Maintaining lost weight is a lifestyle commitment

We know that eating less and exercising more loses weight. Losing weight is only one segment in the long drawn process called dieting. The challenging part is maintaining the lost weight which in real is a lifetime commitment to good eating and physical habits. The several approaches to maintain the lost weight include continuing the physical activities, avoiding situations that may lead to overeating, changing attitudes towards eating and socializing, mindful eating and dealing with stress.

Changing attitudes towards eating starts with scrutinising what is cooked and served at the dining table - what foods appear mostly on the home menu, choice of snacks and sweets, how oily is the cooking, quantity of ingredients that go into the preparation of dishes. Critically review your recipes and menus to see how they can be made leaner and healthy. In short, put your cookbook on a diet.

Lower fat: One of the ingredients that can drastically add calories to a dish is fat. The fat or oil in most recipes can be altered without distancing much from the original taste. In Indian cooking, a major source of fat is the cooking oil used to sauté onions. Other sources are coconut milk, grated or ground coconut, nuts, seeds, butter, ghee, full cream milk etc. Reducing oil by 30 per cent brings down the total calories of the dish dramatically, yet makes the dish palatable . Replace full cream milk with low fat or fat free in recipes. While baking cakes, use only half of the butter called for and for the remaining use any pureed fruit like applesauce, dates or banana. Vegetables are not to be doused in oil, but cooked to retain its fresh taste. Look through your recipes and cut down sources of fat and sugar.

Simplify menus: Plan simple menus. Feature healthy recipes for daily eating including lots of vegetables, whole grains and fruits. If any meal is expected to be heavy, then minimise fat and up the fibre in the next meal. If one dish is rich then keep the other dishes of the meal light. Fibre is a friend to anyone maintaining or losing their weight, so choose it over refined and processed foods.

Adopt healthier cooking methods: Use non-stick pans, pan sprays, heavy skillets, stoneware (kal chatti as we say in Kerala) to cook. Healthy cooking methods are steaming, poaching, braising, grilling and sautéing or stir frying. The rule of the thumb is to make up with spices and herbs for any flavour that is decreased due to less fat, salt or sugar.

(The writer is a city-based nutritionist)