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The real reward of maintaining a healthy weight is something you can feel, enjoy and celebrate. Healthy weight leads to a level of health enabling you to live life to the fullest - A life without disease or disability. Invigorating, energizing and joyous health is the richest reward you reap, when you keep obesity at bay. Good nutrition and physical activity significantly contribute to achieve healthy weight and to reach optimal health. The contribution of diet in preventing and controlling obesity is discussed herein.

Obesity, diet and energy balance

Obesity or overweight occurs when expended calories are less than caloric intake. This imbalance between the energy intake and energy output leads to excess accumulation of fat in various parts of the body. People who are most successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight do so through continued attention to consuming only enough calories to meet their needs and by being physically active. Diet and physical activity are two determining factors in controlling or preventing obesity. The significance of physical activity is thoroughly discussed in the physical activity section. This document focuses on diet. Achieving and sustaining appropriate body weight across the life span is vital in this context. Many factors affect a person's body weight. However, calorie balance over the time is the key to weight management. Calorie balance is referred to the relationship between calories consumed through food and beverages and calories expended in normal body functions such as metabolic process and through physical activity. People cannot control the calories expended in metabolic processes, but they can control what they eat and drink, as well as how many calories they spend in physical activity. To maintain weight, calories consumed must be equal to calories expended. To achieve weight loss, calories consumed must be less than the calories expended. Conversely, consuming more calories than expended results in weight gain. Weight loss can be achieved over time by consuming fewer calories and by being more physically active. A combination of both is ideal. Once a person becomes obese, reducing body weight to a healthy range requires significant effort, over a span of time, even years. You, however, by making use of the technological solutions for obesity, available at our Centre, can shed excess fat far easily than you ever imagined. Thereafter, a healthy weight can be maintained through calorie balance as explained above.

Initially aim for a 500 calorie deficit diet. Decreasing calorie intake eventually leads to weight loss. Though you are reducing your calorie intake, caution is needed on your part to include all the requisite micronutrients in your reduced dietary intake. Some charts below would be helpful to you in this regard. Diet and nutrition is, in fact, so vast a subject that it is beyond the scope of this material to discuss it in detail. However, some major guidelines are provided for your benefit.

Overeating should be avoided to prevent overweight and obesity. There is a dramatic increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity across all age groups in the last 2 decades. About 30 to 50% of adult Indians are either overweight or obese. Overweight and obese individuals are at a risk of several diseases. The imbalance between the calorie intake and calorie output leads to excess accumulation of fat in various parts of the body. Calorie balance is the key to achieve healthy weight. Initially reduce your intake by 500 calories. Eat variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet. Make sure your food intake includes all the essential micronutrients. Slow and steady reduction in body weight is advised. Severe fasting may lead to health hazards. Achieve energy balance and appropriate weight for height. Encourage physical activity. Eat small meals regularly at frequent intervals.


Restrict salt intake to minimum. High intake of salt that is sodium chloride is associated with high blood pressure. Sodium is the major electrolyte in the extra cellular fluid. Sodium plays an important role in nerve conduction and fluid balance in the body. Maintenance of sodium balance depends on kidney function. Since all foods contain sodium, sodium requirements can be easily met with moderate salt intake. Restrict the intake of added salt from an early age. Develop a taste for foods low in salt. Restrict intake of preserved and processed foods like papads, pickles, sauces, ketchup, salted biscuits, chips, cheese and salted fish. Always use iodized salt. Iodine is required for formation of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are necessary for growth and development. Iodine deficiency leads to goitre. Sodium intake needs to be balanced by potassium intake. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits to provide adequate potassium.


Sugar which is a processed food provides empty calories. Processed and ready to eat foods rich in sugar and salt need to be restrictively taken. Check regularly for blood sugar, lipids and blood pressure after the age of 30years at least every 6 months.


Drink plenty of water. Water is the major constituent of the human body and accounts for 70% of our body weight. Drink enough of safe and wholesome water to meet daily fluid requirements. Drink boiled water, when safety of the water is in doubt.


Beverages are useful to relieve thirst and to meet fluid requirements. Some beverages provide nutrients while others act as stimulants. The latter type like cola should be restricted. Milk is an excellent beverage and is a rich source of nutrients for all age groups. Consume at least 250 ml of boiled or pasteurized milk per day. Use low fat milk. Milk which provides good quality proteins and calcium must be an essential item of the diet, particularly for infants, children and women. Drink natural and fresh fruit juices instead of carbonated beverages. Beverages like tea and coffee should be taken in small quantity. Prefer tea over coffee. Avoid alcohol. Those who drink should limit its intake.

