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What's on your plate?

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FOOD MATTERS Dr. Shweta Rastogi (left) at the book launch
FOOD MATTERS Dr. Shweta Rastogi (left) at the book launch

A book on building the right food pyramid for a disease-free life

Not too many of us give it a serious thought but our daily diet plays a crucial role in our health. For a disease-free life, taking the right food is important. Highlighting the idea, here comes a useful book, “Eat Right to Stay Bright”. A Popular Prakashan offering, the book, written by Dr. Shweta Rastogi, a clinical dietician and consultant in lifestyle medicine, was recently launched in Mumbai. Rastogi, who works as chief dietician at a Mumbai-based multi-speciality hospital, says, “This book gives a comprehensive account of nutrition and the diet required to combat lifestyle-related diseases. “The book, she says, “is the result of constant demand from my patients, medical specialists, general practitioners and dietetics students to come up with useful guidelines to combat diseases.”

Categories of food

Divided into 10 chapters, the first four of them highlight the basics of nutrition. “The book tells the reader how to judiciously use the food pyramid, which forms the basis of food planning.” Expanding the idea, she states, “Foods are generally classified into broad groups based largely on their biological nature and nutrients they provide. The basic categories of food are cereals and pulses, vegetables and fruits, milk and milk products, meat, fish and poultry, sugar and sweets, nuts and oilseeds, and fats and oils. These food groups are sometimes used to develop models and guide to help consumers select foods that make up the food pyramid models.”

The food pyramid helps in planning our meals right. But, which group is important, which is not? She says, “Cereals and grains form the base of the food pyramid which means that this group of food should form the largest part of our meal. Forty to 50 per cent of our calories are obtained from cereals. Fruits and vegetables add colour, flavour, variety and lots of health benefits. Therefore, the caloric contribution from this group should be quite significant.”

Milk and milk products also play a very important role. She says, “At least 20 to 25 per cent of calories should be obtained from this group.” For non-vegetarians, milk can be substituted by meat, fish and poultry. Other groups of the food pyramid are less important. “Fats, oils and sugars intake should be minimal. The selection and intake of fat would depend upon the type of fat a person consumes. It is advisable to reduce saturated fat in the diet and substitute it with some monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and some polyunsaturated fats (MUFA) to provide the fatty acids essential for health.”

The rest of the chapters are about diet management aimed at people suffering from diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. she says, “These guidelines will help patients to know the correct way of managing a disease through dietary intervention. The book contains a collection of disease specific recipes. Important nutrients required during a particular disease are all calculated and mentioned along with the recipes.”

Rastogi sums up, saying, “There are no good or bad foods. Any food can fit into a healthy lifestyle if it is consumed in moderation. If you eat a high fat snack in one meal, then choose a low fat option in the next meal.”

IRFAN AHMAD

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