Thursday, 22 March 2018

Smart Moms Start Early #FeedIQ

"What? Only one spoonful of ghee?" exclaims my gran indignantly as she snatches the bottle from my hand and goes on to ladle four more spoonsful. "Now, that's more like it! Tell me what do you feel like eating? Shall I make your favourite mysorepak or maybe some badam halwa? I'll make both of them," she decides.

I was on the fifth month of my pregnancy, already having gained some 10+ kgs since the onset of the term with four more months of such decadency ahead! I dreaded passing by a mirror and worse stepping on the weighing scales, as my gynaec looked disapprovingly at my excessive weight gain. Fast forward four months ahead, I was 18 kgs bulkier from my pre-pregnancy weight. Thankfully the delivery was smooth but I never managed to completely shed all the extra kgs I'd gained by eating for two, succumbing to my gastronomic cravings and the pampering foodie love showered by family and friends. 

A first time mother goes from being a naive, inexperienced person to assuming the mantle of motherhood, learning all about taking care of her new-born partly through instinct and partly with help and advice from elders in her family and her support system. Nutrition during pregnancy has always been considered important. That an expecting mother should be fed with the choicest of nutritious foods and be kept in a happy frame of mind is not something new. 

Image source: Pixabay

With evolving technology, mothers now have the added advantage of modern research and studies within their reach to help them on the journey of motherhood at every stage. I wish I had known during my pregnancy some very informative and interesting facts that I am about to share with you.

Did you know that, 
A child's brain development begins from conception, with 90% of the child's brain development happening by the age of 2 years

Requisite right nutrition, and stimulation or infant brain exercises are necessary to build neural connections and encourage brain growth, both crucial factors for a child's brain development? 

Genetics also affect the brain development of a child but since they cannot be altered, would-be moms and new moms need to focus on getting the nutrition and stimulation aspects right.

Have you to-be moms heard of Feed IQ?

Feed IQ literally means that a mother feeds 'IQ' to her baby through breastfeeding and stimulation i.e. infant brain exercises.

Mommies to-be and new mommies you gotta START EARLY!

Nutrition for brain development of infants

Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation impacts the growth and development of the foetus and adds to the maturity of a healthy baby. The right nutrition during pregnancy leads to improved health of the baby. Mother's diet is the primary source of energy, protein and other nutrients in breast milk. Insufficient calories or lack of macro and micronutrients during pregnancy can result in shortage of building materials essential for foetal development. Pre-term infants need high energy and micronutrients to prevent further deficiencies and support normal growth

Today, with improved awareness and proven research, many myths surrounding nutrition during pregnancy have been bust. Most pregnant women have to hear, "Don't eat this, don't eat that, are you eating enough....!" and when they are new mothers, they get unsolicited advice from everyone possible on how to raise the baby right!

Gran darling, I do wish you could have read this: Common Myths and Facts about Pregnancy Nutrition.

Brain exercise for child brain development

The age-old traditions of a pregnant woman listening to soothing music and chanting progressing to singing lullabies, making babyish conversations, playing peek-a-boo, stacking toys, sorting shapes, reading out aloud, finger painting, dancing,  etc. with the infant are important activities that are now called 'brain exercises' that help a baby's brain develop. 
An interesting fact is that the amount of cumulative vocabulary by 2 years of age in a child is enormously predictive of later brain development of the child's IQ.

Brain exercises with increasing levels of complexity starting from the time the child is born up to two years of age will help develop the baby's vision, hearing, tactile/sensory, linguistic and cognitive skills. Do look up here to enrich your baby's cognitive development.

