Sisterhood of traveling peppers…

What led to the discovery of Americas/new world? The search of a land called ‘India’! And why were Columbus and his sailor buddies looking for India? They were interested in spices!! Yes spices, and to be more specific they were interested in Piper Nigrum, commonly known as “Black Pepper”.

Discovery of America led to “Columbian Exchange” which was a mass exchange of foods, cultures, and diseases…It literally changed the world! For better or for worse? Who knows and who is to decide? So really if you think about it, not soccer but a spice was responsible for David’s transatlantic move! 😛

Columbian exchange not only introduced black pepper to Americas but it also caused Chili Pepper to break out to the old world for which us Indians can’t be thankful enough (can you even imagine Indian food without red chili powder?!)

So, one was born in Americas, traveled east..She came, she saw and she conquered over rest of the Indian spices… so much so that India is now the biggest producer and also the biggest consumer of Chili Peppers in the world!

Whilst her distant Indian cousin has already crossed over the seven oceans and won over western hemisphere a long time ago. Did you know that United States of America is the biggest consumer of Black Peppers today (can you imagine mashed potatoes or Mac N Cheese without a dash of pepper?!)

Apart from spicing food up, both these sisters have an impressive portfolio of health benefits to flaunt.

Certain people who can not handle spicy stuff tend to steer away from these hot sisters. But one can always start by sprinkling a little amount on food every now and then..and gradually develop tolerance and even a taste for it.


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“Die-a-bit-es” or is it?

Vanessa, a friend of mine used to call it “Die-a-bit-es” in her totally exaggerating tone!!

 Admit it, most of us just shrug at even the mention of diabetes (or any lifestyle disease really), don’t we? We think we are invincible!! Young, energetic, healthy (at present), why should we spare even a second thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet!.

It’s either that or we are suffering from overexposure and inevitable indifference. Indifference towards acceptance that we are vulnerable…that the problem exists… thus we fail to devise any prevention strategy!!

Answer following questions very honestly-

  1. Do you smoke?
  2. Do you do any exercise, even mild ones(house chores, walking) at all?
  3. Is your work sedentary (sitting for >6 hours continuously each day)?
  4. Diabetes runs in the family?
  5. (Women) do you wear medium-Large size pants, (Men) are you wearing XL size pants??

If your answer is ‘yes’ to more than two questions on this list, you are at risk for developing diabetes (and an assortment of other lifestyle disorders!)

What must you do now?

Stop Breathing! Stop Eating! Stop Sitting and Stop Wearing Pants!! In fact, while you are at it might as well cut off all the ties with all the family members!!

No Seriously, do it..because all of this is going to be so much easier than what I am going to suggest next…

3 lifestyle changes that will change your life-

Number 1, Quit smoking

Seriously, quit smoking! Time and again studies have shown that smoking almost doubles your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease (and cancer..)! Need I say more?

If you need help, it is always available, you just have to ask for it!

It won’t be easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight but the health benefits will be worth all the physical and emotional turmoil!

Number 2, Dexercise

Desk+Exercise=Dexercise. It’s an old concept really! So what if you have no time getting your butt out of that office? You can shake it well within the constraints of your office walls…Try these simple exercises-

  1. Instead of emailing your colleague for trivial matters, walk over to their cubicle…
  2. 60 seconds of jumping jacks: It is what it sounds like, literally jump for a minute to get your heart rate up!
  3. While sitting, raise both your arms up and start tapping your foot rapidly on the floor. Do it for half a minute. Repeat 2–3 times.
  4. Take stairs (think aerobics!)

It may seem silly in the beginning but the benefits are tremendous as studies show that too much sitting increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and is linked to decreased lifespan! Try these exercises at your desk

Number 3, Increase your dietary fiber intake

Dietary fiber, in simpler terms, is the part of food that our digestive system can not digest. Thus it is not absorbed by the body and adds bulk to the stool. It is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Wellknown health benefits of Dietary Fibers include relieving constipation, lowering blood cholesterol levels, weight loss etc. But there is one less discussed health benefit and that is “Improved Insulin Sensitivity”

Yes, studies show that increased dietary fiber intake improves insulin sensitivity which can, in turn, reduce your chances of developing diabetes!

So, here are few tips to increase your dietary fiber intake-

a. Keep your fruits where you can see them and reach them very easily..remember, when hungry we go for things that are right in front of our eyes!!

b. Add one serving of fruit or vegetable to each meal: add fresh fruit slices/dried fruits over breakfast oats; add cucumber-tomato slices to lunch plate and add raita of some sorts to your dinner.

Check out Archanaskitchen for some interesting raita recipes…

c. Make at least half your grains whole grains : Choosing whole wheat atta instead of refined flour (maida), whole wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain pasta instead of white one are some ways of getting more dietary fiber.

Now those were my 3 lifestyle modification suggestions..and I know; I know I was being sarcastic in the beginning…but I say this with utmost genuineness-

That I am aware it is easier said than done; but every small lifestyle modification counts. A better health is not a result of any single drastic habit/lifestyle change but is accumulation of many small ones…

So wish you all the might for taking the first baby step in the right direction👍👍👍

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5 tips to fight dehydration

“If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated!”


