Food is such a basic part of our existence. Our lives revolve around it from our waking moment onwards. Food and feasting go hand in hand and even celebrations all over the world and across all cultures are centred on food. Our ancient Indian scriptures divide food into three categories, such as-
Satvic or pure foods: These are foods that heal, comfort, juicy, smooth and increase longevity, intelligence and strength and are digested well by our system.
Rajasik or the tasteful foods: These are salty, spicy, bitter, salty and can give rise to ill health, grief or discomfort.
Tamasik or the impure foods: These include stale, cold, left over foods, impure and half cooked causing great harm to the mind and the body.
Food is one aspect of our life that we take for granted. We are less mindful of the food that we consume. We leave our body to deal with the constant abuse from our day to day lives and lifestyles. We, humans, without taking our body for granted, need to create health generating systems and build a oneness with food, productive exercises, yoga, corrective breathing and meditation, rest and sleep and be spiritually aware and conscious. These steps translate into better stamina, strength, tone and energy with emphasis on the whole body as an entity, one that accentuates wellness and wellbeing.
The food we eat lays the foundation for every cell and tissue in our body. The purpose of food is to nourish us, build strength and to give vital energy. Digestive harmony is the key for release of this vital energy needed for healthy living. The science of Ayurveda – the creative and constructive life science – says that every part of our mind and body is governed by the DOSHAS – the bio-energetic force or elements that sustain life. Refined, processed and preserved foods are all totally devoid of this nutrition and vitality. Wholesome, raw and natural foods that have absorbed the cosmic energy, and are super charged with ample rainfall and sunshine must be utilized to the fullest for health and wellness.
The father of medicine, Hippocrates said “thy food is thy medicine. You are what you eat and what you eat you become”.
To most of us eating good food is just another chore and a trivial thing to do. How many of us are really mindful of the fact that good food performs miracles inside our cells and tissues and is responsible for 80 percent of our transformation. Food has a subtle effect on our minds as well. Food plays a pivotal role in influencing our brain behaviour, our moods, and thought processes and in handling stress. It is these wholesome, natural foods that bestow health and vigour liberating and protecting us from us from illnesses. Studies have shown that there are two dietary processes in the human body-nourishing and cleansing- that need to be regulated with good and sensible dietary habits. If neglected, it can lead to a build up of toxins which are the basis for most mental and physical degeneration.
Health is not just a great body or a zero size figure but covers physical fitness, mind science and spiritual growth and our efforts should be an integrated approach towards wellness. To achieve this eat appropriate foods that do not erode our digestive system. Yes, I mean, go real easy on all those junk foods, soft drinks, stale, cold foods and excessive meat eating and alcohol. Instead, begin to love fruits, veggies, nuts and foods in their natural wholesome form. It is important to ‘cater to your hunger and not pamper your appetite.’ I am urging you to follow this and not call it a ‘diet’. It is not intended for weight loss alone. On the contrary, it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
So, let us celebrate good health.
How often have you come across the words ‘healthy’ and ‘food’ in the same sentence, but chose to ignore it? Despite being aware of the many benefits of eating healthy, I see so many people around me taking their health for granted. Our body is what we make of it. So why fill it with unhealthy food and end up bearing the brunt of it.
Eating healthy has innumerable advantages, some of them being:
1. Helps prevent and control health problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes.
2. With good nutrition your body becomes better equipped to deal with stress.
3. Good food stimulates the body to create more killer cells to ward off infections thus promoting immunity.
4. Food provides us with disease fighting antioxidants and can slow the natural process of ageing.
Indian diets, with mindfulness and planning are natural and unprocessed comprising of grains, pulses and dals, fruits and vegetables, nuts and oilseeds; all in adequate amounts to maintain health. Diet and Nutrition are responsible for 70 to 80% of your entire transformation. Food also influences your thought process, attitude and behavior. There are foods which can make you feel high, there are foods which can make you irritable and temperamental, there are foods which can excite you, and there are foods which can relax you.
