cooked food on black ceramic bowl

Dr. Rehana Kousar, Consultant maternal and Child health says a combination of a sedentary lifestyle and eating a diet rich in fat and calories is a recipe for disaster.

“Most people who walk or exercise during summer give up in winter because of the cold and less daylight hours. Plus, the body is hidden in layers of clothing inside a Pheran making it difficult to see the rolls of flesh and fat that accumulate on our bodies,” she said.

“Let’s remember that moderation is the key in eating. It is perfectly okay to eat harissa or a pizza or mithai once in a while but do not make it an everyday affair or binge on it. Also do not forget to exercise,” she said.

As far as diet is concerned Dr. Rehana simplifies it for better compliance:

Lean protein:

Lean meat is a good source of protein with a low fat and calorie content. Red meat like lamb or beef is a good source of protein but you need to trim all the visible fat to make it lean.

Poultry is a good source of lean protein along with vitamin B and choline (keeps nerves healthy). Ensure meat is cooked thoroughly and never reheat cooked meat repeatedly.

Another good source of low-fat, high-quality protein is fish which is available in abundance in Kashmir. Fish is packed with omega 3 fatty acids which reduce the risk of stroke and maintain heart health. It also contains vitamin D, B2, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week as part of a healthy diet. Eggs are also a superb source of protein and very easily available, easy to cook and can be cooked in literally hundreds of ways. A good and cheap source of lean protein is pulses and grams which should be incorporated in the diet.

Nuts and seedsnuts and seeds

These tiny but mighty superfoods are a heart-healthy snack and powerhouses of nutrition. Eating a few almonds or a couple of walnuts daily can reduce cholesterol.

However, avoid the processed salted and fried variety available in the market. Similarly, walnuts are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and promote good heart health.


Whole grains

Rice and wheat are staple foods in Kashmiri households. They help to keep us full and satisfied but the key is to eat less refined stuff and reduce the portion size.


Leafy greens

Leafy greens are brimming with fiber, vitamins and minerals and are a low-calorie option. In addition to our local haakh, try eating radish and turnip greens, dandelion greens (handd), cauliflowers and broccoli.

A lot of households use sun-dried veggies in winter. Although it is an age-old custom, we should limit its use because during the process of drying fungal contamination occurs and eating too much of it can lead to cancers of the GI tract.


Sugar can give us a happy boost which is short-lived but the bad effects are alarming. Keep off sugar. If possible, give up sugary drinks completely. Among Kashmiris eating bakery goodies like cake, bakarkhani, kulcha is a very big factor in causing diabetes and obesity. Eat but in moderation as a treat not as a daily routine.

Soups especially trotter/bone broth:

Also called “Pachi” in local parlance, trotters have a lot of bone, tough connective tissue and skin. It needs to be cooked slowly for the meat to become tender. It is a rich source of collagen, protein and fat and lacks carbs and fiber. Besides being yummy on a cold winter evening it helps fight joint pain, inflammation and gives healthy skin.



Drinks to consume during winter

Drink plenty of water. You can drink cold water or warm water but keep yourself hydrated at all times. Most people do not drink water in winter but we sweat a lot in winter and need water to replenish the losses as well as for metabolism.


Kehwa with Dalchini or cinnamon is a wonderfully flavored drink. Cinnamon contains a compound that helps to reduce inflammation and is also helpful in maintaining blood sugar. Add some ginger for a boost.


We can have tulsi tea, ginger tea and our regular tea in winter for warmth and hydration but do not add sugar. Honey is also a source of sugar and gets converted to glucose in the body. Hence, go slow on sugar or sugar substitutes.


Although every Kashmiri loves noonchai (salt tea), the salt content has to be reduced. Please go easy on salt and sugar this winter.

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