Ok, let us start by asking an awkward question… “what color is your pee lately?”

“What color!? Its colorless…” 😃😃😃

“Well, its kinda pale yellow…” 😐😐😐

“Its yellow, like really yellow …!”😡😡😡

Yellow urine is a sign of extreme dehydration…Its a sign that you need to make some gradual, and small but definite changes to your routine, to incorporate more fluids in it!

How much water/fluids do we need?

“Generally” 8–10 glasses of water/fluids!

Now this “Generally” is really generalized of a recommendation, and depending on your body surface area, perspiration, climate and even medical conditions, your fluid needs can change drastically.

Personally speaking, I am 5.4″, 130#, no medical issues, living inside a pressure cooker (literally) and tend to sweat like a pig!! I tend to go wellllll beyond 8 cups of fluids a day! But that is just me…If you are someone living in a colder climate or has Heart or Kidney failure, your needs will be much much lesser (for specific recommendations, chat with me on DawaiBox app)

So back to square one!! Or are we?

How to know if you are drinking enough fluids? Refer to the pee color indicator in the beginning 👆

Now drinking fluids to avoid dehydration sounds good in theory, but in reality, there exist some challenges-

a. Some people just hate the taste of plain water

b. Some are constantly traveling or don’t have access to water all times

c. Some get bored of drinking the same kind of fluids again and again!

So, here are my 5 tested and tried expert tips to jazz up your fluid intake game this summer-

Number 1.


“They come in different sizes and shapes but they are all pretty…”

I am talking about “Water Bottles!

a small one can fit snug in your handbag next to your makeup pouch and a bigger one can have its parking spot reserved on your work desk!

Point is, carrying a bottle of water en route or keeping it handy during work is not that challenging of a task…you just need to make it a habit (21 days.. 3 weeks.. that’s how long it takes to form a new habit)

So what are you waiting for? Grab that bottle and “make it to go..”


Number 2. Water isn’t the only option

Milk, teas, fruit juices all are almost 90% water, and they all count! So thinking about adding a glass of milk to your breakfast tray (👍👍👍), or half a cup of OJ to your snack time(🙂🙂)

Are you a tea lover? Yes? Lovely 🙂

Go ahead and enjoy that cup of tea…it is an extremely mild diuretic (stuff that makes you pee more) no won’t cause dehydration!

Number 3. Infused water
A very easy and fun way of adding some flavor to your plain old drinking water…Just add some fruits and herbs to your bottle of water and refrigerated it overnight .. Trust me it never gets boring as there are so many fruits and herbs out there… ’N’ number of combinations that you can try!

My personal favorite combination is Lime/Lemon+Orange+Mint, zesty-sweet-n-refreshing 🙂

Know more about infused water and get recipes Here

Number 4. Fruits

did you know that fruits are almost 80% water!

Yes, fruits are one of the most significant, delicious and yet often neglected source of water(No, shoosh! dried fruits don’t count..). So, be it Pineapples, be it watermelons, be it berries or be it apples; feelin’ hungry and dehydrated at the same time? Grab a fruit…

Number 5. Say No to that 3rd cup of coffee

Coffee is guddd…I myself am a connoisseur of coffee (or at least I consider myself to be one..). Coffee is full of antioxidants, is good for the heart, helps uplift your mood and wakes you a nutshell, “Its a magic pill”!

But there lies a dispute whether or not it dehydrates you? Some say coffee makes you urinate more thus dehydrates you and others say its just not true!

Science says up to 4–5 cups of coffee per day is safe to be consumed and will not cause dehydration.

Personal suggestion, STOP after that second cup of coffee (saves on excess sugar calories..) and replace that 3 rd cup of coffee with some cooling and equally antioxidant- rich Sugarcane Juice this summer…


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Be Summer Savvy: 5 foods to reverse the sun damage.

Is summer your choice of the season? Are you one of those people who takes out their gears and goes trekking on sunny days? Or are you someone who hides in the darkest of dungeons during summer months?! Whether you are a summer person or not, truth is that we can’t completely escape the Sun or avoid the damage it inflicts!

Now if you are a summer savvy person, you know the dangers of UV overexposure! And if you are not one, you should Get into the habit of checking the UV index daily.

UV exposure has shown to cause Photo-aging or premature skin aging. What causes the premature aging is the formation of free radicals. UV photons promote the formation of free radicals. These free radicals damage skin cells by attacking cell DNA, breaking down collagen and elastin fiber..because of this, skin loses strength and elasticity, it starts sagging and forming wrinkles thus we look older 🙁

Free radicals (a.k.a Bad Guys)

Are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and they can cause damage by interacting with DNA or the cell membrane( can read rest of Rice Uni’s definition yourself here). Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Free radicals are the BAD guys that are out to harm our skin cells!!

Now the story isn’t all grim, silver lining is that there are agents called antioxidants that can combat the free radicals…

Antioxidants (a.k.a The Scavengers)

There are many antioxidants out there but the principle ones are Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and Vitamin E.

