Sep 16, 2021

How I manage my sweet tooth - 7 Tips


Most of us have this tendency to prefer sweet foods. This is partly due to evolution, partly due to conditioning and our exposure to sweet foods during our childhood.

I'm a person with a sweet tooth as well🙂 Please note that I'm referring to "sweet tooth" in this post and not "sweet cravings". Both these terms are used interchangeably but they are different. I'll talk about the latter in a separate post.

Let me share with you 7 strategies/tips that have helped me manage my sweet tooth.

(1) First and foremost, it is better to acknowledge and accept our preferred tastes. There is nothing wrong or shameful about being a sweet-toothed person.

(2) Once I understood my taste buds, I asked myself, "What are my most preferred sweet foods?". I prefer Indian sweets and desserts the most. So I decided to indulge in my most favorite sweet foods and avoid eating other forms of sweets that I'm not too fond of. I can easily say NO to chocolates, icecreams, pastries, cupcakes, brownies, etc. Whenever we go to an ice cream parlor, I wouldn't order anything for myself while K and D relish their favorite scoops of ice cream. I'd then go to an Indian sweets shop and enjoy a bowl of gulab jamun / rasmalai / jalebi. The strategy is to identify and indulge in your absolute favorites.

(3) Given the easy availability of sweets shop in every nook and corner, it is easy to buy and stock them up at home. I intentionally avoid stocking up boxes of sweets as the temptation will be high when they are visible. The "Out of sight, out of mind" strategy works to control the quantity of sweets intake.

(4) As I'm quite wary about the quality of store-bought sweets, I indulge in them occasionally. I prefer to make most of my favorite sweets at home - kesari, chakkarapongal, payasam, laddoos, etc. Since there is effort involved, I would end up not making them very frequently.

(5) When made at home, I prefer to make small batches and finish them in a day or two. No stocking up big batches. 

(6) I believe in this principle strongly - when we eat matters as much as what we eat. I prefer to eat sweet dishes either in the morning or afternoon. I avoid eating them post 6 PM.

(7) Last but not least, I enjoy my favorite sweets without any guilt. Only when we deny our true preferences, we end up with cravings, cheat days, and binge-eating.


Sep 13, 2021

Thought Dump

I love to jot down thoughts and ideas. Earlier, I used to write them down in a digital note-taking product (Evernote to be precise). I then switched to a paper-based planner/journal sometime in June 2019.


In this post, I want to share a particular journaling technique that I love. The inspiration for this technique came from two sources

  • the amazing productivity bible - David Allen's Getting Things Done book - that I read sometime in 2006, but still relevant in today's digital times
  • from Harry Potter series, Dumbledore's thought bowl - Pensieve


This technique helps if you are someone who feels overwhelmed and being dragged by multiple responsibilities, inspired by new projects, initiatives and ideas, and whose thoughts jump across various spectrums/genres.


Process:

I prefer to follow this technique on most mornings (not every day though). Here's what I do:

I sit with my journal and a pen. And I just jot down all thoughts that come one by one in a bullet format - no judgments, no analysis, no going deeper into each thought. The intention is to become aware of each thought and collect all of them into what I call a "thought dump". Meditating with a pen and a paper, if I may call so.


For example, here's a snippet of my "thought dump" from a few days back:

  • Brian Greene books
  • Resilience and research work on this topic in psychology
  • call P and check for opportunities
  • finish making breakfast and lunch before 10 AM
  • Taichi
  • Why am I uncomfortable with uncertainty?
  • What is marketing's responsibility?
  • Vagus nerve - read more about it
  • Filling your cup before you pour to others - what are my needs?


How does this help?

As thoughts get transferred from our minds to a notebook, our minds become free and relaxed.

If we don't address a particular thought/idea, it keeps repeating itself in a loop.

Our minds are not meant for storage.

Thought awareness becomes a conscious practice.


Taking action on those thoughts is the obvious next step. Before we get to that stage, this simple step of collecting our thoughts gives the much-needed freeing up of our minds, especially on days when we feel overwhelmed.

Sep 9, 2021

Mental Wellbeing

 There's a beautiful scene in the movie #Home where the psychologist talks to Oliver about how Antony is influenced by social media. Though some popular reviewers critiqued that scene to be lecture-ish, I just loved it. 

We experience stress when our thoughts, words, and actions are not aligned. Social media influences our thoughts quite a bit. The more people we follow, the greater the effect of that influence. We follow several people, primarily for the sake of inspiration. We get newer ideas and inspirations almost daily. We bookmark some of the ideas for future reference. We try to implement some of the ideas right away - while we might be successful at a few of them, we might also end up not being able to incorporate some of those ideas in our daily lives.

Irrespective of our actions (or inactions), a simple scroll-through of our feed impacts our thoughts in subconscious ways. 

