I have often come across loads of queries related to healthy eating, and it is a topic that instantly connects with people, leading to many conversations and discussions. A myth which most people carry is that a healthy diet means strict rules to abide by, which in a sense is true, you do have to abide by rules but you don’t have to starve yourself. With all the options in ingredients available today, a healthy diet can also be fun and fulfilling.
To begin with, let us take a moment, analyse the situation and ask ourselves 2 simple questions: Firstly, why is it that we want to adopt this concept of healthy eating?
Secondly, besides just looking forward to cutting off the inches on the waistline, are we prepared for it mentally, as well?
The replies I got really surprised me, most people only wanted to adopt a healthy diet to achieve short term goals, a momentary phase in life, they wanted that perfect shape, to look good for a wedding or birthday or some other important occasion in their life. However, healthy eating cannot be a temporary measure, you have to inculcate these healthy habits and make it a way of life, not just some goal oriented activity. So, let us on a positive note try to modify our day to day intake of foods, at a slow pace, start gradually and work on it, it cannot be an overnight revolution.
Here are 10 simple ways to get the positive change onto your plates and achieve long term benefits to your health.
Pack in those nutrients: The basic thought process on what and when to eat needs to change. We have to incorporate ways to make our diet more effective and beneficial for our body. A good start will be adding more of whole grains to our diets like oatmeal, barley, whole grain /multi grain breads. Also recommended are the millets and varieties.
Lean up the proteins: If you wish to follow a non-veg diet, include lean chicken breast, legs and thighs as a part of your recipes. For vegetarians tofu or paneer is a wonder ingredient and can be used in varied forms, few more thing to add to the list are egg whites, lentils, fruits, vegetable, low fat or fat free dairy products, low fat milk, almond milk etc. Choose your food wisely, avoid things with solid fats like cream, butter, added sugars and salts, candies, baked goodies, sugary drinks, chips, burgers, fries and all fast foods.
Power up your breakfast plates: I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times “have breakfast like a king”! This adage definitely holds true, but unfortunately with our hectic schedules and odd work hours most of us can’t take in that hearty breakfast everyday and sadly many of us end up skipping breakfast completely. A simple solution to this would be time management skills and fixing up your menus well in advance. Make a list and post it on your fridge, guiding you on the pre-preparation of dishes. A few simple suggestions would be to have fruits, any simple cooked egg preparations, whole grain bread, a glass of milk or a smoothie or yogurt as well, which has some great probiotic properties. Avoid deep fried foods early morning, go in for steamed, oil free stuff as far as possible.
Plan your scheduled bites and munchies: Timely munchies and scheduled eating is a good habit to form, eating a quick snack every 2-3 hours keeps the metabolism going. Set a fixed time to have those quick in between bites. I once had an appointment with a professional consultant and he asked for 5 mins between 2 meetings saying that it was important for him to grab a bite and it was a scheduled moment to munch. You can carry healthy nuts, crackers, fruits etc. and keep them on your desk, set reminders on your mobiles saying “my munch time” and make sure you don’t skip that munch time.
The H20 formula: I cannot stress enough on the importance of drinking Water, in the right quantity and in the correct way. In my observation most people don’t know how to drink water properly, I have seen people just gulping down the entire bottle of water at a time which doesn’t really signal a positive sign. You need to drink water ideally in an upright sitting position and that too in small quantities as far as possible. “Eat your water and drink your food” is something I picked up from a learned person! Some people also keep a target of 6 to 8 glasses per day, sounds strange to me, I would suggest have water as and when needed, you don’t really need to over water your system, as they say – go with the flow!
Big things come in small packages: It has been observed that when you consume too much food at a time, it puts a lot of pressure on the digestive system, it leads to heaviness and affects the efficiency of the activities to be carried out post that heavy meal and in turn adds on to unused calories as well. Therefore, some honest advice would be to always eat smaller meals at quicker intervals rather than one big meal. To encourage smaller meals, take a smaller plate for lunch or dinner, you will by default serve smaller portions on your plate, set a target count on how many helpings you can take and most importantly ensure you chew your food well, many people ignore doing this, it can lead to indigestion, heart burns etc.
Methodical & wise Methods of Cooking: A simple alteration to start with is also changes in the way we cook our food. Modify your cooking methods, erase off deep frying, shallow frying from your menus, work on steamed, boiled and stir fried concepts. Include roasting and baking as a method of cooking in your favorite recipes. There are loads of people who have been following these patterns and it has over time become a way of life for them.
Let the greens take the lead: Make a little shift of ingredients on your plate, get the greens to take the lead on the fork and spoon and follow it up with other components of your meal. It simple means have greens of all types like spinach, lettuce, kale, micro-greens, cabbage etc. which are rich in many essential nutrients for our body. People do have salads with their meal but the level of importance needs to be raised. Let the greens be the main ingredients and follow with the rest.
Supplement your body where required: Most of us do try and eat a wholesome diet, but it is a fact that there is quite a bit of lacuna or a gap which needs to be filled up effectively by add on supplements. Each one of us is different in our composition and deficiency levels and we must check ourselves periodically to keep a track on our deficiencies. The most common issues seen are related to Vitamin D and Omega -3 fatty acids, we can easily consume these orally upon prescription.
Get your Me time: Work, overtime, schedules, expectations and stress are a part of everyone’s life, that does not mean we do not give time to ourselves and work on the areas which need our attention. Get sometime for yourself at the end of the day, maintain a diary and note all that you ate or consumed every single day, this is something which will help you realise what improvements can be made.
Unwind: After a hard days work and all the stress we carry with us , our body definitely requires a break, a time where it needs to go into a hibernation phase commonly referred to as sleep. Make sure you get your daily rest, 6-8 hours is what our body requires to rejuvenate. Most people have disturbed sleep patterns, let go of all your electronic distractions, control the late nights, find your time to unwind totally. The body will be greatly benefitted in so many ways if we cover up a good night’s sleep and revive the new positive vibrations from within our body.