As a Dietitian, my Top 5 picks for foods rich in antioxidants are-

Number 1. Guava

This “non-novelty” fruit is easily found in abundance in almost all tropic countries. Though native to Central and South America. (Peru is… what guava is called in Maharashtra. Coincidence?!)One Guava fruit contains twice as much vitamin C as a Kiwi fruit and 5 times more than of an orange! So…thinking of purchasing that expensive Vit C supplement, why not try a guava fruit instead?

How to eat it: This is a no fuss food. Just wash, cut and eat it 🙂

Number 2. Indian Plums

Also known as Indian Jujube or Ber in Hindi is a fruit that is absolutely inexpensive and is loved by people of all ages and all classes!

This specific fruit is a great source of not one but three kinds of antioxidant compounds i.e. Vit C, Phenolics and Flavonoids. The combination of these 3 is what makes this fruit a true “Superfruit”. And did I mention how inexpensive it is? (Point is, healthy does not have to be unaffordable!)

How to eat it: Straight up, wash, cut and eat

Number 3. Amla/Indian Gooseberry

Amla fruit is one of the best sources of vitamin C known to the mankind. This fruit is being used in Ayurvedic system of medicine for thousands of years and is revered as the earthly form of the elixir (Amrit) itself

1 Amla fruit has almost 20 times more vitamin C than that of an orange! Still, Amla is my third best pick and that is because it is extremely sour/astringent in taste and rarely (if ever) is eaten straight as it is!

Find out 7 easy ways of eating Amla Here

Number 4. Sweet Potatoes

Not the whit flesh ones..the ones with the orange flesh; these are rich in beta carotene. Richer than carrots, tomatoes, squash and spinach!! Not only that, it is also packed with other antioxidants like Vitamin C, anthocyanins and are a great source of dietary fiber as well.

So what are you waiting for, gather your favorite summer vegetables, thrown in some grilled sweet potatoes and a dressing of your choice and you have got yourself a healthylecious salad. Check out this Southwestern grilled sweet potato salad Recipe

And the last and the best Number 5. Mango

Being delicious is no sin! I just do not understand why do people blame Mangoes for their blood sugar and weight issues (portion control people..portion control!) Mango is the best thing that has happened to mankind.. I truly believe that.

Mango is on this list due to its beta-carotene content…Now it may not be as high as that of Sweet potatoes and Cantaloupes but it has more than just beta-carotene; it is a very good source of Vitamin C and a significant source of Vit E as well.

A cup full of mango pieces provide enough Vitamin C to meet your daily requirement of the nutrient.

That was my top 5 antioxidant picks. I considered things like season, availability, affordability and taste were given equally important as of their antioxidant content while picking them…

Now, what are your top antioxidant picks? Leave the reply down below…

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This new year, embrace the bitter as well!

Jewish people celebrate Rosh Hashanah, by eating apples dipped in honey to wish each other “a sweet new year”. Turkish people prepare sweet ‘Ashure’ to wish each other “health, safety, prosperity and spiritual growth”. Chinese people around the world make sweet glutinous rice cake ‘ Nian Gao’ to symbolize getting more and more prosperous each coming year…while all these dishes are sweet, not everything in life is sweet, is it? perhaps that is why in southern parts of India people celebrate the new year with bitter-sweet Neem and Jaggery to signify that life is full of Sorrow as well as Happiness and one needs to taste both to live a healthy and full life…

This March 28th 2017 will mark start of yet another new year for Hindus all over the world. In Maharashtra it is celebrated as Gudi Padwa and in Karnataka, Andhra and Telangana as Ugadi/Yugadi.

Distinguishing feature of this celebration is consumption of Neem and Jaggery. It is called Limb-Gul in Maharashtra, Bevu-Bella in Karnataka (recipe Here) and Ugadi Pachadi in Andhra/Telangana region.

As a child I still remember squinting my eyes shut at the bitter taste of Neem-Jaggery but no matter how many puppy faces I made, could not get out of eating the bitter sweet elixir!

Neem a.k.a “village dispensary”

is a tree native to Indian Subcontinent. Neem has abundant health benefits ranging from antibacterial activity to anti-ulcer activity and from decreasing blood sugar levels to suppressing cancer cell growth and that is why it is also known as “Arishtha” (that what relieves all sickness)…

Neem has shown to benefit in-

  • inflammation, fever, bacterial infection, fungal infection, malaria etc.
  • decrease blood sugar levels in mice per studies so far (Diabetic people, hope you are reading this!!)
  • protecting liver with its antioxidant properties
  • treatment against TB-causing bacteria, Strep causing bacteria, Candida, chikungunya virus and measles virus

Some even claim that Neem flower extract helps in weight loss, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to back this claim yet!

