Nine kinds of sugars in food

I recently attended a sugar detox workshop by a friend who is a health coach. One of the many things I learnt was that sugar goes by many different names on food labels:

  1. IMG_0349Corn syrup
  2. Dextrose
  3. Fructose
  4. Fruit juice concentrates
  5. High-fructose corn syrup
  6. Honey
  7. Sucrose
  8. Sugar
  9. Syrup

If any of the above appears in the ingredients list of your favourite food or beverage, then you are consuming sugar. Even though some sugars are less harmful than others, they are all high-calorie and must be avoided if you are concerned about weight management.

[Photo showing the amounts of sugar in common junk]


No more cheat days or ‘sin-days’!

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 11.25.11 PMReprinted from DailyMail UK. In case you are wondering how to consume 3000 calories a day, it’s easy: some pizzas, some soft drinks, some ice cream, some chocolates, some danish…  I am switching to a monthly cheat day; waiting for 1st October.

Healthy does not mean boring and bland

IMG_2807I had my favorite salad for lunch today, and realised not many people are aware of this amazing combination.

Main ingredients:

  • Avocados
  • Cheery tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Oranges

Dressing ingredients:

  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Honey

What next? Chop the main ingredients and mix together. Then make the dressing and pour over the salad. Lastly, sprinkle crushed walnuts on top and serve/eat. Visually appealing, extremely nutritious, quite filling and very delicious!

Please share your favorite salad recipe.

Check out Dinchack Facebook page for daily tips on happiness, motivation and success!

6 months on Paleo: maintaining at 75kg and 32.5″!


Paleo has become my favorite diet and lifestyle. Not only it allows me to maintain myself at my perfect weight and size, without regular exercise, there are lots of other benefits too!

I first heard it from Hamza, my son who is a bigger health and fitness freak than I am. Then I read the book, The Paleo Solution. More on that here.

I started following the diet in September, and lost 3kg and 2 inches of belly fat in 4 weeks, as reported here. By week 6, I had lost 3.5kg and 2.5 inches of belly fat, as posted here with a photo in November 2012.

By week 8, I had achieved my target of losing 4kg and 3 inches of belly fat. I was down to my perfect weight of 75kg and waist size of 32.5″. Here’s the best part: I have maintained it for the last 4 months! Want to know what the diet really is? Read it here.

It’s easy to follow. You don’t need to go find or cook anything special. Just remove carbs from your regular meals and add some more vegetables, nuts and lean meat.

While on Paleo, I feel more energized all day long, even during late afternoon and after dinner. Sleep seems to have become more refreshing and it’s easier to wake up energized.

If you are serious about weight loss, you must read more on Paleo and give it a try.

[Photo of one of the best fruit salads I’ve ever had, during one of my travels to the Middle East]

The lies we tell…

201301 sunrise

The lies we tell ourselves and others…
Lie: I am late because of traffic
Truth: I am late because I got up late; I am late because I am not organized…

Lie: I don’t have time to read/exercise/call…
Truth: I am not really interested or committed

Lie: I am not good enough for…
Truth: I haven’t learnt how to…

And some more…
There’s plenty of time/life for…
It’s just one bite…
People are no good…
I’ll be happy when…

What other lies can you add?

[Photo of sunrise in Hong Kong. Some more photos of the sun and moon between 31st Dec and 1st Jan here]

“Just one bite…”

201212 onebite

Does that sound familiar?

  • Just one bite of that dessert won’t make me fat
  • Just five more minutes of sleep won’t make me late
  • Just one day off from exercise is ok
  • Just one more charge on my credit card won’t make it any worse

True. If you can really stop after one bite… and that one bite doesn’t lead you to another and then another… For me, resisting the second bite is harder than the first one. And even if I can resist, just one bite leaves me guiltier than no bite. So for me, just one bite is as dangerous! Except of course, on Sundays, when I allow myself to break all the rules – well, almost all. More on the ‘weekly cheat day’ in another post.

“Your life today is what your choices have made it, but with new choices, you can change directions this very moment.” Just one choice can change your life!

What if?

