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Dieting Myths and Misconceptions Busted



Haven’t we heard our parents or grandparents say ‘no eating after 8 pm, avoid rice, bananas, meat and potatoes!’ Aren’t these the things your friends and relatives exclaimed when you expressed a wish to lose weight? And you ended up following their futile advice without even researching further or realising that it may not do you any good, but rather be detrimental sometimes.

Frankly speaking, we are served a number of myths when it comes to ‘dieting’ and that’s the reason why several weight watchers fail to achieve formidable results despite of being highly motivated. Let’s look at few such diet related misconceptions and their impact on our body.

Myth #1: Low fat = Low calorie

One of the biggest myths of all time. The fact that lot of people have believed this literally made up this falsity is the proof that we humans are actually quite naive. Low-fat diet simply doesn’t mean low-calorie diet and therefore it doesn’t give you the license to eat as much as you want. If you pile up your plate with low-fat farsan or savouries, you may end up eating more calories than what you normally would if you had a one serving of chips. In order to make products low in fat, manufacturers add substituting ingredients like flour, sugar, starch, etc. to improve taste and this adds calories. Therefore the best way to know about how healthy your food product is check the nutritional count at the back of each pack, and know how many calories, fat, sugar you intake.

Myth #2: Say no to rice, potatoes and bananas

Any Tom, Dick and Harry could easily put you off on these. Learn to make smart choices and include these foods regularly but in balance in your diet without letting them hamper your calorie count. For example, banana or two in the morning will not only provide you with a generous dose of potassium, fibre, vitamin C, etc. but will also provide you with simple form of energy viz glucose and fructose which will help you to keep going throughout the day. Similarly rice, whether brown or white, contains methionine which helps mobilise fat from the liver. All you have to do is maintain balance and just stop mindless eating and control portion size when it comes to eating rice based preparations.

Potatoes are loaded with nutrients too but we make it unhealthy by using faulty cooking treatments like deep frying to make chips, cutlet, French fries, etc from it. If included meticulously in diet it can protect against cardiovascular diseases and few types of cancers due to high potassium and Vitamin B6.

Myth #3: Late night meals are fattening

Obviously, weight a person gains is a result of what you eat throughout the day and not just at night. This might be true for people who keep skipping meals at day time and binge at night. The idea is to keep a gap of at least an hour before hitting bed and eat something light as you don’t need too many calories in the night.

Myth #4: Avoid eating outside food while dieting

Most fast foods are unhealthy but not all, and if you choose your options carefully you can include them in your healthy diet. Tips you can follow:

1. Avoid high-calorie toppings like cheese, butter, mayonnaise; instead you can go for salsa, garlic dip, etc.
2. Pick fresh fruit juice or milkshake rather than aerated drinks.
3. Choose salad based wraps and burgers.
4. Ask for steamed, baked or grilled items rather than deep fried. Now a days air-frying is also a cool option.
5. Try out fruit salad stalls rather than the regular unhygienic chaat selling hawkers.

Myth #5: Eat less, weigh less

If you eat less or skip meals you will end up binging later on when you feel extremely hungry. And therefore you gain more weight and your efforts get wasted. Moreover, if you keep yourself on extremely low-calorie diet for longer period of time, your metabolism gets altered and restricting yourself from essential nutrients also poses great health threats.

Myth #6: Say no to snacking

While mindless snacking can gift you with several extra kilos, thoughtful snacking can help you reduce several kilos. People who have small, frequent meals with snacks are more likely to get better weight loss results. Choose snacks which are low in calorie and high in protein and vitamins like fruits or salads without much dressing so that they can curb your hunger pangs in a healthy way.

Myth #7: Vegetarians are devoid of good protein sources

False, there are plenty options for vegetarians too. Include at least three servings of milk and milk products (one glass milk, one cup curd, 40g cottage cheese), two servings of pulses especially soybean, one serving of nuts to meet your protein requirement. Vegans also have amazing options and varieties available, recipes of which are all over the Internet.

