Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Plan for Jan

Happy New Year! I'm glad 2015 is here with a blank slate, and I hope it will be sprinkled liberally with joyful and meaningful moments for you and for me.

I've read of people who, instead of making resolutions, adopt a word or an overarching theme for the new year. It is a great way to help steer one's life in the direction you want to go. I thought about it a little bit and chose the theme Nupur 2.0 for this year. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss goes like this: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” So the goal is to listen to what my body needs and revise my habits to be more true to myself.

In more concrete terms, I'm going to be working on one major goal every month. Based on my family's medical history and my personal medical history that I've talked about before which points to insulin resistance, the most urgent change for me is to stop eating excess carbs. Other factors are important too- getting enough sleep, managing stress, exercising regularly- but this is the critical one. Without making this change, the rest won't matter much.

As far as cutting out excess carbs goes, I'm aiming for the low hanging fruit, so to speak. The stuff that is mostly empty carbs and that I tend to eat too much of- rice, bread, parathas, tortillas, noodles and pasta. These will be replaced by vegetables and more vegetables, both raw and cooked. I happen to love vegetables so this is no hardship. Beans and lentils, nuts and seeds are all in. Beans, legumes and some veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes have an abundance of nutrition even if they are carb-heavy, and if I'm cutting down on the other starches, then I have room in my "budget" for these. The idea is not to cut out carbs altogether but to bring them down to a level that my body can handle.

I'll continue to eat eggs and some dairy- mostly homemade yogurt and some butter, ghee and cheese which I use mostly as flavoring. And I occasionally eat tofu and meat substitutes as well.

Here are some examples of swaps I've been making in December, replacing carb-heavy staples with vegetables.

Our lunch consists of leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Often, my lunchbox would have rice, dal with pickle on the side. Here's version 2.0: garlickly moong dal with a large helping of roasted broccoli and squash and the requisite dollop of pickle. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not miss the rice at all.




Rajma (kidney bean curry) and tortillas are a popular dinner option at my home. On that day, a friend left on a long vacation and stopped by with a big bag of produce that he'd cleaned out from his fridge- could I please use it up so it would not be wasted? The bag contained lettuce, cucumbers and peppers among other things. So I skipped the tortillas and spooned the rajma on a giant salad, dressed simply with lemon juice, salt and pepper. This I expected would taste really weird. It was surprisingly tasty- the hot rajma wilted the lettuce a bit, and everything was juicy and delicious. I thought I would eat seconds but could barely finish this bowl.



Fried egg is one of my favorite breakfasts. Instead of eating it with a couple slices of toast or a whole grain tortilla, I took half an avocado, mashed it with a fork and stirred in a pinch of salt and some hot sauce. I had some salad left over (this was the morning after the rajma dinner) and ate that on the side. This was a great way to start the day.




Another favorite meal at my place is noodle stir fry with vegetables and tofu. For version 2.0, I skipped the noodles, and used broccoli slaw instead. Broccoli slaw is sold in packages in the produce section of US supermarkets- it is basically shredded broccoli stems, sometimes with carrots and red cabbage. I was pleased at how much the sautéed slaw resembled the texture of noodles. The whole meal was a snap to put together and very satisfying.

All this month, I will continue these swaps and pay attention to my mood and energy levels, my hunger and cravings, and to my weight and waist size. I've taken some "before" measurements so I have something to compare to. The idea is to make the changes, see if they work and adjust as necessary.

How did you ring in the new year? What are your hopes and dreams for 2015? 

46 comments:

  1. Thank you for this excellent post Nupur! I've been a silent consumer of your blog in the past few years and I'm a fan of everything you make (In fact I just made your Pav Bhaji recipe day before yesterday). This post comes at an excellent time because cutting carbs is an important priority for me this year. A big change that I made to my diet in 2014 included cutting major sugar sources and this happened to be exactly what my body needed at the time. Please keep posting your progress in this goal from time to time - It will be good to hear about what worked for you and what didn't! And also .. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nisha- Happy New Year to you too! I definitely plan to talk about what worked and what did not work for me, and hope that readers will chime in and share their own stories of what works for them.