What if…

  • we start being a little more grateful for everything we do have?
  • we complain a little less and compliment a little more?
  • we accept everything and everyone exactly as they are?
  • we wake up half an hour earlier every morning?
  • we read something positive and/or useful every night?
  • we focus on the most important tasks, instead of just the urgent ones?
  • we exercise just 10 minutes every day?
  • we replace just one unhealthy meal with a healthy one every day?
  • we add just one healthy snack to our daily diet?
  • we dedicate just one day of the week for our loved ones?
  • we tell them just once a day we love them?
  • we sometimes just listen without passing judgement or advice?

Each of these seemingly small actions have the potential to significantly improve our level of happiness, productivity, health and relationships… and improve the quality of our lives and the lives of people around us. Too difficult? Let’s start with just one of the above, just for this week!

“Just do it! First you make your habits, then your habits make you!” -Lucas Remmerswaal, The A-Z of 13 Habits

[A new day dawns over Shek’O in Hong Kong – courtesy Sara Mush]

10 simple facts about health

Excerpt from my ebook, 47 Tips for Enhancing Life, on health:

  1. Our health is up to us; healthy living is common sense, not rocket science.
  2. Happy people are healthier than unhappy people. Negative emotions cause disease.
  3. Strong relationships and love contribute to good health.
  4. Managing stress is an essential part of staying healthy.
  5. More meals with smaller portions are better than fewer bigger meals.
  6. Natural food is healthy; processed food is not.
  7. Brown – bread, rice, sugar – is healthy; white is not.
  8. Water, green tea, juices are healthy; coffee, hot chocolate, carbonated drinks are not.
  9. Movement and exercise are essential. Gym is not essential.
  10. Choose exercise that’s fun: walking, cycling, swimming, dancing…

Find more inspiration and tips about health and fitness in my book, Dhinchak Life.

[Photo from Mongkok Market, Hong Kong]

3.5 kgs and 2.5 inches lost in 6 weeks, with Paleo!

It started with Hamza’s experiments with Paleo, then the study of The Paleo Solution… story in this post.

The results of the first four weeks were nothing short of spectacular… as posted here.

And now, Paleo seems to have become a lifestyle. I love my egg-white omelette, tuna/salmon salad, grilled chicken/fish with salad, some fruits and nuts in between, lots of water and some coffee. No more craving for breads, rice, pasta… unless when Salma cooks her divine ‘Pulao’ – the antidote of Paleo 🙂

[Yes, that’s me in the photo – courtesy of Sara]

Heard about my book launch in Hong Kong?

Do we really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?

Excerpts from an article on CBC news: The common advice to drink eight glasses of water a day doesn’t hold water, say nutrition and kidney specialists who want to dispel the myth. The recommendation was driven by vested interests rather than health, suggests author Speros Tsindos of the department of dietetics and human nutrition at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia.

“Humans need to maintain fluid balance and need to drink water when required, but should also consider fluid in unprocessed fruits and vegetables and juices”, Tsindos wrote.

“Water is important for health; however, the recommendation of eight glasses of pure water per day appears an overestimation of requirements.” Even a baked potato is 75 per cent water, said nutrition Prof. Susan Barr of the University of British Columbia, who sat on a Canadian-U.S. committee that looked at fluid intake.

Drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee do not lead to dehydration, said Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania who reviewed research claims on drinking eight glasses of water and studied how the kidneys handle it. Goldfarb said despite the common idea that it’s important to “drink eight glasses of eight ounces of water” a day, “There’s no evidence you need to drink more water than what thirst dictates”, Goldfarb added.

A good guide to tell if the body’s finely tuned fluid balance is to check the colour of your urine. If it’s very dark, you’re on the dry side; if it’s very light or translucent, then you need to drink a bit less water, said Dr. David Price, head of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

My note: I’ve always struggled with the eight glasses per day, and usually average six. So I was a bit relieved to read this and other similar articles about the ‘8-glasses-per-day myth’.