Here are some helpful pointers for new moms to monitor and gauge the child's development:

To all dear expecting moms, new moms of pre-term, full-term babies, 
You need to be aware of the impact your diet has on the growth and development of your child. Right nutrition combined with stimulating infant brain exercises will ensure the right development of your baby's brain. You could look up this extremely resourceful website for more information:

Be aware, be informed, eat right, be happy and have and raise a healthy baby! 
Remember you gotta START EARLY!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the blog are my own. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for expecting or new mothers

­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Spreading Thyroid Awareness #RuleOutThyroWeight

There are quite a few women in my acquaintances that I am in awe of. One of them is my friend Sona (name changed), working mother of two. This lady is a bundle of energy and sunshine, always on her toes with a wide smile on her face. One day when she stayed over at my place on an official trip, I observed her popping a pill first thing in the morning. When I asked her about it, she casually mentioned that she suffers from hypothyroidism and has been on medication for years. On probing further she explained that in her late teens she suddenly started putting on weight and felt tired all the time. Despite following a strict diet, neither the weight nor her lethargy and fatigue decreased. Though the weight gain wasn't substantial, her parents were worried about it. A visit to the physician and a few tests later she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and put on a lifelong dose for the same. The results of the medication were almost miraculous, she says and I can well believe it as I have seen her bustling about, juggling a family and a successful career, all with a cheerful smile. 

This revelation about my friend led me to wonder about Thyroid Disorders. It is baffling to know that 1 in 10 Indians suffer from thyroid disorders of which women are more prone to it. 
I was fortunate to attend a blogger meet organized to spread Thyroid awareness.

Eloquent and well-known endocrinologist, Dr Shehla Shaikh shed light on lesser known facts and bust some myths revolving around Thyroid disorders. 
The event received support from much loved Bollywood diva Juhi Chawla
Juhi shared her personal experience of her husband and father in-law and one of her staff members who lead perfectly healthy and fulfilling lives despite having a thyroid disorder.
The Thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck, secretes the hormones T3 and T4 which have an effect on almost all tissues of the body. The thyroid hormones affect the metabolic rate, influence growth, development and reproduction. 

A dysfunctional thyroid gland may lead to the more common hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) or the less common hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormone).
So any imbalance in the thyroid hormone will affect all parts of the body and its activities like breathing, BODY WEIGHT, cholesterol, muscle strength, menstrual cycle, pregnancy etc.

Thyroweight is a unique concept that helps increase awareness about Thyroid disorders. In most cases when we experience small to moderate weight gain, we dismiss it as something normal, blaming it on factors ranging from heredity, sedentary lifestyle, improper diet habits etc. This is where 'thyroweight' should flash, we need to seriously consider that the sudden, small weight gain could be due to an underlying thyroid disorder.
Some symptoms of thyroid disorders:

For more information please visit:

A timely simple blood test, the Thyroid Function Test (TSH) can quite easily detect and rule out if you are suffering from a thyroid malfunction. #RuleOutThyroweight is something which every person needs to resolve if faced by symptoms of small weight gain, along with fatigue, hair fall etc.

Dr Shehla informed us that thyroid levels tend to fluctuate in certain women during pregnancy. Hence it is important to get the thyroid test done as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed.

It is also important to understand that one does not need to become depressed or worry relentlessly about it. With medical advancements, thyroid disorders can be very effectively be managed, 
  • Through timely detection 
  • With the aid of medicines 
  • Following a routine healthy lifestyle
So dear friends, how often do you complain of fatigue, tiredness, lethargy, irritability, hair fall, weight gain along with changes in your menstrual cycle
If you do complain often then it's high time you made a trip to your physician/endocrinologist. It makes a lot of sense to get these symptoms diagnosed because these supposedly innocuous symptoms could well be because you are suffering from a Thyroid disorder. Give a thought to #RuleOutThyroweight if you are above 35 years of age, have a family history of thyroid disorders or have any of the above symptoms, just go and get yourself checked.

Our multi-tasking roles as mother, wife, daughter, employee, entrepreneur, etc. are not easy to pull off if we don't have good health. It therefore makes sense to not ignore these niggling symptoms and rule out a disorder like thyroid imbalance. And hey, the treatment is perfectly simple and treatable!
The earlier the better, why wait for conditions to worsen? 