Find out 6 amazing ways of using Neem leaves


Known as “Gur” in the Indian subcontinent is unrefined and raw cane sugar. It is also known as Brown Sugar (US/UK), Kokuto (Japan), Panela (South America) and by many more names in different parts of world…

Myriad of research is available on its medicinal properties, Jaggery-

  • protects DNA and cells against oxidative damage
  • helps lower serum cholesterol and serum glucose levels, helps stop the spread of cancer cells especially in breast cancer.
  • reduce atherosclerosis
  • shows antioxidant properties

Now we can keep going on and on about benefits of Neem and Jaggery or you can try this 5 star recipe of zucchini chutney with Neem

“This Gudi Padwa/Ugadi, DawaiBox wishes you a Happy and Healthy New Year. Let the Neem repel all that is bad in your life and Jaggery bring nothing but sweetness in it :)”

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Is cooking in Aluminum gonna poison your food?

Have you been told to stop cooking in your old aluminium pots as they can cause cancer? I was told so by a dear friend and though being a rational, scientifically literate Registered frigging Dietitian, I exchanged all of my families’ vintage(!) aluminum utensils for stainless steel ones…ALL of them!

That much we are scared of the word “Cancer”! That much even a remote thought of acquiring the disease can move us into taking actions!!

Aluminum trivia

Remember the periodic table? Aluminum is the number 13 on it! It is also a mineral, the most abundant one found in earth’s crust. Thus no wonder it is present everywhere…from your cooking pots, to your baking powder and from your municipal water supply to your antiperspirants! Aluminum is omnipresent…

(Note: unlike its other element batch-mates like Sodium, Chloride, Iron, Silicon, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Sulfur etc; Aluminum has no biological function in human body what so ever! Thus it is essentially a non-essential mineral!)

So what is this deal with Cooking in Aluminum pots and cancer?

Aluminum pots and utensils have been used since the start of the 19th century and they have been popular amongst kitchenwares due to their heat conducting and non-sticking properties. They make lightweight, inexpensive and excellent material for cooking utensils…

But in the late 70s there were studies that shed the light on the fact that people with Alzheimer’s had increased concentration of Aluminum in their brains! Following that there were several studies investigating cancer incidences in Aluminum plant workers…and now more and more studies are coming out investigating the relationship between use of antiperspirants (that contains Aluminum) and breast cancer!

So…its true then right? Using Aluminum pots does cause cancer, right?

Truth is that during cooking, a certain amount of Aluminum is leached into food and the amount of leaching increases if the pan is pitted or old and worn. The longer the food is cooked or kept in the pot, more is the leaching…and same goes for the acidity of foods, more acidic is the food(vinegar, tomato sauce etc.), more aluminum is leached into it!

On an average aluminum pots add about 1–2mg of aluminum to our daily intake. We do get around 10mg of Aluminum daily from different sources (including cookwares). WHO estimated safe upper limit for aluminum consumption for adults is 50mg.

So as you can see…aluminum from cookwares makes up for a very small amount of our total aluminum intake. And if you compare it to some of the antacid tablets that contain ~100–200mg of Aluminum, the amount seems even more minuscule!

None the less, remember Aluminum is a non-essential element, and a metal that accumulates in the body and can cause toxicity. Thus avoiding an excess of aluminum is always the best strategy (a difficult task I would say as it is the 3rd most abundantly found element on earth after oxygen and silicon…its basically everywhere and in everything!)

Tips to limit aluminum dietary intake
  1. Pro Aluminum: If you prefer aluminum cookware for whatever reason, always choose anodized ones.

2. Anti Aluminum: Stainless steel, copper, cast iron and clay pots are some real good alternatives for cookware.

Suggested Read: Metal Vs Clay, what is healthier to cook in?

3. Acidic foods: Try not cook acidic foods in the aluminum pot as the acids leach more aluminum away and it also significantly alters the taste of the food!

4. Storage: Do not store or keep food in the aluminum pot; instead use stainless steel, glass or ceramic ones.

5. Aluminum foils: wrapping foods in aluminum foil and cooking it significantly increases the leaching of aluminum into the food, so avoid it as much as possible!

Well, coming back to my story now…was it necessary for me to sell all my mother’s aluminum utensils? Absolutely not! It was an ill-informed decision and something I wish I could undo (those were her favorite pots..🙁)

So, friends and fellows, you do not need to sell your aluminum pots either. Just be smart, follow the tips above and minimize the amount of leached aluminum into your food 🙂

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Lactose Intolerant and Pregnant?

Did you know that more than 60% of world’s population is lactose intolerant! Oh, you did! Oh..ok. I guess if you are already here reading an article on such a specific topic then you probably are either lactose intolerant or pregnant or both and have done your research alright! And if you haven’t already then to know more about Lactose Intolerance click here

So you are not alone in this…but does that really make you feel any less worried? My mommies to be, are you worried that you being lactose intolerant and not being able to consume milk will put you or your unborn infant at risk for malnutrition? If you are, then let me tell you this that you have nothing to worry about.

Milk is a very good source of calcium and protein for vegetarian people. But for any reason (being vegan, milk allergy or lactose intolerance) you can not consume milk or milk products, you need to know this…


Is a very important mineral nutrient. We need it for strong bones and teeth and that baby in your womb also needs it for its growth and development. We also need Calcium for normal neurological functions and for normal clotting of blood.