Fats / Oils

Fats /Oils have high energy value and induce satiety. Fats provide energy, essential fatty acids and promote absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Take just enough fat. Effects of excess dietary fats are initiated early in life. Excessive fat in the diet increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Diets that provide excess of calories, fats and cholesterol elevate blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and promote blood clotting. Limit use of ghee, butter and as a cooking oil. Moderate the use of animal foods containing high fat, SFA and cholesterol. Choose low fat dairy foods in place of regular whole fat. Substitute part of visible fat and invisible fat from animal foods with whole nuts. Shift fat consumption from saturated to unsaturated Eliminate trans-fatty acids (bakery products and sweets).

Processed foods

Minimize consumption of premixed ready- to- eat fast foods, bakery foods and processed foods prepared in hydrogenated fat. Promote complex carbohydrates and fiber rich diets.

Vegetables and Fruits

Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Vegetables and fruits provide protective substances such as vitamins/minerals/ phytonutrients. Prefer fresh locally available vegetables and fruits. Normal diet, to be wholesome and tasty, should include fresh vegetables and fruits, which are store houses of micronutrients. Fruits and vegetables also provide phytonutrients and fiber which are of vital health significance. They help in prevention of micronutrient malnutrition and certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cataract and cancer.
Fresh fruits are nutritionally superior to fruit juices. Include green leafy vegetables in daily diet. Eat as much of other vegetables as possible daily. Eat vegetables/ fruits in all your meals in various forms (curry, soups, mixed with curd, added to pulse preparations and rice). Consume raw and fresh vegetables as salads. Grow the family's requirements of vegetables in the kitchen garden if possible. Let different varieties of vegetables and fruits add color to your plate and vitality to your life. Beta carotene rich foods like dark green, yellow and orange colored vegetables and fruits (GLVs, carrots, papaya and mangoes) protect from vitamin A deficiency. Eat foods rich in -linoleic (n-3) acid legumes, green leafy vegetables, fenugreek and mustard seeds.


A diet consisting of foods from several food groups provides all the required nutrients in proper amounts. Cereals, millets and pulses are major sources of most nutrients.

Eggs, Meat and Fish

Inclusion of eggs, flesh foods and fish enhances the quality of diet. However, vegetarians can derive almost all the nutrients from diets consisting of cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits and milk-based diets. Include in the diets, foods of animal origin such as milk, eggs and meat, particularly for pregnant and lactating women and children. Adults should choose low-fat, protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, pulses and low-fat milk. Eat fish more frequently (at least 100-200g fish/week prefer it over meat and poultry and limit/avoid organ meats (liver, kidney, brain etc.). Egg has several important nutrients but high in cholesterol. Limit the consumption to 3 eggs / week.

Washing and Cooking of foods

Practice right washing methods, right cooking methods and healthy eating habits. Cultural factors play an important role in dietary practices. Faulty food beliefs and faddism adversely affect nutrition and health. Cooking renders food palatable and helps in easy digestion. Cooking destroys harmful germs. Faulty cooking habits lead to loss of nutrients. Cooking at high temperatures leads to destruction of nutrients and formation of harmful substances. Avoid food faddism and discard erroneous food beliefs. Do not wash food grains repeatedly before cooking. Do not wash vegetables after cutting. Do not soak the cut vegetables in water for long periods. Do not discard the excess water left over after cooking. Use only sufficient water for cooking. Cook foods in vessels covered with lids. Prefer pressure/steam cooking to deep frying/roasting. Avoid use of baking soda while cooking pulses and vegetables. Do not reheat the left over oil repeatedly. Encourage consumption of sprouted/fermented foods. Urbanization has increased the intake and demand for processed foods. There is a trend towards replacing traditionally cooked foods with processed foods. Processed foods may not be nutritionally balanced unless fortified. Prefer traditional, homemade foods. Avoid replacing meals with snack foods. Prefer fortified processed foods. Always read food label (given on containers) regarding nutrients, shelf-life and the additives used.


Ensure the use of safe and clean foods. Safe and good-quality food is essential for maintaining good health. Naturally-occurring toxins, environmental contaminants and adulterants in foods constitute a health hazard. Consumption of unsafe foods can lead to food-borne diseases. Buy food items from reliable sources after careful examination. Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before use. Green leafy vegetables, when properly cleaned and cooked, are safe even for infants. Store the raw and cooked food properly and prevent microbial, rodent and insect invasion. Refrigerate perishable food items till consumption. Maintain good personal hygiene and keep the cooking and food storage areas clean and safe.


Exercise regularly
Avoid smoking, chewing of tobacco products (Khaini, Zarda,Paan masala) and consumption of alcohol.
Avoid self-medication.
Adopt stress management techniques (Yoga and Meditation)

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