      Delete
  2. wow this was good. But arent carbs suppose to be part of diet too?
    Are you looking at carbs from legumes( which do have) take care of that in a meal?
    -sachita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sachita- Yes, carbs are fuel for the body but my problem is that I was eating way too much of them, considering that I am not active enough to require large amounts of fuel. Carbs from legumes and sweet potatoes etc. are taking care of my carb requirements. I'm trying to identify the sweet spot where I eat enough carbs for my needs but not more than I need.

      Delete
  3. How lovely Nupur! All those meals made me drool literally all over your blog and am still at it as I write:-) I'm def. going to get my mum in India to eat this way now on even if it means she has to drive a little distance to stock up on good veggies(her bane is that Goa doesn't get an abundance of good, fresh veggies. Surprising eh, given that Goa used to be otherwise so green all around?!?). Also, I've been getting her to take 1 tsp of lightly roasted methi seeds with a mug or warm/lukewarm water every morning on an empty stomach and it has in a month and half brought down her sugar levels to a very manageable levels without any other major dietary changes. This is a well documented diabetes/insulin management technique listed in ayurvedic texts but one that she wasn't getting around to doing even though she knew all about it for ages. But so far so good.

    Another "carb" like option for you is miracle noodles. You can research them online and see if they would work for you as a substitute. I think one gets them even at Whole Foods although do check the ingredients label first if you check them out there. I use them in my meals as I am on a gluten free diet due to severe digestive issues for the past three years and they are pretty tasty when done well with spices and veggies.

    BTW I did manage to kick a bad sugar habit myself this year so here's a small yay to me:-) I used to yearn for something sugary at the end of the day and binge almost every night on condensed milk or a medium sized tub of ice cream telling myself it wasn't much but it was taking a toll on my already weak digestive system not to mention a big no no for cancer patients.

    I will be silently and not so silently:-) cheering you on in your mini missions to change your dietary and lifestyle habits this year. Love to you, little Lila, Duncan and the Hubby:-)

    Deepa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deepa- Thanks for this note and for cheering me on, I truly appreciate that! I have heard about fenugreek seeds and I'm glad they are helping your mom.

      For your mother, going the extra step to buy fresh veggies and eat more koshimbir (salads) and subzis will be well worth it.

      Also, shirataki (miracle) noodles are on my list of things to try, but I am really happy to have found slaw noodles as well. Congrats on managing the sugar habit!

      Delete
    2. Hi Deepa, should the methi seeds be consumed whole or should it be powdered?

      Delete
  4. I am a regular reader of your blog. Thanks for all the lovely recipes which I refer to and cook from time to time.Please continue to post recipes and if possible, meal plans for diabetics as my husband is one.
    Happy 2015!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll definitely post recipes of this sort, but please note that I am not a physician or a nutritionist so I can't possibly post meal plans for diabetics. Having said that, I hope you and your husband will do lots of reading and your own research to figure out what works best for him- best wishes to you both!

      Delete
  5. Wish you a happy and healthy new year, Nupur.
    I wish I were that strong, after a few days I crave ( rather desperately) some thing 'chewy' like fulkas or rice, with daal and veggies and my resolution crumbles. But, I'll try again ( and again).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wishing you a wonderful new year too, Manasi. I want to remind you that none of this has anything to do with being strong or having willpower. It is all about biochemistry and a physical carb addiction that comes from having eaten this way all our lives. It can be overcome slowly. It does not have to be an all or nothing thing. Indeed a slow and easy change is more likely to be a permanent one.

      Perhaps you could cut carbs by half in each meal rather than eliminating them altogether (replacing that portion with your favorite non-starchy vegetable dish). Perhaps you could eat fewer carbs during the week and eat the "normal" way on the weekends. Or eat fewer carbs for 2 of the 3 meals every day. I think the important thing is to try different things till you find something you can live with and actually enjoy.

      Delete
  6. It's long time we peeked into ur food diary...
    If u don't mind.it would be encouraging for many of us to mind our dietary habits. Ur pav bhaji recipe is super hit in our home and is often made..thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad the pav bhaji recipe worked for you!

      Delete
  7. Thanks for sharing these ideas Nupur. Wishing you every success for the year 2015.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I did try cutting out on rotis and rice. And eating only legumes and salads and veggies. But I started getting a lot of gas and bloating. I now eat a limited amount of rotis or rice for a meal with more veggies and salad. Cutting down on all of rice helped me a lot. Ilast year I read rujuta diveker s book and i noticed a lot of change after following her tips. Good luck to you !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found the balance that works for you!