How much Calcium do we need?

You otherwise need ~600 mg of Calcium (RDA for Indians). But since you are carrying a life within you, your calcium needs have doubled during this period. Now you need 1200 mg of Calcium.

2 cups of milk + 1/2 bowl of yogurt + 2 ounces of cheddar cheese = 1200 mg Calcium (approximately!)

But really, lactose intolerance or not, do us Indian women consume that much of milk and milk products in a day? No, we don’t!

What now?

Well according to WHO reports, it is perfectly safe for pregnant women to take oral calcium supplements. And your doctor probably will prescribe you a supplement that has Calcium+ Vitamin D and is safest for you and your baby. And did you know that studies have shown that taking calcium supplements during pregnancy also reduces the risk of preeclampsia (bonus!)

Couple that with other dietary sources rich in calcium like Ragi/Nachni, Almonds, Broccoli, Beans (all kinds especially Rajma beans), Fortified Soya milk, Fortified fruit Juices, and you will have a diet that is not just rich in calcium but also far from boring!

Ever had Chocolate Dosa? No; then try this mouth watering recipe of ragi dosa by Tarladalal…trust me you will love it!

So my expecting mommies, do not stress about getting enough calcium during pregnancy. This is the most happiest time in every women’s life and let me help you make it even enjoyable by taking some of that stress away. If you have any specific queries do post them and will be glad to answer them. For expert nutrition advice, you can also consult with me at DawaiBox free of cost!

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Dealing with Depression? Know how to break free!

Why is it that when it comes to health, we are so open about discussing heart health, diabetes, skin issues, weight gain, cancer… even HIV (finally!) and UTIs etc. etc, but very conveniently and coyly we avoid talking about mental health!

If we fall ill, our loved ones will be called and all of our social support will stands tall around us, to protect “us”. But when it comes to mental illnesses, no phone numbers are dialed, no doorbells are rang, no cavalry is gathered, instead, now you are walled to protect “the secret”!

If you have been depressed, I can bet that at least one person has told you to “stop being so depressed!”Depression is real, just like any other illness. Do you tell someone to stop having stomach ulcers? “Jesus and your damn stomach ulcers all the time! Stop having them already!”- Said no one ever…

So why people keep telling you to stop being depressed? Are you even depressed?

Yes, there are blues and sadness that may seem like depression to undiscerning eyes but there sure is a distinction. Find out how to tell if you are depressed or simply sad!

Though this is no substitute for getting an actual assessment done by a psychiatrist; if you suspect what you are experiencing is depression, take this online test to find out for sure!

Also, see common signs of Depression.

For professional help, find a psychologist/psychotherapist near you @ DawaiBox

5 best ways to cope with signs of depressions

  1. “No man is an island” John Donn

It is said that no human being thrives being isolated from the group. And it is true! Our friends, family, loved ones and even acquaintances are what keeps us sane!

Morgan David de lossy via Getty Images

When I am depressed I tend to pull myself back, cutting down on phone calls, keeping to myself, and living in my own head( a classic example of what not to do when depressed). On the other hand, here is a certain someone who when in distress calls his mom without a seconds delay. This has helped him get over panic issues and depression so far, I have seen it happen! So whose example would you rather follow?

2. Jot it down:  

Writing down helps (from personal experience). If you are angry, depressed, sad…no matter whatever emotion you are feeling, putting it down on a piece of paper helps to get it out of your system. Plus the bonus is, writing it down also helps you with sorting out your emotions!

3. Music:

Listening to uplifting and upbeat music helps. You know what else helps? Listening to music that reminds you of a happier time! It could even be a sad song, but if that sad song reminds you of a time in life when you were happier, the song will trigger that memory and will put a smile on you 🙂

4. Taking care of yourself:

Which could mean getting 8 hours of sleep. It could mean taking long walks. It could mean a routine exercise or regular jogs. It could mean paying extra attention towards your appearance. It could mean taking care of your diet. It could mean reading a book or finding a new hobby. It could also mean rejoining your Bharatnatyam classes… whatever it is, you know what makes you happy, you know you do! So just be committed to doing that!

I know with depression comes lack of energy and lack of motivation which makes doing any of these things 10X more difficult, and the depression further grows. Its a vicious cycle, and to break it all you have to do is take one teeny tiny step towards “Loving Yourself❤️‍”.

5. Meditation

Yes, we have read it, and yes Huff post has advised us both for and against it!

But yes, there is definitive evidence that different techniques of meditation do help with improving symptoms of depression to a certain extent.One of the most researched ones is Mindfulness (Buddhist Meditation Technique) or its modern avatar “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT).

Again there are so many types of meditation techniques, find out which one is best for you here.

6. Pet Therapy 🙂

This one is way too close to my heart…! I would rather not give any explanation (you can google “pet therapy for depression” and find out for yourself).

