We are back with a new expert and this time it’s time to introduce you to one of the most well-known health experts, influencers, expert in food and nutrition- Mariam Begg.
Mariam Begg loves putting up healthy recipes, organizing workshops, suggestions and recommendations on organic products and is the believer in healthy foods and holistic health.
Mariam shares with Mums and Stories, “I was born into a Muslim, Anglo-Indian family and food was the center of everything we did. I got addicted to sugar pretty early on which led to loads of health issues growing up . Whether celebrations or occasions, there was always a reason for sweets and meat.
Because food was such an inseparable part of my life, I indulged in it very often. Sweets were and still are my absolute favourite food. Over the years it became my addiction and I didn’t realize the havoc it was wreaking. From my teeth to my lethargy, it was changing my health for the worse.
This problem got more serious as I became a model. Working for almost 20 years in over 400 shoots, traveling all over India and the world, was stressful, anxious and erratic. As a model, and to stay thin I tried all kinds of diets, did all kinds of workouts. Having pushed myself too hard, exercising myself to exhaustion, binging on too much on sugar and caffeine for energy boosts and an erratic food schedule with yo-yo dieting, I was at my unhealthy best if outwardly healthy.
I had developed multiple health problems; PCOD, allergies, brain fog, sleep issues, sugar spikes, cervical spondylosis and even had a surgery. I hated what I was doing to my body and felt disconnected to it. It took several years, looking inwards, trying to understand why things were spiraling out of control to realize the kind of damage being done to my body. Thereafter slowly, I first started learning about clean food choices, clean environments, food politics, the chemicals in our environments and most importantly how our emotions dictate our health.
My basic tips for others would be to eat clean and healthy as much as possible, eat fresh, buy what you eat yourself if possible, watch for emotional eating while stressed and drink plenty of water.
(Spirulised Veggies. Photograph by Mariam Begg).
Do note that eating out isn’t wrong nor can buying packaged food be avoided. The best way of making changes at home is to make food yourself, incorporate many veggies into the diet, eliminate processed foods as much as possible and only when absolutely necessary and prep in advance.
Teach the family not to expect a fancy gourmet meal from a different world cuisine every night.
Get kids involved in understanding food sources, and getting them to touch and help with food prep and cooking will help them learn about foods that nourish.
Steamed purees of beetroot, carrot , spinach help add different natural colours to food that can make them look more interesting. Adding flavours like ginger, garlic, herbs like coriander and mint, sweetening with dates and nuts are all game changers in changing food choices.
I’m constantly changing my presentation and ingredients and this variety is very important especially in children with lower appetites. Adding lemon rind, herbs, nuts, seeds etc. to dishes not only makes it look interesting but also ups the nutritional content of the food at the same time.
Here’s one recipe that is on my routine.
WHAT GOES IN MY SMOOTHIE?
The healthiest meal of my day, smoothie is also the most consistent. I probably have around 750ml of it at least 6 days a week!
Its my way of easily getting in tonnes of nutrition that would not be possible if I had to sit and chew on every ingredient I put it. Its also an easy way for me to add in those superfood powders like moringa, brahmi that dont taste great on their own.
So whats an easy combination for those wanting to start putting this super boosting meal into your diets?
Here is an easy guide :
STEP 1: 2 Cups of any 3 types Green leaves (Spinach, Lettuce, Kale, Collard or any Soppu)
STEP 2: 2 Cups of Any fruits ( Berries, Banana, Avocado, Chikoo or any other locally Sourced seasonally available fruits)
STEP 3: 1/4th cup of Seeds or nuts ( Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Sesame Seeds or Activated Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts)
STEP 4: 2tsp Super boost powders ( Amla, Green protein, Spirulina, Ashwagandha etc)
STEP 5: 1 Cup fresh coconut water or any nut milk
STEP 6: Toppings: Few fruit pieces, raisins, Goji berries, nuts, hemp Seeds.
Add more water if too thick and blend it all together.
Some pointers to keep in mind:
* Keep aside some fruit, nuts and berries for the topping as its very important to chew – the first step in digestion
* Try and buy organic, non GMO produce from clean sources as this is raw
* Can be sweetened with dates if required
* Always soak your nuts and wash to activate them. This ups their nutrition quotient and makes it easier for digestion
* Flax and chia should be a constant. They are fabulous fiber, good fat and so much more
On a final note, whether adults or kids, food habits are learned behaviour and it is important that children know what they consume, the freshness of vegetables, what are their characteristics and how they help. It’s alright to be plump and thin, what matters is how healthy your child is and what he is consuming on a daily basis. Also understanding mental make up, peer pressure as well as personality can be key in learning about what your kids eat and why.”
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