      Delete
  9. Hi Nupur!

    My husband and I are also planning on doing something similar. One thing I've read though is, if you're a vegetarian, any beans or dals make a complete protein only if you pair them with a grain. So for eg, dal by itself lacks certain amino acids which are the building blocks for protein. But, rice has those missing amino acids, Pair them together and you have a complete source of protein. You could pair your beans with corn, since it is technically a grain.
    I find that the problem with rice is, unlike rotis where you can limit yourself to 2 or 3 per meal, rice usually is never measured and tends to be over eaten. But, if you measure out a small vaati of it, it should provide you with the nutrition without the extra carbs. Maybe switch to brown rice instead.
    I'm also aiming to this year be more mindful about things like soaking, sprouting, fermenting things properly. So, soaking my grains, beans and dals at least 12 hours before cooking etc. I'm completely cutting out dairy (except ghee) in January because it does create issues for me, I will slowly add yogurt back in but, no more milk for me.
    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015!!

    -Anu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anu- Happy New Year to you too and thanks for this note!

      The whole deal with combining plant foods to make complete protein has been debunked long ago. You do not need to pair foods or anything of the sort. Here are a couple of well-written articles about this.
      http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-myth-of-complementary-protein/
      http://www.strongvegan.net/the-complete-protein-myth.html

      I do believe we should all do what we think to be the best for ourselves! It is good to discuss these ideas.

      Delete
    2. That's very freeing actually, thanks for the links!!

      -Anu

      Delete
  10. All these recipes look so delish and healthy, nupur! My short term goal is to exercise each and every day for the month of January. This is with the aim of getting back into some exercise routine (which I had, and used to love). Once I re-establish this routine, I will cut down to exercising 4-5 days/week. Lets see how it goes. I have seen that for me, exercising regularly and eating everything (including carbs of all kinds, fats, sweets) in moderation works better for my overall mood and energy. For me, more than carbs, which I can easily limit, the problem area is chocolates. Hence, I have stopped grazing on them mindlessly, and limit them only if they are worth the calories (read, a decadent dessert one day/week). Hope you reach all your dietary and health related goals this year! Happy new year to you and your lovely family :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great goal, Neha and I wish you all the luck with it! I've also been trying to get in some activity every single day. It is good to identify one's problem area because then you can do something about it. And you are well on your way to doing that. Happy New Year to you and yours!

      Delete
  11. Hi Nupur,
    I am in a pretty similar boat as you as I was detected with a hormonal imbalance causing me to be susceptible to insulin resistance and have been asked by my doctor to have a low carb high protein/fiber diet. I love bread/ pasta/ chapati and it is a tough job to avoid them, for now I am resorting to avoid rice/pasta/bread from my diet and trying to stick to lean proteins and veggies as much as I can. Working out is for sure crucial and it is something I need to get regular at. Knowing that there are others going through a similar experience is reassuring and I hope we all come through it with a positive change!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many of us are going through similar experiences- we can do it together for sure. It is not easy to change eating habits of decades but positive changes can be introduced slowly and the palate can be retrained. Hang in there- best wishes to you!

      Delete
  12. Happy New Year, darling Nupur! Hope 2015 is filled with love, laughter, wisdom and health for all of you...

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure it will inspire many readers to take the next step to health and wellness.

    My husband has also been talking lately about reducing our carb intake. It has not been a challenge, really... because we don't eat many carbs to begin with.

    We avoid wheat mostly, so that helps in the carb-reduction endeavor. I cook lunch each morning to take to work. It is a simple combination of brown rice, dal and a vegetable sabzi. Rice is a small part of the meal anyway. Our dal and sabzi portions are much larger.

    Breakfast is a combination of soaked dried fruit (apricots, dates, figs, prunes) and nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts). It is yummy! Plus, it keeps us sated until lunch time.

    I don't make wheat rotis at home. I do keep bajra/jowar atta handy for making bhakris/theplas occasionally. We like the taste of brown rice so much that white rice feels tasteless and pasty in the mouth. I do use basmati rice for the occasional pulao/biryani treat. We eat khichdi at least once a week, and in place of rice, I use millet or whole bajri.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the sweet wishes, dear Lakshmi and I hope you have a wonderful year too! You guys are already eating well, enjoying nutrient dense whole foods. Good for you!