If you are feeling all time low, just get a pet. And by get I mean adopt one. Remember they are not a piece of furniture that you buy (based on appearance!), they are alive, probably abandoned and waiting to be loved again! So gift yourself a furry friend today 🙂 Find a pet shelter near you (in Mumbai) here

Depression, my friends is a constant battle with ones very own self! Its a struggle, and the struggle is real… So if you have a loved one who is battling even a mild form of depression, you better not let them sink! These are the things you must keep in mind and things that you can try to help them-

  • Know that your loved one is withdrawn because of their internal turmoil, and not necessarily because of something you did or said.
  • If they are throwing a temper tantrum or sank deep into the hibernation, YOU STAY STRONG! YOU DO NOT SINK! YOU BE THEIR ROCK!!
  • This is the high time you be very honest and truthful to them. Do care for them and tend to their needs, but do not give into any temptation to tell lies/white lies/half truths just to spare them some momentary grief. Know that lies may seem like the best option in the worst situations but they will hurt and haunt them for a lifetime. Do show them mirror every once in a while without being too too harsh!
  • Be there. Be the ears to hear their emotional outbursts. Be the hands, to hold them when they are stumbling. Be the arms to hug them tight when they are shaking, and be the shoulders that they can cry upon! I know I am asking for a little too much here… But just be there!

Lastly but most importantly, if you or your loved ones are in fact dealing with depression, getting professional help is non-negotiable. Your mom may have your best interest in her heart but she may not be all too equipped to deal with your psychological problems! Hence, go for someone who knows what they are doing and has some hands on experience.

Find and consult with a psychotherapist near you at DawaiBox.

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“Protein needs during pregnancy…and adequacy of vegetarian diet?”

“Are you Veg or Non-Veg?”! No, I am not talking about plants or animals (pun totally intended)! That is just Indian way of asking whether you are a Vegetarian or a non-vegetarian 😛

[ctt template=”3″ link=”Cgad5″ via=”yes” ]Approximately 1/6th of world’s population lives in India and about 1/3rd of those are Lacto-vegetarians…that is A LOT OF PEOPLE! [/ctt]Now, figuratively, say half of that population comprises of women and though not all these women are bearing a child at this very moment; still chances are almost all of them already have/ had/will bear a child in the future, right? So the question is, are these women and their unborn children at the risk of protein malnutrition?

What do we need protein for?

We need protein from diet to make structural proteins for the body (see those muscles…those are proteins!!). We need protein for making enzymes and hormones (think digestion, reproduction, temperature control…think any bodily function really and these two will be involved in it!). We need protein to make antibodies that fight infections. And last but most importantly proteins can also provide energy in emergency situations… In a nutshell, proteins are an irreplaceable part of our diet.

“Some sources of protein in typical Indian lacto-vegetarian diet are milk and milk products, lentils, nuts, soybean etc. Check out a comprehensive list of vegetarian proteins and delicious recipes by Vahrevah…”

How much protein do we really need?

Let’s see…according to the ICMR report protein requirement for healthy Indian adults on a well balanced cereal-legume-milk diet is 0.8–1 g/kg/day. So if you are a 50kg something, healthy and a non-athletic person, your daily protein needs will be ~40–50 gm. What does 40–50gm vegetarian protein looks like?

This is a typical pan Indian one day meal plan, and if your meals or part of your meals look similar to this (which is very likely); “you are meeting your daily protein needs (clap..clap!)

Now if you are pregnant, your protein requirements are slightly modified…

If you are an average weight Indian women, during your first trimester you need only 0.5g more protein each day! During your second trimester; you will need ~7 extra grams of protein every day. And during the third trimester; you will need ~23 gm extra protein every day for the synthesis of baby’s placenta and baby’s body proteins…

“ it possible to meet protein requirements during pregnancy with vegetarian diet itself or do I need protein supplements?”

During first and second trimester it is very much possible, but during the third trimester, the needs increase substantially. Thus with a solely lacto-Vegetarian diet, meeting the protein requirements will be difficult unless the milk and milk products intake is substantial!

Who else still hums that Amul ad “Doodh hai wonderful”??…lets make that “pee sakte ho Three glass full…”

“Yes, 3 glasses of milk or 3 servings of milk products per day will help you meet your protein needs”

*Quick fixes to add more protein to your Veg diet*

Nuts: “When in rush, my choice of snack is roasted and slightly salted peanuts”. Grab a handful, and you have awarded yourself with 6 grams of crunchy proteinecious deliciousness..

Seeds: Ever eaten roasted pumpkin seeds or roasted sunflower seeds? If not, you are missing out! These nutrient packed seeds are not just great sources of protein (handful=6–8g protein) but also contains good fats (think glowing skin and baby’s brain development..). Eat them roasted or throw them in a salad mix, or in a yogurt parfait.

Soy: Soy products are great alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant/has milk allergy or simply dislike milk. Opt for soy milk (try home made, recipe here). Soy chunks, I know some people don’t care for the texture really, but trust me and try this chili soy nuggets recipe and you will never regret it!!

