Many of us at some point in our life have faced an injury or accident and are told to take bed rest for a few weeks, put our leg or foot in a cast and are not allowed to go for walks etc. Not only is this very frustrating but for many of us who are weight conscious or in a profession, which requires us to stay fit and trim, it’s a nightmare. We know that the weight will shoot up. What is the solution? Everybody around will have many suggestions but what is scientifically the best way to handle this.
The first thing most of us would do is to cut down food intake or skip meals, as we know we cannot burn as many calories as we would earlier. Please note, this is the most dangerous step you can take, as the body will slow down the metabolic rate or BMR when it finds that you are drastically cutting down your input of calories. Its simple logic, income is less so cut down expenditure or burning of calories.
This is the time when you have to seriously take stock of the quality of your food without cutting down the quantity. e.g. One slice of wheat bread is 50 calories, where as one samosa is almost 200 calories, with lots of fat. This is the time to completely cut out foods that contain more fat and therefore more calories. You must continue to eat all your three meals, properly balanced with carbohydrate and protein food. You may season your food with minimum oil but all extra fat and fatty foods must be completely cut out. Don’t butter your bread but continue to eat two slices of bread for breakfast. Don’t snack on deep fried foods but eat a low calories cracker or dry toast with your tea at tea time. Have fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth and completely avoid sweets, pastries and desserts.
When you fracture your foot you have to put it in a cast to immobilize it for 6-8 weeks. This helps to set the bone and you may walk again. Similarly you have to immobilize fatty foods from entering your body for the few weeks that you are laid up.
The next step is to eat plenty of fiber. Fiber is hard to digest and every time you eat it, right from chewing it to getting it broken down inside your body, there is more work happening and you will be burning more calories. This helps finally to keep your metabolism up as well. One of the most important changes is to ensure that the carbohydrate part of your meal, namely the cereals must be whole grains instead of polished cereal. We would advice you to completely give up rice and rice items as they are polished. So this would include rice idli, dosa, appam, akki rotti, pongal, beaten rice etc. and substitute these with ragi items, cornflakes, oats etc. Also white maida bread must be replaced with atta bread and dry chapathi. Rava, vermicelli, noodles, pasta must be avoided and broken wheat or dahlia used in its place. Remember it’s only for a short duration of time. Lunch and dinner rice must be avoided. Ragi ball and phulka or dry chapatti must replace rice.
Raw salads are a must with both lunch and dinner and if possible may be eaten even with a sandwich at breakfast to raise the metabolism. All juices must be avoided and fresh fruits must be eaten as it is easy to drink and swallow the juice where as much more work is involved in chewing and digesting a fruit with its fiber. Apple, pear, orange, musambi, pomegranate and guavas are the ideal fruits to eat as they have plenty of fiber.
Please note that for a normal healthy person it is harmful to try to lose weight by only dieting without regular exercise, as there will be deterioration of the muscle and loss of muscles mass which inturn will lower the BMR. The above mentioned plan is to be used only in a situation where there is no choice and rest has been medically prescribed for a short duration.