Myth #8: Fast to nullify the feast

As ridiculous as it may seem, the idea to compensate your feast with fast is actually a mistake you wouldn’t want to make. When you eat larger meals than required, your body stores the extra fats in liver and when you skip you food, there is an urgent need of energy by the body and that is served by breaking muscle proteins because breaking down fat for energy is a long process and it doesn’t come into circulation that easily. Thus all your effort turns futile.

Myth #9: Eggs are unhealthy

If taken for breakfast, eggs help limit your calorie intake all day. Eggs are the best and reference source of protein along with several vitamins and minerals essential to your health like vitamins B2, B12, A, E, iron, zinc and phosphorus. Boiling an egg is one of the healthiest ways you can consume it and is the perfect option for those watching their weight. It would be wise to include one egg in your daily diet without bothering about cholesterol levels.

Myth #10: Fruits are the best breakfast option

No doubt fruits are rich in many vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates. But cereal is a better option when it comes to refuelling your body after a long gap because it contains complex carbohydrate and protein and a fibre. Ideal breakfast should contain a serving of cereal, milk or milk product, and a fruit.

Asian dieting approach is met by number of myths and misconceptions. Keeping a clear mind after the above clarifications, an approach of eating a balanced diet if adopted will faclitate in keeping you active throughout the day while bearing long term commendable results. After all who doesn’t love good health while having a shapely stature!

Written by Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya

Author is a young and energetic MD specialized in Immuno-hematology and Transfusion Medicine from Mumbai, India. Besides being from amongst the top performers since her med school days, she remains a humble and charitable human and Editor-in-chief at the Times of Youth.

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“Everyone in Pakistan is so friendly” -Jeremy McLellan



Biryani-loving comedian Jeremy McLellan is finally in Pakistan

McLellan is known for often writing about his love for biryani and his humourous commentary on American politics, immigration, Islamophobia and race. His understanding of Islam, diversity of Muslims and Pakistani culture has made him popular among Pakistanis and it’s not uncommon to see a myriad of comments from Muslims and Pakistanis on his Facebook status updates.

Jeremy Facebook Status Updates From Pakistan

Everyone in Pakistan is so friendly. If I accepted every offer I’ve received to come to people’s houses for dinner or tea I would be here for 10 years and gain 1,000 pounds.
Power keeps going out. Not a big deal for me, but whoever fixes the electrical grid would improve things by a lot.
I’m used to having a lot of personal space. Not much of that here. Takes a while to get used to. Thankfully it’s all friendly.
Weather is nice, especially on rooftops. Felt like Charleston. Way better than Dubai.
Dinner at Haveli was amazing, and the view of the Badshahi mosque took my breath away.
Finally got to see my reporter friend Usman from Pakistan Today who wrote the first articles about me in Pakistan. Great guy.
Jet lag made me sleep in too much. Hope to see more tomorrow. So far I love it.

“After two years of planning, two weeks of very little sleep, and two days of travel, I have now officially landed in Pakistan. What a blessed and fortunate life I have. Thank you to everyone. My body is tired but my heart is full.”

Dinner at Haveli Restaurant overlooking the Badshahi mosque.

Hanging out at Emporium in Lahore!

Jeremy McLellan Official Facebook Page

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Beat the Heat – tips and tricks to cool it this summer!



The cold winter months may come with its own set of headaches, but summer is no less. It’s a constant battle towards hydration, layered with the right portion of sun-block, all of this while trying to keep cool, mentally and physically.

Reports of increasing global warming make it seem that every summer the temperature is and would be getting harder to endure. Thus, as a medico and concerned citizen, I had to finally compile a list of DIY’s and other simple, efficient ways to keep one cool and happy during this hot season.

  1. Be Hydrated. As you lose water by perspiration, your body temperature rises. Replacing fluids is hence essential to keep the body cool. To replace the water that you lose by sweating, be sure to drink a lot of fluids, especially water and cool fruit juices. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar, which are dehydrating. Also opt for hydrating foods like a smoothie for lunch, and add more fresh fruits and vegetables to all your meals. Watermelon has the greatest water content as compared to all other foods.