Loving your family and doing your duties is good but keeping yourself healthy so that you can continue to effectively do your job is more important! 
You owe it to YOURSELF!

Having a Thyroid disorder should not dampen your spirits, energy or focus to succeed in any field or have a life as good anyone else!

'Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on thyroid awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for people having thyroid problems. Any reader of this blog suffering from thyroid problems should specifically consult his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.'

Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

When Twilight hit me

I sit with a befuddled mind and a goofy grin, alternating my time between my kindle and laptop screens. A good decade or more after the book followed by the movie franchise is done with being the rage and heart-throb of scores of young teens, this old mommy digs into it out of a passing curiosity. Little did she know that this paranormal fantasy romance that she so belittled and trivialized years ago would zap her thus! After all this time...
Yes, my dears, I am talking about...err...the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, something I scoffed at and refused to give even a passing glance has me totally hooked and irrevocably in love to the point of (I never thought I'd say this) obsession! Might as well attribute this episode of giddy-headedness to mid-life crisis!

How did this happen you wonder, well that makes two of us! A few days ago, cursory channel surfing and lack of nothing better to watch led me to freeze on Twilight, the movie. And...I liked the movie, hey don't raise those eyebrows yet, I was surprised myself! Rob Pattinson's intense, brooding good looks wouldn't leave me in peace. 
I thought, what the hell, lemme just check out if the movies and the books are worth the overwhelming rage they were all those years back. After all, for one who's grown up on a healthy dose of Rhett Butler, Darcy, Heathcliff and all the dashing Mills & Boons, Nora Roberts and the lot, with heroes from millionaire playboys to paranormal characters it was a matter of having seen them all. 
An instant later the book was on my kindle and hours later I resurfaced, a changed person, one my sane self looked at a tad disparagingly with a, 'Oh really?'! Back to back I read all the four books in the series - Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

Edward Cullen
My life's mantra for the past few weeks has been Edward Cullen. Putting a face to this devastatingly good-looking vampire while I was reading was no easy matter, considering I had to contend with the official movie characterization à la Pattinson. What can I say, MY imaginary Edward is legions more desirable than him! Oh, the power of the written word and the flights of imagination! 

Sigh, it would all be pretty great if I weren't having such not so proper thoughts about a teen fixation, that too ages after the jubilation and frenzy has died down! Whether I like it or not, whether my age begets more mature infatuations or none at all, I am helpless for the deed is done - The immortal lover has taken a firm grip on my heart, while my mind continues to snigger disdainfully at such juvenile pash.

I wouldn't consider putting all these observations on record if it was just the matter of a whimsical one time read and the enjoyment derived therein. The Twilight Saga has something of an addictive quality to it that I am trying to fathom. I have already run through the entire series of four books twice in the last few days. When I am not reading the book, I devote myself to watching the movies online from dubious sites I've dug up, plaguing all my gal-pals relentlessly dissecting the book (read Edward Cullen), looking up Twilight fandoms, gazing at screensavers of Rob Pattinson and stalking him on social media for good measure. (Ye gods, the horrors I am upto these days!)

So what is it about the Twilight Saga, both the books and the movies, that I find so enthralling? 
What is it that has driven hordes of teens and women world-over to go weak-kneed in love-sickness? (I googled to check if I was the only one thus addicted
Isn't it just a teen-romance aimed to attract that gen? 
I am obviously not doing this as a proper book review but just picking bits and pieces of what stayed back with me about this book. (Family rolling its eyes, friends crying out, 'Enough already!' not withstanding!)