Indian diets suit Indian population the best depending upon our culture, climatic conditions, atmosphere, pollution etc. Once a while enjoying other cuisines is great, but would you ever want to solely depend on pastas and burgers too often and face the risks attached to consuming such unhealthy, non fibrous foods?
As mentioned above the health risks are plenty! Our diets include complex carbohydrates from jowar, bajra, ragi, whole wheat etc as opposed to the refined carbohydrates. Our diets are designed to protect our hearts with low levels of oils, fats, sugars. In fact our diets strike this perfect balance of all food groups, nothing too much and nothing too little. High sugar intake is proportionate to diabetes, high fat levels can lead to hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart diseases, strokes etc.
My golden rules for better health:
Remember, our bodies are tailored to consume what we have been since childhood and what our fathers, fore fathers have been consuming. Our diets of rotis, dals/pulses, veggies, sprouts, salads etc on a daily basis will ensure complete health as opposed to constant consumption of junk foods /burgers/pizzas/excess amounts of cheese, cream etc. Relish on all that you love, but remember, anything too little or too much is equally damaging…
Guidelines for healthy eating and weight management
Follow these golden rules/steps of healthy eating for achieving a healthy weight loss and to maximize your health and longevity:
1. Frequent small helpings of food are recommended. Eat slowly. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs, provides constant energy and maintains metabolism efficiently.
2. Select foods based on your preference and do not worry as much about the number of calories you consume but concentrate on combining the right foods and on the portion sizes. Do not deprive yourselves. This is likely to cause you to eat more the next day.
3. Add a wide variety of foods to your daily diet. Include wholesome foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouts, and whole grains. These foods provide all the essential nutrients and fiber which are necessary for growth, good health and immunity.
4. Drink daily 8 to 10 glasses of liquids like water, and herbal teas. These drinks are fillers are hunger managers.
5. Include fresh fruits, fresh unstrained vegetable juices, vegetable, sprouts, whole grains, nuts and low fat milk/yoghurt.
6. Drink a glass of ginger/green tea after a heavy meal. This hastens digestion and improves metabolism.
7. Consume healthy snacks like salads, crackers, fruits, unsweetened and low fat yogurt, wholegrain biscuits and muffins.
8. Read labels well and choose foods that do not contain chemicals like preservatives and additives. Organically grown foods are a healthier option.
9. Avoid bad fats like butter, cream full-cream milk and rich salad dressings and sauces. Take care not to eliminate sources of good fats like nuts, seeds and olive oils which contain unsaturated fatty acids. Use these foods in moderation.
10. Eliminate white flour products like breads and biscuits, pastas, white rice, processed foods and sugary breakfast cereals. They lack fibre. They also cause a spike in our insulin level leading to fat storage.
11. Exercise on a regular basis. Stretching, yoga, calisthenics, walking and other mild forms of aerobic activities are recommended. These exercises can be done at home or in a gym with guidance. Stress can be reduced through yoga,meditation, good rest and sound sleep.
12. Avoid soft drinks, and juices. Also avoid sweets, desserts and fried snacks. Instead, eat a variety of nutrient dense foods. Limit the consumption of processed foods, fried foods and fast foods. If you must have them, remember to exercise moderation. Moderation is the key when you eat what you want without feeling deprived.
13. Use cooking methods like stewing, steaming, grilling and roasting instead of frying.
Good health is the result of conscious commitment that involves many factors like the food we eat, exercises, mental well-being, rest and sleep. Consistency is the most important factor when it comes to good nutrition. When you are often on the run, you need a plan that you can easily adopt and one that features a foundation of healthy food. Eating frequent well balanced meals is essential for anyone who wants to lose or maintain weight, have energy and stamina throughout the day, boosted immunity, to improve focus and concentration and above all for Mickeymizing your wellness quotient!