  2. Eat light. The reason we reach for salads in the summer is owing to their easier digestibility than, say, a cheese pizza or lardaceous burgers, which leaves you feeling sluggish in the high heat. Instead, go for fruits and vegetables, which are water-rich and help keep you hydrated and cooler. You could also freeze tiny slices of your favorite fruits in ice cube trays with a little water and add to your regular glass of water later for mildly flavored water or simply suck on them for the cooling effect.

  3. Apply cold water. In order to lower body temperature by lowering the blood temperature in the veins directly, apply a bottle with ice-cold water on pulsation points like your ankles, wrists, or behind the knees.

  4. Breathe like Yogis. Feeling overheated again with no cold water around? No problem. Do a few minutes of yogic breathing by curling your tongue by pulling both side edges upward toward the middle forming an O, then breathe in through your mouth. Hold your breath, and slowly exhale through your nose. Repeat five to 10 times. This age old technique should help cool you naturally.

  5. Cool that Sheet. Put soft gel ice packs on top of the mattress and underneath the sheets; try under your legs, neck, or lower back for maximum comfort. You could also try freezing a cotton sock filled with rice, then slipping it between the sheets. The rice will hold a chill longer due to its starch content. Or just simply chill your bed by folding sheets and pillowcases, placing them in plastic bags, and sticking them in the freezer for a few hours to make up the bed just before you go to sleep for a sound slumber.

  6. DIY Air Cooler. Freeze a couple of water bottles or even a shallow bowl filled with ice and place in front of a floor or desk fan, and enjoy a pleasing breeze when the ice melts and evaporates with your makeshift air-conditioner/cooler. Adding salt to the water before freezing can beat the heat for longer period.

  7. Hello Aloe. Pick up an aloe vera plant from a local plant nursery and get some cut and peeled. Aloe vera gel has a cooling effect when applied on the sun burnt skin. After a long day under the sun it can naturally soothe sunburns without spoiling skin texture or any fear of side effects.

  8. Spice it up. If you’re already sweating, why would you want to sweat more? The answer lies in this explanation. Eating spicy food increases blood circulation and makes you sweat, so as the sweat dries, you’ll feel cooler and have some brief relief. The substance which produces the hot taste in chilies, capsaicin, encourages your body to sweat more without raising your body temperature. It is a tried and tested technique by people who have lived in scorching climates since ages!

  9. Put Up Sun Blockers. The air outside when dry and cooler than that inside, one can hang a damp sheet in an open window. Incoming air will be cooled by the evaporating water. Shutting curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white surface on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat passing into your home by as much as 40-45 percent.

  10. Squirt, Spritz. Keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator, and whenever its hot. squirt some cool goodness. For ideal thermal regulation, try to begin with wrists to quickly cool down the blood flowing through their veins. Spraying on some watery mist over your bed-sheets and room walls would also seemingly bring down the temperature of the room immediately for a while. Take it from me, it is a wonderful experience!

  11. Fan it right. If the day’s heat is trapped inside your home, try a little ventilation at night. A window fan with blades facing outside sucks warm air out of the house and pulls cooler air in. Attaching frozen water bottles on the back of the fan will accentuate the coolness further.

  12. Dress right. Coolmax and Nano-Tex are not just for athletes anymore. Wear one of the widely available synthetic fabrics designed to wick away sweat and that sticky feeling. If cotton is preferred, it should be thin, light colored, and, most of all, loose. The best thing is to have sweat evaporate directly from skin to air, the next best thing is for the sweat to move quickly from your skin to clothing and then evaporate. Loose, billowy clothes allow air movement next to the skin and help with sweat evaporation, and thus cool the body.

13.Think Cool. Relax with A Winter’s Tale, The Call of the Wild, Doctor Zhivago, or Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Reading about cold can take your mind off the heat, evoking one’s own experience of ice and snow. Could say it is like a bit of self-hypnosis. Although this needs a little determination, but may be mastered by constancy.