Twilight quite simply tugs at the inner romantic in you. The clumsy, regular-looking, self-deprecating, insecure heroine, Bella Swan is someone many of us women can relate to. Bella can never quite believe that someone as mind-blowing as Edward can reciprocate her love for him, it's kinda like something too good to be true and so it comes with a spanner in the works - the vampire angle. Bella is protective of the ones she loves and her willingness to go to extremes to save them warms you to her. The first person narrative from Bella's perspective, makes you feel more into the story.
The out-of-this-world (literally), super-natural, immortal, God-like, unbelievably attractive Edward Cullen however is hands-down the biggest draw! It is obviously not his physical traits alone that matter, even though Edward is this super-strong, virtually indestructible immortal who's agile, graceful, with a voice to die for, smells exotic, looks good enough to eat....well, I need to stop getting carried away!
The Edward that attracts you is this super-sensitive, intense guy with only one agenda on his mind, his all consuming desire to protect the love of his life (his only love in a century...sighh) to the point of obsession. 
His chivalry, his generosity, his old-worldly gallantry, his attentiveness to Bella, his interest in every aspect of her life, his need to be with her through her every waking hour, to watch her while she sleeps, his restraint, his broodiness, his desire to fulfill her every wish, for spouting the most heart-stopping dialogues (do give a look to some of my fav Edward Cullen lines at the end of this postand for being the most unselfish, self-sacrificing guy ever...swoon, swoon, swoon and swoon some more!

Logically speaking it makes no sense whatsoever to me that these are traits I would appreciate immeasurably or interminably in the man of my dreams. Gosh, what a psycho peeping tom, controlling freak and a stick-on leech I would say, especially considering Edward is technically a blood-sucking vampire for pity's sake! Then why are all the gals going ga-ga over him?

Because he panders to the illogical heart, places his love's well-being and needs over his own, because human nature craves attention and love, that belies all logic and chases after the impossible, the thrill of mortal danger, and probably because forbidden love is all the more enticing! 

And then there is the other lead protagonist, human-to-wolf shape shifting, Jacob Black. No love story is replete without the love triangle, remember? Jacob Black is the perfect blend of recklessly handsome hunk, brute strength, heightened passion with a vulnerable side, to create all those conflicting emotions within Bella. But like Bella, once you are smitten by Edward all else pales into insignificance!

The weird werewolf concept of 'imprinting' doesn't feel all that weird when it is described as,
It’s not like love at first sight, really. It’s more like…gravity moves…suddenly. It’s not the earth holding you here anymore, she does…You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that’s a protector, or a lover, or a friend.
Intense much? But it works...surprise, surprise!

Blood-thirsty, sparkly, centuries old vampires, shape-shifting teens, Bella's desperate desire to change into a vampire, werewolf imprinting, all this doesn't freak, disturb or revolt you as you might actually expect them to, now that is something worth pondering!
The other supporting characters of the story like Bella's brusque dad Charlie, flitty mum Renee and Edward's vampire family comprising Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie, are all individually well-essayed characters that manage to tug at the heartstrings, the intriguing Quileute legends in the background making up the visual imagery of this book. Bella and Edward however are the ones that will stay with you. 

The easy flow of the books, steady pace that doesn't wane, suspense that keeps building up, the simple yet lucid language and the author's love for classics like Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet (my favs too) shines through. Meyer's vivid description of the scenes and situations, be it the dull, perennially cold and wet weather of Forks or the beautiful locale of Isle Esme, the blood-thirsty fights, the book takes you right there. The characterizations are amazingly vivid without being overtly descriptive allowing the readers to cook up their own versions. The romantic scenes though pretty chaste are sensual in their restraint, which I'd say is a coup in itself, less is more sometimes!

Despite my initial chagrin at devouring a book for teen audiences, I feel happy I fell in love with it! Age no bar for love, right?
That said, I am definitely relieved that I didn't read this series at a more impressionable age, it is doubtful I'd have ever settled for anyone less perfect than Edward Cullen!
Any of you fellow OCD-ing (Obsessive Cullen Disorder) Team Edward gals out there reading this, feel free to reach out to me, let's gush OME (Oh my Edward) in the comments below 💓💓😍😍
Some Edward Cullen lines that make the heart skip a few beats...

