Overcoming Barriers to Healthy Eating

Eating a healthy diet is very important for a healthy life. But lack of awareness about the basics of nutrition and lack of proper guidance are the two major roadblocks in achieving this. Even those health-seekers who are aware of what kind of food promotes good health and which are the culprits that worsen health, quite often struggle to overcome barriers to healthy eating.

For example, the usual reasons that are given for not following a proper diet are– lack of time to prepare healthy meals, peer pressure or temptation, busy with office work, the high cost of buying healthy food… Do you believe that healthy eating habits are not always as easy as they sound? What has stopped you from changing your eating habits in the past? What do you think might stop you in the future?

Well, we need to identify our barriers first and try to overcome them one by one. As a dietician, I would like to share some tips on how to overcome some common barriers to healthy eating.

Barrier: “I don’t have the time to prepare meals every day”.

Solution: If you don’t have enough time to prepare elaborate dishes, then try preparing easy and healthy foods such as sandwiches, vegetable and fruit salads, chapatti and chickpeas curry, soups that take less time etc; all of these come with enough amounts of nutrients when prepared correctly. Share your meal-making tips with friends, family and colleagues, so you can trade off days that you prepare food.

Barrier: “I can’t afford to eat healthy foods all the time”.

Solution: Eating healthy fresh foods isn’t always more expensive. Buying fresh foods like fruits and vegetables in season, green leafy veggies, whole–grains and eggs can all save your money on food, compared to those that are unhealthy such as pre-packaged junk foods and fast foods that are available for the same price. Appropriate planning of your budget on healthy foods, smart shopping and easy cooking can save money in the long run.

Barrier: “I don’t have time to make changes”.

Solution: The most common excuse I hear from my clients is “My life is too busy” or “I have more important things to do”. First, work on time-management techniques that fit you; next, ask your family and friends how they manage to fit good nutrition into their lives. Don’t try to make too many changes at once, take every step slowly. Planning in advance for the next day’s meals, following simple but healthy recipes and allotting time for relaxed eating on a busy day will all help you achieve your goal.

Barrier: “I don’t like healthy foods”.

Solution: Some clients give reasons such as “I don’t like vegetables,” “I don’t like low-fat foods,” or “I really crave sweets and high-fat foods”. The main reason for this is developing a liking for high-fat, sweet and greasy foods from a young age. A gradual change in eating behaviour is being achieved by almost all our clients when they are given the right awareness and guidance. Fruits topped with seeds, use of herbs and spices in a dish, whole grain recipes with nuts, and creative salads and smoothies are sure winners when it comes to healthy eating and feeling full at the same time.

Barrier: “I don’t know what kinds of foods are healthy”.

Solution: It is believed that healthy foods are natural food that helps to sustain good health as well as containing vital nutrients that are grown without artificial substances or processes. While choosing healthy foods focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein like chicken and fish and low-fat dairy products. Limit the intake of added sugar, salt and oil. Avoid unhealthy foods that are preserved, packed and processed and also packaged drinks. These steps will help to promote good health and also protect against chronic diseases.

Eating is an important part of your journey and the incorporation of healthy eating habits is one of the best ways to help you reach your ultimate health goal. Start incorporating healthy foods into your daily diet to prevent heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and other chronic health issues. Hope this barrier-solution format motivates and encourages you to take the right steps to a balanced healthy diet. If you require answers to more specific problems or challenges, you may contact the healthcare team at the Cardiac Wellness Institute for a detailed dietary assessment and guidance.



Pulmonary rehabilitation: in a nutshell

I am glad that pulmonary rehabilitation is starting to get it’s much deserved attention. We had elaborated on the basics of pulmonary rehab in an earlier post…

Breathe, Believe & Receive

Let me explain why pulmonary rehab is the need of the hour. More and more people today are suffering from chronic diseases of the airways and the lungs like chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. While breathlessness, airway tightness, cough, wheeze, expectoration, tiredness and fatigue are noted  early in the disease phase, many of them go on to become oxygen dependent in due course of time as they are unable to meet their own body’s oxygen requirements. In other words, their breathing efficiency drops so much that the oxygen content in room air is no longer enough for them; supplemental oxygen in a concentrated gas form is prescribed to these individuals and they breathe in this extra oxygen either intermittently or throughout the day. While it is not a taboo or a stigma to be on ambulatory oxygen (i.e. extra oxygen supply that you carry with you while you continue to do your routine activities like going to work, exercising, socialising etc.), it is a clear indication that the respiratory system is choking under threats like smoking, air pollution, lack of exercise and unhealthy diet.

Medical management of chronic lung problems includes medications, lifestyle changes,  pulmonary rehab and oxygen supplementation. Surgical management is limited to lung transplantation.

Can pulmonary rehab help prevent this stage of supplemental oxygen requirement? Yes, pulmonary rehab is proven to improve the breathing efficiency of the diseased airways and lungs and prevent the stage of oxygen dependency. However, it should be initiated early for maximum benefits. As soon as you or your loved one is diagnosed with a chronic lung disease, it is imperative to seek out the nearest pulmonary rehab service and enrol in a rehab program.

Will pulmonary rehab help improve my breathlessness and other symptoms? The components of pulmonary rehab, namely health education, breathing exercise, aerobic exercise, strength training, dietary modification and group counselling, together help to reduce your symptoms and increase your ability to do daily activities. At least 4 weeks of pulmonary rehab with 2-3 sessions per week are warranted in all chronic lung patients.

How should one go about finding out if pulmonary rehab is likely to benefit him/her? Talk to your pulmonologist. An increasing medication dose and number of drugs, an inability to do things that you could do with ease earlier, a falling body weight and muscle weakness are some indicators of resistance to medical management. Pulmonary rehab, if it was not started at the time of diagnosis, should at least be initiated when drugs are not helping anymore. Pulmonologists and general physicians managing such patients should stress the importance of a comprehensive pulmonary rehab program and refer their patients to avail such services.

A recent publication in the journal Lung India addresses some pertinent issues of chronic lung patients and stresses the need for comprehensive pulmonary rehab services across the country (doi:  10.4103/0970-2113.116248).

Spreading awareness about chronic lung disorders is our prime concern.

Cardiac Wellness Institute is conducting a health awareness program that aims to help people with cardiac and pulmonary ailments manage their health better and also to enable disease prevention in high-risk individuals.

The program is scheduled for 9.15 am – 12.45 pm on Saturday, 26th January 2019. Registration fee is Rs. 500 per person. Please call 044-43192828 or 9940408828, or email to register for the program.


09.15-09.30: Registration

09.30-10.30: Heart Lung Mechanics by Dr. Priya

10.30-11.15: Group exercise by Physiotherapist

11.15-11.30: Refreshments

11.30-12.15: Nutrition tips & recipes by Dietician

12.15-12.30: Details of upcoming rehab programs

12.30-12.45: Q&A