did that mean? “Well it does taste bit raw, but you can eat it if you warm it”   🙂  “But then it’s healthy na, it has to taste little different”, she added. I don’t know what was missing in our recipe, may be it was Mayavi’s magic touch.

And that’s when I decided to adapt the recipe and am mighty pleased with the final product  🙂 It’s dairy-free and sugar-free. So no milk, no ghee, no oil, no mawa and no sugar.

I will share the recipe in the next post. For now make do with the picture and thank you for your patience  😛

gajar halwa

 

 

 

08 Sep

The Seeker by Karan Bajaj

I recently read Karan Bajaj’s latest book The Seeker. It’s a spiritual journey of a Wall Street investment banker who gives up his job and life in New York to travel to India. As ground-work for writing this book, the author Karan and his wife Kerry actually took a year-long sabbatical and backpacked from Europe to India by road. Along their trip they also learned a lot of yoga, even became certified yoga trainer. They claimed to have even meditated in the Himalayas to get first hand experience of how it must be for the yogis. I enjoyed reading this book.

You can read my review of The Seeker here.

 

the seeker

 

19 Aug

How to move more in office

Our bodies were not meant to be seated [often in lousy postures!] in a chair all day long. Which is why, anyone who works in an office, must find a way to get more movement during their time there.

How you do that will depend on the type of office space you are in and what your day looks like. As consulting editor to Complete Wellbeing magazine I also spend a few hours of my day in an office, mostly working on a PC. Here I am sharing ideas that I use to make sure that I get some movement during my office hours. See if they work for you…

  1. Avoid the lift whenever possible and take the stairs. If you have some knee or hip pain, then you may have to take the lift. If your office is on a very high floor, you can still take the stairs for half the distance and then use the elevator. Get used to being starred at by those folks waiting for the lift, as you walk towards the staircase. They’ll look at you like you’re some nutcase, but you’ll get used to it.
  2. Take a break to go take a walk… at least twice. It’s better if these timings are fixed, if not, you will tend to forget once you get busy with work. If you decide in advance at what time you will be taking your walk-break you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Or use an app that will remind you when it’s time to get up from your seat. You can walk outside your office in the corridor or go down and again come up taking the stairs.
  3. Get a small bottle for water. Ditch the one litre bottle and keep a smaller bottle on your desk [250 -500ml]. This means you’ll have to walk to the pantry to refill your bottle at least twice a day. water-bottle-small
  4. If you’re speaking on your mobile, get up from your desk and walk around while talking.
  5. If you have to communicate with a colleague who is in office, avoid calling and walk up to the person’s desk instead.
  6. Do not eat at your desk. Even if it is just a snack. Get up and go to the pantry to eat.
  7. You can also do some stretching exercises on your desk and I’ll share those in another post soon. Most of them can be done discreetly without having to get up from your chair or make a display of your new found passion for fitness.
  8. When seated, make sure your posture is always correct. Back should be straight, shoulders relaxed, feet rested on the floor [or foot rest] and chin parallel to the ground.

These activities are only to give your body a break from sitting in the same position, in a cold environment for hours together. These do not make up for ‘exercise’. You still have to make time for that 🙂

14 Aug

The curse of the cramps

leg cramp

Yes, cramps can turn us into Ninjas.  Specially the cramps that occur in the calf muscles. Strangely these usually happen in sleep, during the early morning hours [that’s why they are called ‘night cramps’]. Sometimes they can also affect the feet.

I’ve had these cramps a few times and from my experience, when the cramp is happening, there’s not much you can do except try your best to not scream and wake the entire household or neighbourhood. For some people, stretching the muscle during the cramp gives relief, but I do not attempt anything so heroic. For me, the cramps have usually lasted for a few seconds [seem so much longer], so I just wait for them to pass and then I go back to sleep. Since night cramps are caused by some mineral deficiencies,  the morning after a cramp usually has me evaluating my diet to identify what I’ve been missing [or should be avoiding].

 

We can’t say with certainty that we know what causes cramps… but these could be the possible reasons:

  • Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium or Sodium deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Exercising [and not stretching your muscles enough]
  • Keeping feet in an awkward position for long
  • Diabetes, Alcoholism, Pregnancy, Hypothyroidism
  • Sudden change in temperature

 

What to do to prevent them

  • Hydrate: be sure to drink at least 2 litres of water per day
  • Nutrition: Include enough fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and also include enough sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium
  1.  Potassium: Bananas, spinach, mushrooms
  2. Calcium: Nuts, broccoli, sesame, almonds, spinach
  3. Magnesium:Nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, avaocados.
  •  Make sure to stretch your muscles well after a work-out and also stretch your feet before going to bed
  • Do not tuck your feet under a heavy blanket or tight sheets. Keeping your feet in the same position for long can cause muscle cramps
  • Take a vitamin E and magnesium supplement [also does wonders for your skin]
  • Massaging the calves and feet with magnesium enriched oil before sleeping also helps
  • Apple cider vinegar is also known to help prevent muscle cramps. Have two spoons a day or add it to your salad dressing
  • Get enough sunlight so that you are not low on vitamin D. Aim for sun exposure for 10 – 15 minutes 3 times a week, before 10am.

These are some of the things that help to reduce the frequency and intensity of cramps. Have you tried anything else that has worked for you?

09 Jul

To do a juice cleanse or not?

I recently did a one-day juice cleanse by the Raw Pressery and also wrote about it here. I received some queries by readers whether a juice cleanse is a viable solution to weight loss, increased cholesterol, or uncontrolled diabetes. Unfortunately, it is not.
This is what a juice cleanse can do for you
• Give your system a break from junk food, processed foods, overcooked food
• Give you a good dose of vitamins and minerals [good for skin, hair, immunity] for a day
• Introduce you to a healthy/clean way of eating
• Help you tune in to hunger/appetite signals of your body
Juice cleanses can make you feel great for a day [ or even 1-2 days after] but don’t expect miracles. Besides, any ‘lifestyle’ disease like obesity or diabetes will require a ‘lifestyle’ makeover.
Doing a juice cleanse or any detox diet is a good way to jump start your healthy eating habits. But you can’t do it to compensate for all the other days that you eat unhealthy.
What’s a better alternatives to detox/ cleansing diets?
Yes, instead of having 7 -8 glasses of juice on one day, like you would in a cleanse, have one glass of juice daily. So you can juice 2-3 of the following in any combination you like: spinach/kale/cucumber/bottle gourd/mint/ tomatoes/beet. Add some rock salt/ chaat masala/ lemon juice to improve the taste. Have it freshly prepared. It’s best to have this in the morning or when your stomach is relatively empty eg: evening instead of tea.

What to do if you have no time to make juice?

salad

Very simple–Have salad with both your meals or as a snack

You can combine fruits and vegetables to make a salad. For eg: grapes, apples, oranges, pomegranate, watermelon can be added to your regular vegetable salad.

Add almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds to the salad for protein and good fats.

To make it protein rich, add some cubes of paneer or boiled sprouts/ lentils to your salad and you’re sorted.