I've always been a strong advocate of this idea - "Don't follow any universal rule when it comes to food. Choose foods according to your body type. Listen to your body". Off late, I've also started emphasizing life situations as a criterion, along with body type. 

For any change we try to incorporate (not just concerning food), our life situations play a critical role. Before we embark on a change, these questions will help us become more aware of our present situation:

- Do I have the right resources?

- Do I have the right mindset?

- Do I need my family support?

- Are they in a position right now to give me the support needed?

- Do I have the mental and physical energies to incorporate this change right now?

Sometimes, though we might have the motivation and inspiration, our life situations may not be favorable towards taking the required action. And when we see people who are talking about the same idea on social media, we feel stressed, sometimes self-critical on why we aren't able to implement the same. Our thoughts and actions are not in sync, which leads to stress.

We get triggered, not only from a space of criticism/negative news/fear/anger, etc. Triggers can also arise from a space of comparisons/aspirations/achievements/gloating etc.

The more I dive deeper into understanding what contributes to my wellness, the more I discover the role of mental wellbeing. Our mind deeply influences our body. So it is up to us to fiercely protect our mind - our thoughts, sources that influence our thoughts, muting/unfollowing such sources that aren't applicable or relevant to our current life situation.

Aug 20, 2021

Expense or Investment?

 A few days back, K and I went for our weekly fruits and vegetable shopping. The bill is usually around Rs.1000. It has increased slightly in the past few weeks, given that more people are at home, but this is the average amount we incur every week. 

Anyway, this post got triggered by two comments. 

"You are buying too many fruits and vegetables for a week", a casual comment by a loved one.

"Junk food is so cheap but fruits, vegetables, cold pressed oils and millets cost yaanai vilai", a comment from a dear reader.

This is how I see it - "choose quality ingredients and invest towards your health NOW" or "save money by buying cheap, junk food and pay with a hefty interest towards medical expenses LATER".

Having spent the last 3 months with multiple hospital visits for Appa, I got to experience the sheer magnitude of medical expenses, running in lakhs. To give you a rough idea,

Doctor consultation - Rs.900 . This is for outpatients. If the same doctor steps into your room if you get admitted (for an inpatient consultation), it is Rs.1100.

CT Scan - ranges from Rs.10000 - Rs.16000

Blood tests - ranges from Rs.1000 - Rs.6000

Admission Charges - Rs.10,000 per room per night (non-sharing), Rs.5000 per room per night (twin sharing)

Nursing charges and Doctor Visit charges proportionately increase depending on the room type you choose. 

Adult diapers cost around Rs.600-700 per pack of 10 in Amazon, whereas the hospital charges Rs.700 per diaper.

All medical supplies used by nurses and doctors are charged to the patient's bill - right from disposable syringes, gloves, swabs, face masks etc. These add up to a sizeable amount if the stay is for 3-4 days.

A pack of protein drink that is given through a food pipe (for patients who are not able to eat/drink) costs Rs.1310 per kg. Lasts for 3-4 days, depending on the frequency of the feeds.

We had to go to a multispecialty hospital, given the health situation as well as the prevailing pandemic. So the costs might be on the higher side. The place of living matters too. These ranges will be similar in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, etc. They may be slightly lower in tier 2 cities.

The intention of this post is not to spread fear but to share the current reality of the costs that we are expected to incur in hospital/medical bills.

Apart from financial stress, medical conditions pose a lot of physical, mental, and emotional stress both for the patient as well as for their family members. 

Let's take charge of our health right NOW. Let's make the right investments towards it NOW. 

Aug 12, 2021

My latest interest

Guess the topic I have become extremely curious about.

Astrology. Yes, you heard that right.

Over the past three months, my interest in astrology has increased quite a bit. I was looking for answers related to events that have been unfolding in my life in the past one year or so - multiple challenges, unexpected turns of events, situations beyond my control, and so on.

I wouldn't claim that I have got the answers I was looking for through astrology. But I could see a larger connection and correlation, something which helps me feel a sense of calm and acceptance.

Since childhood, I have always been interested in reading Sun signs and the daily predictions - be it in a random newspaper or a magazine. But I never paid closer attention to them. But in the last few months, I have been listening to monthly predictions and watching multiple videos to understand astrology better.

Instead of bluntly dismissing astrology as superstition/pseudoscience, I want to go deeper and learn the nuances of it, before judging or making a conclusion.

As though the Universe wanted to concur with my thought, I was pleasantly surprised to notice a mention of astrology in "Project Agni" in the Navarasa anthology series. That was my most favorite story, btw. It was brilliant and mind-blowing.

Are there any astrology enthusiasts reading this? Do share your thoughts and resources on how I can explore astrology in detail, preferably Tamil stars and signs.

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