Edward Cullen quotes RelaxNRave

Tempted? You could pick up these books from right here* :)

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Linking this post to the #ChattyBlogs Linky hosted by my friend Shantala Nayak of Shanaya Tales

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy those products at through this link, I will get a tiny referral fee, at no additional cost to you. 

­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

19 Memes to make you smile

Hiya peeps, so I've been hooked to memes ever since my kids kept bombarding me with them. And whaddya know? The electric bulb in my head flickered and hey presto! 
Here are some memes I created that will hopefully make you smile! Cheers 😊

1) When folks around you are discussing politics, tech, history, economics, sports...

2) When your kid sees you trying your new dance move at a party...

I wish I was adopted

3) When you come face to face with folks at the mall just moments after you'd called them to say you were down with the flu...

Just kill me

4) When it's time to get ready for a party...

I have nothing to wear

5) When you call the air hostess to ask for a blanket...

Call me again if you dare

6) When you come around for the umpteenth time to remind the offspring that the clothes-pile would be better off inside the cupboard instead of under his bottom...

Not you again

7) When you ask your pal to return borrowed money, books, bike, clothes etc...

There goes Shylock again

8) What everyone at an alumni meet is thinking...

I am better than these losers

9) When your boss is delivering his rote-learned presentation...

Try interrupting me

10) When your elder bro/sis sees what you've done to their favorite outfit that you borrowed for the evening...

Say your prayers

11) When you sob your heart out over the back-stabbing friends mom had warned you about...

Mom knows best

12) When you decide to run away from home...

Hotel? Trivago

13) When you are trapped sitting between the over eager couple you are visiting with their 50 kg wedding album firmly placed on your lap...

You can pray but you cannot escape

14) When your man is about to tackle that lizard on the wall...

Man on mission

15) When your man successfully navigates GPS to take you across town...

Im too cool

16) When your man concentrates on the immense task of getting ice cubes from the freezer while you are elbow deep in pasta, noodles and what not for the party ahead....

Relax baby, I got the ice

17) When you finish reading a brilliant, unputdownable book...

What will I do with my life now

18) When you ask your snooty colleague for help...
(This one's for all fellow Potterheads)
This is not Hogwart's, is it?

19) When people come to know that you have your own blog and it even has readers...

What is this world coming to...

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­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI

Thursday, 4 January 2018

To Dance or not to Dance?

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Anybody can dance, they say.
Not everybody should dance, I say.

A peculiar childhood affliction that refuses to go away or palliate with age - The insubordination of limbs, especially under the influence of music. Yes, these are the confessions of a born non-dancer.

One remembers with a shudder those traumatizing moments of the wonder years when called upon by the elders of the family (a.k.a monster ragging committee) to take center stage and entertain the populace with one's accomplishments. Sadly for me and even sadder for my parents, I could neither sing nor dance, the mandated traits of a south-Indian upbringing. Well, to be fair the parents tried enrolling me for singing lessons but I couldn't make sense of learning the 'swararas', 'raagas' and 'taals'. Why would I want to learn them when I could sing 'Ek, do, teen..chaar panch, ....' perfectly? Of course, it wouldn't go down well with the stiff upper lip audiences to sing that number or 'Choli ke peeche kya he...', however tunefully! 

Dance on the other hand, I was very keen about and eager to learn. I gazed at beautiful femme fatales dancing in movies and knew I had dance in me, I could feel it in my bones, though they didn't exactly know it - the bones I mean. 
If I wanted to move my legs in a particular direction, they went the other way and if the arms came into the picture, it was even worse. And how on earth does the waist operate? Add music, and the situation becomes direr, not one step in sync with a beat! 
It's like this, I cannot comprehend what part of the body to move or how to move it to make a particular dance step happen! 
You can't get what I am saying? Watching me dance is like watching a remote operated dancing doll with a serious malfunction, yeah totally weird! Something to do with basic motor skills or muscular co-ordination, I would say. 
People just had to utter the word dance and the little me would set off in full steam. Arms, legs, head and whatever else moving in gay abandon! The parents seeing their offspring hopelessly gyrate thus, kindly refrained from encouraging me to dance for the said family gatherings. 

