Obviously, water is your best option. But, I know that can be a hard transition to make, so start with just trying to drink less sugar first.
Indian Food – Bread
I love naan, pretty much all types of naan, plain naan, garlic naan, onion naan. I’m sure you do too.
However, your better option is wheat naan or wheat roti. It’s lower in glycemic index than regular naan which is made from white flour.
Wheat naan or wheat roti has a lower glycemic index and won’t cause as much variation in your blood sugar levels. This is better for weight loss.
However, it’s not so much lower in glycemic index that you should eat extra wheat naan or wheat roti. It’s an improvement from regular naan but still high on the glycemic index scale, so don’t get carried away.
The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to slowly decrease the amount of regular naan you have. Basically, if you normally eat 2 regular naans, try eating 1 regular naan and 1 whole wheat naan.
Indian Food – Protein and Vegetables
Paneer, technically not a vegetable but frequently found with other vegetables like palak (spinach) paneer. Although paneer does have protein, it also has fat. I would get this only if you’re not eating fatty protein in another source like meat.
One of the best sources of protein is legumes, so lentils or chana masala is a really good source of lower fat protein.
As vegetables go, it’s best if you switch anything with aloo (white potatoes) for other vegetables like palak (spinach) or gobi (cauliflower).
This is because white potatoes have a high glycemic index and will raise your blood sugar more.
A lot of times dishes come as a mix of vegetables including potatoes or paneer. In that case, you should try to eat more of the other nonpotato/paneer vegetables and leave the potatoes/paneer behind.
Quick review on why glycemic index is important
High glycemic index foods will raise your blood sugar faster and higher, and your body will then want to keep you at that higher blood sugar level.
So when you eat high glycemic index foods, you will be more likely to feel like eating more to keep your blood sugar stable at a high level.
For weight loss and health reasons, it’s better to try and switch higher glycemic index foods to lower glycemic index foods.
As a cardiologist I get a lot of questions about weight loss and exercising, I’ve answered a few of the questions I get asked most commonly below.
Should you exercise to lose weight?
No, you should exercise because it’s good for your health, toning and strength, preventing heart disease. It also helps with anxiety and depression, among many other benefits.
Doesn’t exercise help you lose weight?
Yes, it does, but it’s more efficient to change the way you eat.
If I eat Peanut M&Ms every day at work as my afternoon snack (1250 calories/week) I would have to run 2 hours/week @ 5.5mph – 6mph. That’s just to burn the Peanut M&Ms off, to maintain my weight not to lose weight.
Alternatively, I could not eat an afternoon snack, or more realistically I could change what I eat as my afternoon snack to something that’s easier to burn off. Sugar and fat calories take more work to burn off.
How much do you have to exercise to lose weight?
This is very person to person dependent. Hypothetically let’s say you need to burn roughly 3500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat. Then you would need to run 5-6 hours at about 5.5-6 mph over what you already exercise to burn off 1 pound of fat a week.
So if you work out 3-4 hours a week already then you would need to work out 8 – 10 hours a week. Personally, I’ve tried this before, working out more to lose weight. I find it ends up being hard to schedule this much time to work out every week regularly. Really it’s just more efficient to change the way you eat.
Do you have to exercise every day to lose weight?
No you don’t have to, but you may find it useful to exercise every day in the following situations:
If you’re exercising to help with stress and you stress eat then yes it probably would help you to exercise every day. It will help decrease how stressed out or anxious you feel on a daily basis, and then hopefully you’ll eat healthier.
You find it easier for planning purposes to have a schedule. For example, you schedule 30 minutes to workout every day at 6 pm. This way you can schedule other things like dinner plans or evening meetings around that time.
P.S. I recently gave some tips to Reader’s Digest about what I think you need to know about developing heart disease, you can read it here.
Too busy to eat healthy? Stress eating is stopping you from losing weight.
As a busy cardiologist, I’m frequently asked how I have time to eat healthy. The truth is I didn’t use to.
Before when I was really busy I would end up stress eating peanut M&Ms from the cafeteria. It seemed faster than actually eating a whole meal. Also, I used to have a bad habit of incorporating chocolate into every meal :). But peanut M&Ms aren’t actually a meal. I would end up eating a regular lunch later in the day too.
Stressed Out at Work?
Is your job really busy and stressful? You’re not alone, based on studies 25%-35% of Americans are stressed out every day at work. If you’re stressed out at work, you’re probably too busy to do meal prep and pack a healthy lunch every day.
You may normally make good choices. But on days you feel like you’re just trying to survive at work you grab whatever is the fastest or easiest or most satisfying. And that could be what’s preventing you from losing weight or making you put on extra weight you don’t want.
This is what I found worked best for me and it could work for you too:
Picking up lunch the night before. You may not have time to make your lunch every day, but you could pick up something healthy the night before. I usually pick up a salad from Panera on my way home from work. They have an app so I order it when I’m leaving work so it’s ready by the time I get there. This way you don’t have to worry about figuring something out for lunch the next day when you’re home and tired.
2. Preplanning your delivery lunch. If you didn’t have time to pick up something the night before, have a preset order waiting for days like this in your food delivery app. This is so that during high stress or really busy times you don’t have to decide to eat healthy. During these times you’ll usually default to your “I’m too busy to think about eating healthy” stress food favorites. This way you’ll be prepared in advance.
3.Leave the scene of the crime. If you didn’t have time to preplan anything and you’re eating from the cafeteria, mentally decide what healthy lunch you’re going to get from the cafeteria on your way to work. Do this before you get busy. Then when you go to the cafeteria get your food and leave as quickly as possible. The more minutes you’re in the cafeteria, the more time you have to change your mind to eat healthy and get a chocolate chip cookie, candy, or other sugary foods.
Don’t Give Up
This will take a lot of practice to make into a habit, but I know you can do it 🙂 I would look at it as an investment in your health the same way you invest for retirement. You have to put in the effort now if you want to stop stress eating, lose weight, and be healthy.
Healthier Thai food choices, so you can lose weight.
Thai food is fairly healthy, and it’s a great option for eating out especially if you’re vegetarian or have vegetarian friends. Usually where you can run into trouble if you’re trying to lose weight is ordering too much food or ordering food with too much saturated fat.
Here are 3 options of what you can do. I would only pick 1 of these options and keep doing that until it’s a habit and you don’t have to think about it anymore.
If you’re eating too much food:
Increase the spice level by 1-2 points, stars, etc. This should slow down how fast you eat, make you drink more water, so you get fuller faster and then you will eat less food. It may not be so great coming out the other end 🙁 but should limit how much food you put in your mouth.
If you’re not eating too much food, switch to lower saturated fat foods:
Switch from coconut based curries and soups to non-coconut based curries and soups. Coconut is usually healthy, but in restaurant Thai food it can have too much saturated fat which will end up on you as fat.
OR you can switch from fried rice, noodles, or dumplings to steamed rice, noodles, or dumplings for the same reason, fried food has more saturated fat which will end up as fat in your body.
If you’re having trouble turning this into a habit pretend I’m at dinner with you checking out all of your food choices, so you feel obligated to make the healthier choice 🙂