Chutnies: Yes, you read it right…chutney! Groundnut chutney, flax seeds (alsi/jawas) chutney, hummus, podi or even metkut…most authentic chutneys contain lentils and nuts and are good sources of protein. So mommies, craving something salty and chatpata? Instead of going for ketchup, spicy mayonnaise or schezwan sauce, try one of these chutneys (even better ask your mom for the recipe, she will feel appreciated) 🙂

Sprouts: Eat them raw, make a sprout bhel, roast them slightly with light sprinkle of salt and turmeric or just make a good old sabji…they are good, nutritious and full of protein in all forms.

Protein Supplements: Are perfectly fine of an option; just consult with your care provider first

So my vegetarian mommies to-be, yes you need a little more protein during your special last 3 months of pregnancy…but achieving that is very much doable. Do not fret, just follow your traditional, well balanced meal pattern. Key is to eat balanced meals, include variety of protein sources and just enjoy the food! For any questions and explanations, leave the queries in the reply section down below. You can also get free nutrition consultation with me at DawaiBox.

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How can I make my baby eat more?

The other day I was visiting my brother in law, and saw my new little nephew graze onto carrot sticks like it was the yummiest thing in the world! He’s 15 months old and eats regular food and dare I say, with a smile on his face…

PC: Ajay Photography

This made me go “Aww…” and also at the same time “Ouch!”. Got a little pang in my heart thinking I want a baby like this. A baby that will eat everything without any fuss! Now I am worried about a future baby that is not gonna eat enough, and I swear to god I find myself losing sleep over it sometimes! If this is any indication of what is to come, my heart goes out to all the moms who are in fact dealing with this issue!

So let me give y’all biggg hugs 🤗🤗🤗 and let us see some tips and strategies to help you with your baby’s feeding issues 🙂

Enough Vs Plenty

It’s the age-old struggle over what parents think is best for kids and what children actually need! In this case, parents think it’s their right to decide what, when and how much the kid should eat; and in a repressive and ignorant society like ours, parents do very blatantly exercise this right of theirs!

I was an extremely fussy eater as far as I remember. I was my parents first born and they wanted me to ‘be’ and also ‘look’ healthy. They would run behind me with a plate full of Ghee-Rice every meal time. And during snack hours, well this is what snack hour in Nikam household would look like, literally every single day-

“Mom will put me on her lap. Dad will secure my hands and feet with his hands (that way I won’t be able to kick or move) and if I pursed my lips tightly they will pinch close my nose, that way eventually I would open my mouth (to breath). They will then push a ladle full of milk down my throat (I remember regurgitating most of it out anyway)! So yeah for many years I dealt with total aversion for milk and milk products…”

This type of forceful feeding leaves children with some deep scars and fewer opportunities to learn self-control! Read more on how force feeding backfires here.

Children usually are pretty in tune with their hunger cues and fulfilling their energy requirements. They will ask for food when hungry and will stop when they are full.

The problem is most parents think that kids do not know when to eat or they won’t eat instinctively even if they get hungry, which is exactly the opposite of the fact! Like any other animal’s youngsters, human children too are genetically wired for survival. They will eat to survive unless of course there is some underlying medical condition involved (if your child refuses to eat instinctively for a longer period, please consult your pediatrician!)

Reasons why your child might not be eating

  1. Your baby is growing: Transition from being an infant to a toddler and from a toddler to a walker does a number on your baby’s appetite. Firstly, during infancy, their nutrition needs are VAST (in first 6 months their birth weight doubles and in the first year it almost triples!). But as they grow older their energy needs and consequently the appetite as well declines. Around the same time, their personality is also developing. They start asserting their likes and dislikes, which brings us to our second point.
  2. Picky eaters: Children (just like their parents) are designed to like certain tastes more (sweet, salty) than others (bitter, pungent). Same goes for different textures, if something feels gross in their hands or mouth, they will spit it out (see tactile defensiveness). Also instinctively kids always go for the most calorically dense foods (survival instincts again!), which can irritate any mum who wants her kid to eat a variety of foods and get optimum nourishment.
PC: Cassandra Anne

3. Neophobia: “fear of new things” might explain why kids are unsure of trying new things and feel safe and certain about the foods that they have already tried.

4. Tooth: a new one coming or an existing one aching will surely put your little one in an awry mood!

5. All work no play!: Although most mums would prefer their child sitting relatively quiet and not bringing down the house so that they can get their work done; but this lack of physical activity might just be the reason why your baby is not getting hungry!

6. Constant Nibbling: Having snacks throughout the day and specifically right before a meal will sure kill your baby’s appetite.

7. Bad Memories! : This one time I ate tomato chutney and later on vomited (because of fever, tomato chutney had nothing to do with it!) but still for months I had developed an aversion for the food. Same is true for toddlers too. Maybe yours is not eating a certain thing because of a negative association with the food item!

