- Health is a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being
- I love to eat simple traditional meals freshly prepared from whole foods
- Persistent sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on health
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. The importance of good health requires no explanation, it is central to our very existence. There is an age-old saying, 'Prevention is better than cure'. Accordingly, it is better to adopt a lifestyle which improves our health and prevents diseases, rather than adopting one after having fallen sick.
I am a nutritionist and here's what I eat and what I don't eat for maintaining good health. Let's begin with the stuff I avoid.
I stay away from ready-to-eat, processed and packaged convenience foods straight out of the supermarket shelves. These have a lot of hidden ingredients, and even though, some of them might claim to be healthy, they are laced with hidden sugars, excess salt, excess fats and a concoction of chemicals like preservatives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers etc.
I also avoid foods that include refined flour as the main ingredient as it is deprived of all nutrients.
I love to eat simple traditional meals freshly prepared from whole foods. A typical breakfast for me is either egg parantha or egg with sweet potatoes, some stuffed paranthas with curd, or poha/ upma/ daliya with curd or a variety of chilas and idlis. My staple lunch is dal-roti-subzi-salad or rice-chana/ rajma/ kadhi etc. Dinner is again the same usual stuff, its mostly dal-rice or dal-roti-subzi-salad. The mid meals usually comprise a tall glass of buttermilk, a handful nuts, a colourful plate of seasonally available fruits or a cup of haldi milk or cold coffee. I never leave home with my meals and mid meals, depending on the time of the day and how long I'd be away.
I also drink lots of water and other fluids like nariyal pani, nimboo pani, buttermilk, herbal teas etc, roughly about 10-12 glasses in summer and about 8 glasses in winter.
My diet may seem monotonous and repetitive, yet it's not. It's wholesome, fulfilling and nourishing. With a little bit of culinary skills at work, the diet can be made quite interesting.
You can pretty much see that I am not avoiding any major food groups like 'carbs', and each meal is balanced. What is equally important is to identify hunger and fullness signals and eat accordingly. Portion control and more or less fixed meal timings are my biggest tools.
I do give in to temptations occasionally and I do eat some stuff made at home on special occasions like ladoos, mithai, halwa, poori etc. Here again, my tool is portion control. Also, I don't let a cheat meal translate into a cheat day.
Routine exercises and adequate sleep are also crucial to maintaining good health. While exercise helps maintain fitness, burn fat and gain muscle; sleep enables rest and recovery. Persistent sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on health.
So, healthy eating is not as complicated as it may seem to be. It involves wise selection, exercising portion control and discipline in timings. When you don't recognize an ingredient on a food package, understand that your body doesn't recognize it either. When in dilemma, follow the simple thumb rule - If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is manufactured in a plant, don't eat.
This World Health Day, here's wishing you good health and well being!
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
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