      Delete
  13. Hi Nupur,

    As an Indian vegetarian you have to get very creative to reduce carbs and hence thank you for sharing your healthy meal ideas. They are very motivating for me!

    Best,
    SN

    ReplyDelete
  14. Can you please post the recipe of the noodles stir-fry?

    My food related goal is just to make sure that my portion size of the vegetables match that of the main rice/roti. That's my beginners carb reduction step. Also, as a new owner of a blendtec, I make some quick green smoothies in the morning, thus making my breakfast carb free.

    Good luck with your goals Nupur. We're cheering you here and I'm sure you'll come out a lot more healthier in 2015.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll definitely post the recipe for the noodle stir-fry- it wasn't much of a recipe, more of add-some-of-this-and-that, but I think I remember what I put in. I love your food-related goal, by the way, it is specific an it is manageable. Good luck to you and thanks so much for cheering me on!

      Delete
  15. Hi Nupur, thanks for the inspiring recipes. All the flavor with reduced carbs - I can get behind this. Do you cook extra dishes for your daughter or does she eat components of your meal? We have been cooking separately for my son so far but think it is time to have him eat what we are eating. That is one of my roadblocks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sorry, forgot to append a name.

    - rainee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rainee- I've never cooked separate meals for my daughter ever. She just eats whatever she likes out of what I make for the whole family.

      Delete
  17. Inspiring!

    A bit tangential but I thought I'd share in the spirit of developing healthy habits:

    So there’s this app called my fitness pal that I’ve been using to log whatever I eat off and on since I think 2011 or so.. but never consistently, I’ll do it scrupulously for a week or so then I’ll get bored or busy or both and stop. Recently came across an idea on the interwebbz called “preplanning” . Basically, makes you commit to the day’s eating beforehand so you don’t deviate.

    I thought that’s a genius idea.

    Anyway today made myself what I thought was a rather healthy salad and a wrap for lunch. (based on the sprouted ezekiel wraps)Now when I added up all the little ingredients that went into it while it was still healthy, it was also actually quite substantial calorifically. In fact, it was actually more substantial than I thought it was.

    So am planning to log everything that passes my lips haha more meticulously so I don’t casually start lying to myself.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janani- Yes, there is truth in the tendency to casually lie to oneself. Major pitfall. And I think I've been doing some of the "preplanning" without even realizing it, in the sense that I think every morning about what the day looks like, and if we are going out for dinner, then I know to be more careful with breakfast and lunch so I indulge more at dinner.

      Delete
  18. I'm looking forward to seeing Nupur 2.0!!! I would love the Rajma recipe....it looks magnificent!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Frances :) The rajma recipe is here. Instead of a pressure cooker and dried beans, you can do steps 2 to 4 in a saucepan and just add 2 cans of drained, rinsed kidney beans. It is a simple recipe with very few ingredients.

      Delete
  19. Nice substitution ideas. I'm looking for hearty soup based recipes for lunch. I have a few recipes but I'm looking to add to them. I usually have salad in the summer for lunch. I eat rice at night but limit myself to the recommended serving size for diabetics even though I am not.
    I have a few resolutions for this year but some are continuations of my previous years goals:
    1) drink at least 65 oz of water every day ( excluding tea/ coffee/ herbal tea)
    2) try to walk / exercise every day
    3) try to be more grateful for things I have
    4) read a book a week
    5) keep a journal
    It's a tall order!
    Best Arpita.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arpita- I've been enjoying big bowls of soup myself (it is soup weather after all) and will be trying some new recipes for hearty soups. I'll blog about the favorites for sure. Excellent idea to restrict the portion size for rice. That way you're not cutting it out but not eating an unreasonable portion either (which is so easy to do for rice). Wishing you the very best with your resolutions, they all sound doable and actually fun.

      Delete
  20. Well begun...is half done! I just hope I can become a bit more active this year.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Happy New Year Nupur. Sorry for commenting so late. I love your word theme for this year and I am pretty excited about the healthy shift in your life and blog. I am definitely trying the broccoli slaw for my noodle loving hubby.

    - Priti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Priti- and wishing you and your husband a wonderful new year!!

      Delete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!