What to do then? Presenting-

10 tried and tested expert solutions

  1. Monkey sees… Monkey Does!: Your toddler is looking up to you for behavioral cues. If a parent is a picky eater and refuses to eat, let us say spinach; your smart and impressionable toddler is surely gonna catch up on that and follow in the exact footsteps. Mothers have to be extra careful in this regard as they spend way more time with toddlers than fathers do.
  2. Food fights are just not right!: Now this will be a difficult one to act out but stay with me! Your toddler sometimes will try to exert their independence by rejecting food served or try to negotiate with you. Meal table then becomes a war zone. In such cases, I plead you to fight the urge to chastise your child. No matter how tempted you might be to give negotiations a try (so that your child will clean up the plate), DO NOT do it! Trust me ignoring them and changing the topic will help your child in the long run as they will learn a valuable lesson that ‘fights and negotiations are bad ‘table manners’.
  3. Create Nurturing Ambience: Make your baby’s meal times as quiet and as relaxing as you can. This means no TV, no tablets, no running around or older siblings playing around. All these things will just distract your toddler from eating (coz be honest, if you are a 3 something-year-old would you rather eat or play around?!)
  4. Got a finicky eater on hands?: Toddlers (just like grown ups) sometimes get tired of eating a certain food (even if it is their favorite)! Or sometimes they refuse to eat just to assert their independence or to gain some attention (kids love to test your limits…that is how they learn what behavior is acceptable and what is not). In such instances again be very patient and do the following-
  • Keep reintroducing the said food item every few days but do not force the kid to eat it! Just place it on their plate and do not even discuss it. Eventually, the kid will give it another try…
  • Or if that does not work then find an alternative. Sneaking helps (sneak vegetables in paratha, sneaking milk in the milkshake, fruit in porridge etc.). This will also boost the nutritional value of the entire dish.

5. Mommy’s little helper 😗: This one really works!

“Remember me being a fussy eater and my mom running behind me with food! Well all of that stopped gradually as my mom started getting me involved in kitchen activities. My designated responsibilities included washing vegetables/fruits, observing her chopping skills, and bringing water in from a communal water boring (yes..back in the days those used to be a thing!)”

PS: I also used to give a pretty cool running commentary on what is going on in the kitchen “तेल टाका.. जिरी मोहरी टाका.. मसाला टाका.. पाणी टाका.. मीठ टाका.. हलवा हलवा.. आणि भाजी टाका.. कालवा कालवा!”

Getting kids involved in activities like dough making, batter mixing, making their own plate, washing vegetables, pouring their own milk tend to get them emotionally invested in the process.

This makes them appreciate food more and also spikes their interest in eating the finished product!

This trick also works well in case of Food Jag.


6. Meal table Rules: Have a structure. Have set meal timings so that your child’s rhythm of hunger will match and he/she will be hungry at meal times. Usually, 3 meals and 2 snacks work well.

  • Grazing throughout the day is a big No-No as it will kill your baby’s appetite for meals! Know more here.
  • Offer a variety of healthy options but let the child decide if and how much they would want to eat. Some days they will eat less but they tend to make up for that by eating well on other days!
  • Give your child some power! Toddlers tend to be very opinionated about what they put inside their mouth (because eating is one of the very few things that they have control over). So if they are saying “No” to something, let it be!
  • No cooking on demand! Do not stop cooking certain foods because your kid doesn’t like it. Likewise, do not fall prey to any impromptu “I want Maggie” demand! ((no matter how tempted you might be). The kid needs to know ‘what is cooked is cooked!’
  • After meal time is over, clean up the table. If your child hasn’t eaten the even quarter of their meal, still no extending meal time just for them. Take away the plate so that they know the meal time is over. And whatever you do, do not beg or run behind them with a plate full of food!
PC: Veer
7. 🍎You caught my eye🍎
 Babies (just like adults) tend to reach for what is in front of their eyes or what is easily accessible. Which is why,
“If you want them to eat more of something, keep it in front of their eyes or where they can easily reach for it.”
Do this instead of forbidding junk food. Restrictions always backfire!



8. Introducing new foods: This must be done by introducing only one new food at a time, that too in small quantities (remember food neophobia!). The best strategy is to introduce these foods during first half of the day when the kid is less tired (they tend to refuse to eat when tired); you can also introduce it during morning/evening snack times when they are most hungry.

9. Gagging: happens if your toddler is eating too fast or eating something that they don’t like! To help, cut foods in smaller bite sized pieces and encourage them to chew it and eat slowly.

10. Who’s the real culprit?🔎🔎🔎 “Juice is!”

Juices are loaded with sugar and if consumed in greater quantities are no better for your baby than a regular soda! They also silently kill your babies’ appetite.

So stick to the rule of no more than 4 ounces (half a cup) of juice/day. You can really go a step ahead and dilute it with water.



“So my rock-star mommies, if you think your baby is not eating enough, yes there are ways that you can go, there are strategies that you can implement and there are tricks that you can try! But before you do that, take a moment and examine your own motive! Are you really worried because your baby is not eating or are you worried because your baby looks scrawnier than the neighbor’s baby? Your baby is probably eating how much ever he/she should be eating. Only time you should be worried is if your pediatrician measures your baby’s growth and concludes that their growth is stunted! In which case I hope this article will be of some use to you :)”

Find a pediatrician near you @DawaiBox.

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