Dr Anjali Mukerjee, nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre answers some of your queries.
My 13-year-old son usually binges during meal times. Is there a diet I can put him on that will control his appetite?
If you increase the fibre count of his diet while making him eat whole grain and whole pulses, then his appetite will stay more in control. Snacking on whole fruits and whole wheat bread sandwiches will help prevent excessive eating during meal times. Also, you must cut down on all forms of table sugar, which includes chocolates, colas and ice creams, as sugar triggers appetite. Foods like white rice, white bread, noodles, cornflakes, potatoes and honey are more likely to increase your hunger than foods like whole wheat bread, chappatis, jowar, soy bean, apples, oranges, curd, skimmed milk and green vegetables. Get your child involved in a sport or activities like swimming and dancing. Exercising regularly also helps balance the appetite.
My daughter is studying in the USA and because of the college culture there, she mostly eats junk food. What quick-fix foods can you suggest for her?
There is a myriad of healthy snacks and meal options available in the USA that are just as affordable and delicious as the higher fat and less nutritious versions. Ask her to indulge in grilled chicken sandwiches (whole wheat), stir fry vegetables, brown rice bowls, sandwiches with no cheese and a small amount of mayonnaise, wheat pasta with tomato based sauces, fat-free roasted or baked chips, fresh fruits, clear soup, cereal with low fat milk, low fat yoghurt (unsweetened), tofu and green salads with light dressing.
I’ve been told that having a large glass of water half an hour before a meal controls the amount you eat. Is it true? How does it work?
Not really, but it works for some. So go ahead if it works for you. Drinking water before meals temporarily reduces your hunger by filling you up. Try eating salads first before your meals. That may help you more.
I tend to overeat because of my large appetite. Are there any foods that are filling and non-fattening?
Eat fibre-rich foods like jowar, wheat bran, brown rice, vegetables (not overcooked), raw salads, fruits and whole pulses. Such foods satisfy your hunger. Refined foods like chocolates, pizzas, burgers, white bread, noodles and pasta trigger your appetite. Avoiding such foods will make you less hungry.
Can juices help control compulsive overeating?
Yes, they do to a certain extent. Overeating causes heat in the stomach, which itself becomes a cause of overeating. One feels overtly hungry all the time and cannot stop (compulsive over eating). You then develop what is known as an artificial appetite. It is important to break this overeating-heat-overeating cycle and bring it down to a ‘normal appetite’. This can be done by consuming raw cooling vegetable juices like cucumber, celery, cabbage, radish, lettuce and tomatoes, and fruits like watermelon, apple, oranges, grapefruits and pears. Drink at least 10-12 glasses of lukewarm water, watery soups and vegetable broths. These juices not only provide you with antioxidants, vital nutrients and fibre, but also provide satiety, thus controlling compulsive overeating.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.