4 behaviors that kill


80% of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented! Common, preventable risk factors underlie most non-communicable diseases. Most non-communicable diseases are the result of four particular behaviors:

  1. Tobacco use
  2. Physical inactivity
  3. Unhealthy diet
  4. Harmful use of alcohol

These behaviors lead to one or more of the four key physiological changes:

  1. Raised blood pressure
  2. Overweight/obesity
  3. Raised blood glucose
  4. Raised cholesterol

And these are the causes of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Everyone dies, but not watching what we eat, not exercising, and the use of tobacco and alcohol are equivalent to killing ourselves!

[Most of the above information is taken from World Health Organization website]

Paleo Diet works: lost 3kg and 2 inches in 4 weeks

Dinner of grilled fish with vegetable salad

In a post last month, I wrote about my introduction to Paleo and the 30-day challenge. Well, 30 days are over and here are the results: lost 3kg and 2 inches from the waist.

If you don’t want to read the book, here’s the summary: The basic theory behind the Paleo Diet is that our bodies are evolutionary and genetically designed to thrive on Paleolithic era. You choose foods that were available during the caveman-era, such as meat, fish, eggs, roots, vegetables, berries and mushrooms. And you give up on all processed foods and everything that came along after agriculture and animal farming were adopted such as sugar, added salt, dairy, grains and all processed or fast foods. You drink water and eliminate all beverages, except green tea and coconut water.

My challenge was to cut down on lentils, yogurt, fruits, home-made roti (bread) and the afternoon latte, while introducing eggs and meat back into my diet. Here’s what my diet looked like: Continue reading

The Paleo Diet for health and fitness

Inspired by Hamza (my son who is a bigger health and fitness freak than I am) and his results with the Paleo diet, I started reading about Paleo a few weeks ago. But it wasn’t until I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf that I was inspired to try the diet for 30 days.

Robb’s book outlines the benefits of eating Paleo, the specifics of how to follow the protocol, the evolutionary basis for it, all while providing evidence found in scientific studies. At its core, Paleo intends to imitate an ancestral human diet, with a focus on foods that are available today including meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, while specifically excluding grains, legumes, dairy products, salts, refined sugars and processed oils.

Considering my current diet, I just had to stop eating bread, cut down on fruits and add some lean meat. It seems like a very sensible long-term plan. I’ve been on the diet for exactly one week, and will report by results at the end of 30 days.



What does it take to work off a blueberry muffin?

What it takes for a 70-kg, 30-year-old woman to work off a blueberry muffin (360 calories):

  • 21 minutes of fast skating or
  • 33 minutes of jogging or
  • 66 minutes of lawn-mowing or gardening or
  • 77 minutes of cycling or
  • 92 minutes of vacuuming or
  • 115 minutes of lifting weights or
  • 230 minutes of folding laundry

Think before you eat 🙂 [photo credit: TIME magazine, August 2009]

Download free e-book: 47 simple steps to enhancing life

4 of the healthiest teas and their benefits

Following are excerpts from an article by Gina Roberts-Grey in the Oprah Magazine, July 2012 issue:

The Tea Rx. It can warm your soul or cool you off on a sweaty summer day – but did you know that tea can also prevent the formation of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease? And that’s not all: A potful of research is showing how various brews can ward off pathogens, hypertensions, even cancer. Check out these four healing cups:

  1. Darjeeling. More than half the global population harbors a pathogen called H. pylori; 15-20 percent of those people develop ailments including ulcers, gastritis, and gastric cancer. But in a recent study, scientists found that various teas inhibit H. pylori – and that Darjeeling steeped for five minutes has the greatest effect. Just hold the milk; it can block the activity of compounds in the tea.
  2. Oolong/Green. According to a study of more than 1500 subjects, a half cup to two and a half cups daily of oolong tea or the more famous health star green tea can lower a person’s risk of hypertension by 46 percent. Oolong and green tea are rich in antioxidants that help control an enzyme that raises blood pressure.
  3. Black. Four antioxidant compounds (called theaflavins) found in black tea appear to protect the brain from disease in a very specific way. Last year a group of German researchers published findings stating that these compounds prevented the formation of senile plaques, which contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  4. Yerba Mate. In a 2011 study, scientists added yerba mate to petri dishes containing colon cancer cells. “Put simply, the cancer cells self-destructed.” says study author Elvira Gonzalez. “Caffeine-related compounds in the tea damaged their DNA.” More research is needed but Elvira is optimistic that yerba mate could help the body fend off colon cancer.

