The healthy Indian menu

The healthy Indian menu

Last week, the Diabetes Foundation (India) announced new dietary guidelines for Indians. These have the backing of the Union government’s department of science and technology, which organized a conference on nutrition in April, where the guidelines were debated and finalized. The full document is to be published in a peer-reviewed journal early next year.

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The last time Indians got such a set of guidelines was in 1998, when they were drawn up by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. The new guidelines, on which the Diabetes Foundation took the initiative, have several updates—for instance, a simple way to calculate calorific needs, and the addition of sample healthy regional food items for different daily calorie needs.

The regional sample diet tables have been drawn up in variations of 1,400, 1,600 and 1,800 calories. We reproduce options for a 1,600-calorie diet, which is the closest fit for most of the ideal-weight male population (for women at their ideal weight, most of the population’s needs would be closer to the 1,400 mark).

However, each individual’s exact calorie needs are different, so calculate yours using Tables 1 and 2, depending on your height, build and lifestyle. Then find out how many servings of each food group you need from Table 3.


Bearing pain strongly

Shirin Sabavala, president of the Mumbai chapter of the Bihar School of Yoga, which has had some experience in trauma relief (it worked with soldiers posted near Aksai Chin seven-eight years ago), says: “In yoga, you don’t try to suppress the pain. You let the person experience it but be strong enough to deal it with it." According to Sabavala, the school uses five techniques to tackle emotional trauma. However, these techniques have to be followed on a regular, sustained basis to provide relief, she adds .

Simple ‘asanas’: Such as Pawan Mukta Asana, Shashanka Asana and Vajra Asana, in which you inhale and exhale so that you can concentrate better and become focused on the ‘asana’ and all external stimuli can be shut out.

Pranayam: This breathing exercise helps control mental turmoil.

Prataka: In this method, you concentrate on an object, such as a candle flame. Fix your gaze on the flame, then close your eyes and visualize that flame. This exercise helps to focus the mind and reduces fear and anxiety.

Ajapa ‘jap’: This is a very efficient tool for managing fear and psychological trauma, through the recitation of mantras, chants or short prayers. “There is no religious connotation to the mantra," says Sabavala. It is repetition that restores fragmented mental energies, providing clarity and peace.

Yoga Nidra: This is “yogic sleep", which leads to deep psychic relaxation. It’s not hypnosis, but a state achieved through positive suggestions by the teacher.

— Chitra Narayanan

Pranayam vs terror

After the terror attacks at Mumbai’s Trident and Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotels, employees went through a customized Art of Living programme to help them recover their equilibrium. R. Ramesh, CEO-APEX (Achieving Personal Excellence, the corporate programme in Art of Living), India, says, “Specially trained trauma relief experts conducted the sessions." Participants were taught Pranayam and other breathing exercises for anger and emotion management. Apart from this, they were encouraged to express their feelings in life-story sharing sessions. Guided meditation as well as music and dance sessions helped them relax.

“We also had them do puzzles and games—simple jigsaws that required concentration—as we found that many were suffering from poor concentration after the attacks," says Ramesh. Above all, participants were taught Sudarshan Kriya, the USP (unique selling point) of the Art of Living programme, which Ramesh describes as a special breathing technique that combats stress. Participants were also given potter’s clay to help them express their feelings. “The clay process was a big hit. We saw people creating temples, church, etc, and also at the other end of the spectrum, guns, rifles, etc.," says Ramesh. This provided an insight into the participants’ mental state for counselling sessions.

— Chitra Narayanan

Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

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