How Alka Got Started
My third child had been born in 2008. By that point my body had been up and down like a roller coaster many times before through numerous pregnancies. But I had no problem bouncing back to my regular weight. In the past though I was able to lost the pregnancy weight quickly. I thought it was through divine intervention, but it was actually through sheer luck. But this time I was being taught a life lesson, I needed to do something different in order to achieve the same results. It wasn’t going to be so easy.1
Well a year had gone by and I still hadn’t lost the last ten pounds of pregnancy weight, instead I had gained 10 more! And my eating habits were terrible. I ate pasta every second day. The days I didn’t eat pasta I ate huge amounts of rice. I ate sugary refined sweets all the time. And there were hardly any fresh fruits and vegetables to be found in my daily meals – and I was(am) a vegetarian!
At the same time, my friend Sujata was organising a yoga course at her house for couples. It would be a 5-day commitment for both Puneet and I, but we were both ready to start a healthy life. So, in March of 2009 I started on a new path in my life.
Predominantly, I changed the way I ate. The healthy way of life and the healthy mind were positive side effects to me feeling better about myself.
The main thing I did was eliminate white flour, white rice and white pasta from my meals. That was the hard part. If I ate rice, pasta or something made of flour it had to be a complex flour/carb. A whole grain. No more simple carbs for me. I started to use more quinoa for soups, as a replacement to rice, and as a salad. I used more bulgur wheat, whole wheat couscous. I used every kind of flour i could find, from spelt to buckwheat, to amaranth, and rye. I used brown basmati rice instead of white basmati rice.
Then I added tons more fibre in my life. I ate some type of uncooked fruit or vegetable or both at every meal. And way more cooked veggies every opportunity I got. Veggies add bulk, make you feel full and are fairly low in calorie as long as you don’t load them with the bad stuff (butter, oils, creams).
I added nuts (great source of protein, fibre, super heart-healthy). Only the unsalted variety – walnuts, almonds, pistacios, pecans, sunflower seeds, and soynuts. At the same time when I ate these nuts I added some type of dried fruit- raisins, cherries, figs, plums or dates. Raisins are probablly one of the best dried fruits you could eat because they do not have added sugar, are fat-free and high in fibre.
I ate a lot more concentrated sources of protein, like cottage cheese, low-fat natural yogourt and boiled eggs (only 80 calories!). And of course lentils and beans galore. Cottage cheese is low in fat, low in calories, high in protein, high in calcium, a great healthy food. Yogourt is as beneficial as cottage cheese with also having immune boosting factors. I would eat different kinds of lentils and beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, to green gram, yellow lentils, split red gram, split red lentil, in soups, salads, in breads and dips.
l also ate lots and lots of greens – swiss chard, bok choy, arugula, spinach, cabbage, kale, rapini, and the list goes on. I would eat them raw, boiled, pan-fried, baked, stirfried, any way I could. Leafy vegetables are low in fat, high in fibre and high in many different nutrients that are good for the heart, including folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, etc.
I could manage to get by for most of the day on this, but dessert was the hardest. My personal philosophy was to not eat too much in the evening after 6:30, however sometimes in the evening you needed a little sugar hit. There are a few things I turned to – a hot mug of low-fat milk with real cocoa powder and sugar, a few dates, or a few pieces of dark chocolate, or a small bowl of assorted nuts with dried fruit mixed in.