My comments: Drinking soda or sugar coffee drinks is extremely unhealthy and unnecessary for an enjoyable life. Switching to water and (unsweetened) tea as your default drinks is not a difficult habit to form and has many health benefits.

[Photo of my favorite green tea by Twinings] Read more bits on healthy habits in my book, Dhinchak Life

It’s possible to lose 140 lbs in 10 months!

This video has had millions of hits on YouTube. In a couple of other videos, the trainer has confirmed that Arther had to change his diet a lot, apart from the yoga. Some people are asking about the diet or exercise program; some are asking whether or not Arther can maintain his weight. To me, this just shows the power of belief and the human will.

Please share with anyone who needs some inspiration.

Free ebook: 47 Tips for Enhancing Life

Today (April 12) I turn 47 years old. It amazes me that I’ve been around that long. I feel like I’ve barely begun. As always, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve achieved, what I’ve learnt, and where do I want to be in five or ten years from now.

Through this photo book, I am sharing 47 tips on happiness, health, relationships and productivity – all of which can enhance life. The photos used in the book are from my personal collection. You can download the book by clicking on the book cover, or from this link. If you find this useful, please share with others too. I will consider that your birthday gift to me.

The power of commitment

“When you are interested, you do what’s convenient. When you are committed, you do whatever it takes.” 

This post is inspired by someone I met today in Colombo. When he decided to move back to Sri Lanka from the Middle East 15 years ago, his wife wasn’t too happy with the decision. She loved Dubai too much. This man promised his wife that he’ll bring her to Dubai for at least ten days every year. And he hasn’t missed a year since. He told me it was difficult at times to take the ten days off because of work pressure, or other priorities, ‘but a promise is a promise’. 

How often do we sabotage our relationships, health, productivity, talent, dreams… by not fulfilling the commitments that we make to ourselves or others. Whether big or small, every broken promise adds up to create an unhappy situation. Some of the most commonly broken promises I can think of:

  • To our loved ones: I’ll call you back in a minute. I’ll do it during the weekend. I’ll be there for the… (birthday party or the game or the parent-teacher meeting). We’ll take a vacation this year.
  • To our kids: We’ll read it tonight. Yes, I’ll help with your math. I’ll fix it tomorrow. We’ll go there during the weekend.
  • At work: I am working on it. I’ll email you today. I’ll clean up my desk. I’ll call you back. I’ll learn the new… (skill, system, program, equipment) soon.
  • To ourselves: I’ll start exercising. I’ll read that book. I’ll eat healthy. I’m off desserts. I quit coffee. I’ll wake up earlier. I’ll clean up. I’ll volunteer. I’ll start saving.

And I am as guilty as anybody else. Let’s promise to keep our promises. And commit to fulfill our commitments.

[Photo of Fauja Singh, the 100-year old runner. See the story here]

Check out Mush’s photosvideos and Facebook page

3 great benefits of summer!

There’s something good in every person, place and situation. So it is with summer. We can complain about the heat and sweat or remind ourselves of all the goodness that every weather brings. Few benefits of summer that I can think of:

  1. Detox through sweating. Our skin plays a major role in the detoxification alongside the lungs, kidneys, bowels, liver and the immune system. Sweat carries toxins out of the body and flushes them through the pores. Sweating also helps to regulate body’s temperature. Sweating is a natural sauna!
  2. Free Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for healthy immune system, is a potent anti-inflamatory, helps regulate blood sugar levels, helps lower blood pressure… and many more benefits are still being discovered. People would pay any price to get this vitamin, but you can get it free from the sun!
  3. More time outdoors. Summer provides an excellent opportunity to switch off the TV, computer and spend more time outdoors. Whether it’s hiking or cycling in the countryside, swimming in the pool or at a beach, walking barefoot in a lawn or at a beach… summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends!

What other benefits can you think of? Please share through comments.

[Photo of a monkey we spotted during the MacLehose stage 5 in Hong Kong a couple of day ago.]