Written by 
Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya

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‘Health is Wealth’ – Explained



As the old saying goes ‘health is wealth’, have you ever wondered why they say so? Mahatma Gandhi also says, “It is health which is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver”. So basically, it means that there is nothing in our life that is more valuable than good health. Health is more valuable than money, as the latter can never buy healthiness and happiness. But a healthy person remains in a state of bliss despite of being poor. Without health there is no happiness, no peace and no success. A person with bad health cannot enjoy the pleasure of being wealthy.

By health we do not mean the absence of physical troubles only. WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Thus, a healthy person is completely free from any illness or injury. A person with sound health enjoys a stability that also includes a healthy mental condition. Our health depends upon several factors, such as food habits, hygiene, fetishes, pollution, sleeping habits, mental condition, air, water, sunlight etc. Some of them are elaborated further below.

Importance of light, air and water: Fresh air and sunlight are very important for our health. Brisk morning walks are very helpful for the fitness of our mind and body. Breathing the fresh air each morning rejuvenates the mind and soul and surmounts the energy that one would need to keep going throughout the day. Sunlight helps our body to produce vitamin-D. A dirty and damp atmosphere breeds a lot of diseases. Fresh and pure drinking water is also necessary for good health. Impure drinking water causes many ailments. So, we must take care of these things.

Food:  Good food, too, is essential for the body. A healthy fiber-filled breakfast each morning is imperative for a good start of the day. Fiber rich foods such as oats, whole grain wheat, bran rice, etc. help us improve our digestive system. Nutritious foods helps us to maintain good health. We all should know, how, when and what to eat.
We should always include a portion of green vegetables, fresh fruits or salads with minimal dressing in our meal. All of these are sources of vital macro and micro nutrients. A balanced and nutritious diet helps the proper growth of the body. But we must remember that we eat to live and not that we live to eat.

Physical exercise and sports: We all know the proverb, “A sound mind in a sound body”. In order to keep the body healthy, we need to keep the mind sound. Physical exercises keep us fit. There are varous kinds of physical exercises. We may walk a kilometer or two every day. We may take some yogic or aerobic exercises or even zumba, dancing and swimming. At the same, games and sports are very useful for health.

Cleanliness: Cleanliness is crucial for good health. Without cleanliness, it is very difficult to maintain fitness. We should clean our house and the surrounding areas every day. Alhough bathing  should ideally be twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, yet once atleast is mandatory. After eating food, we should clean our hands with soap. Various types of diseases erupts from unclean surroundings. We should always throw the garbage in the dustbin. Cleanliness is the key to great health.

Some rules of hygiene: We must know some simple rules of hygiene. Our house must be airy and sunny. Apart from all this, we must form good habits. We should keep ourselves free from  unwanted cares and anxieties. Early rising and early to bed is equally necessary for good health. So we must try to keep fit.

We should take proper care of our health so that we can enjoy our life completely because when we are ill, we do not want to play or work. Our bad health robs us of our daily efficiency, sound sleep and appetite. Life becomes a burden if one  is constantly ailing. Life is left with little charm then. He feels tired of life, always bickering about one thing or the other. On the other hand, one with good health enjoys his life. A healthy person is mindful of all food he eats and enjoys sound sleep.  A healthy person is able enough to sing the glory of life and works hard to realize his dreams. He is cheerful and hardly complains. He may be poor, with limited income and may have to work very hard to earn a living, but even the richest man if ill would envy him for his good health and cheerfulness. A  person with sound health can lead a happy and enjoyable life. A rich person can afford various luxuries of life such as a costly car, posh house, branded accessories, air-conditioners, good furniture, trendy clothes, delicacy foods etc. But, he can enjoy these luxuries only if his health is good. Health is, thus, definitely much more important than wealth. Health is a greatest treasure and  the highest blessing.

Let us plan now to cherish the health we are blessed with, and try to give this gift to all we know so they, too, would enjoy the wonders of this life while being grateful.

Written by Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya

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