When a neighborhood aunty volunteered to conduct free kathak lessons, I jumped at the opportunity. But the ta-thai-thai, tat-a-thai-thai was too slow for me. Man, I wanted to groove to Bollywood and western numbers. Anyway by the end of three free classes, the danseuse aunty gave up the venture under the pretext of a bad back. And that was also the last of my formal dance training. Still my mom, the ever enthusiastic parent garbed me in her own version of a bharatnatyam costume and set me up on the fancy dress stage to perform my profound learning of 1.5 kathak steps. Till date I haven't forgotten the chuckles and sniggers in the audiences at my appearance and performance. Childhood scars take long to heal they say. 

Fast forward to college days. I felt terribly deprived and let down when the entire class went up on stage for a group dance leaving me to handle the music and backstage operations. Yeah, yeah I had auditioned, humphh!

Time and age mellow down old habits. Says who? My insubordinate limbs continued their way of life and I continued deluding myself that it was just that I hadn't found the right frame of mind to learn the trick of the twirl! 
I decided to observe and learn. Yes, I learned quite a bit then. See, it was nothing to do with grace and agility, one needed the right facial expressions while dancing. I observed that you had to lip sync all that the DJ played whether or not you knew the song, it looked so cool! You had to scrunch your eyes and bite your lips for certain raunchy numbers. Then of course you closed your eyes and lolled your head for trance numbers. Armed with this new ammunition I launched my new dance avatar at the next party. I tell you, I totally let myself go, emotionally connecting with the music. My face spewing a million expressions in tandem with the numbers being belted out. And what happens? A gentleman comes up to me with genuine concern and asks if I am alright. Another hurries to fetch me a glass of water and a third calls up the ambulance. Arghhh!

Dance like no one's watching.
Dance when no one's watching.

After that incident, I avoided all events which required me to dance. Of course if the event was held in dim light or even better flickering disco lights which make even a PT exercise session look like a terrific dance sequence, I took full advantage of the moment!

Years passed and I found a better half who was actually that, better, no, an amazing dancer! You can't imagine my apprehension at seeing my babies toddle and totter awkwardly to music or the profound relief when I see them today effortlessly glide and gracefully pirouette to any music. Yeah! The kind of relief that a deaf-dumb couple has when they see their child is perfect in every sense! Remember the movie Koshish, featuring Sanjeev Kumar-Jaya Bhaduri? The difference here being, only one parent (me) was dance-challenged!

Several years down the line, I am still on a self-imposed dance abstinence. I stoically hold on to a brimming mocktail glass or a loaded snack platter, merely tapping my feet to the music, off sync of course but still way more dignified than going on my dancepage (dance+rampage)! 
The spouse, the children, friends, every one implores me to dance but in vain. The more I refuse, the more folks pine to see me dance. They want the demure/timid me to let my hair down (little knowing of the tandav I am capable of unleashing). They drag me center stage and urge me to do just a wee shake, pretty please! At events, people start betting on whether I will shake a leg or not. It seems to be everyone's one point agenda and aim in life - to see me dance. 
Aha! Life has come a full circle. When you are free and willing to do something, no one values it and when you play hard to get, somehow you become all the more enticing!

So now at any event where dancing is involved, all eyes are riveted on me, waiting, watching and craving for the improbable to happen. Sometimes I relent graciously, doing a gentle body sway (mastered after hours of diligent practice) and on very rare occasions, a bit of foot tapping accompanied by a hip move (I figured this one by repeatedly pushing heavy sofas around the house) and whaddya know? The party erupts in convulsive happiness at having witnessed this incredible sight. 
I've found the solution to my dancepitude (dance+ineptitude), create demand by restricted supply!

Sharing a much loved ad from the 90's of this gal's dance of joy and total abandonment!

­­Copyright © 2018 KALA RAVI