10 steps to Healthy Eating
There are loads of advice about diet plans and what to eat but there are even more basic and essential points that we miss to understand or implement while eating. Here are ten such aspects, if followed, that can keep us healthy, fit and lean:
1) Drink solid. Eat liquid.
You read that right. The process of digestion begins when we start chewing and saliva acts on it. It makes sense for the food to spend sufficient time here and get prepared for the digestive track. The idea of drinking solid is to chew the solids till it turns liquid and we should allow liquids to stay and relish it, not just gulp it. Chewing food properly prepares the stomach to be ready with the digestive enzymes and makes it easier for it to break the food for further process.
2) Remain stress free
The primary role of our Energy system is to combat stress, be it physical, mental or emotional. This is followed by helping the process of digestion. Now if we are stressed in any form and eat it would be of no help to us cos the system needs to first manage stress. Remember the good words from our parents that discouraged us from eating immediately when we ran back home. Learn to stay focused on food and eat with a peaceful mind. Ideally before eating wash your feet, hands, face and pour a little water on your neck which helps you to get fresh and relaxed.
3) Eat half full
When we eat in a rush or in stress there is tendency to over eat. This is not desirable. The ideal formula for healthy eating is to eat half stomach; quarter is for water and quarter for air. When we overload a mixer it has to work harder and could also burn the machine, the same principle applies to our digestive system – never overload. Sitting in sukhasan on the floor helps us to gauge when we are half full. An interesting quote I once read said “there is no harm in eating less”…but remember do not starve yourself.
4) Keep entertainment away
It is common to see members of family sitting in front of the television or internet while eating. If that was not enough our smartphones keep us engaged. When our mind is distracted with entertainment, in any form, we tend to lose control on how much we are eating. Eating becomes a mechanical process and the hand would stop only once we are filled up to the throat. Overeating then becomes an everyday habit; that would be an open invitation for several diseases.
5) Avoid whites in your food
Too much of Sugar, Salt or Maida in our food is an absolutely no. Vegetables if cooked properly take care of the salts, sugar and mineral requirements for our body. The additional salt required is very limited but we tend to keep taste as our priority. Our sweet tooth keeps us glued to sweets and maida while it is heavy on the digestive track, it tastes great. Also we should not forget that all these available to us are processed and treated with chemicals to look and taste good. No wonder BP, Diabetes and Constipation are so common.
6) Don’t skip breakfast
We need more energy during the day than night and so having a healthy breakfast is essential for the day. After dinner this is the next meal with a gap of about 12-14hrs, this is reason enough that we provide our body with essential nutrients and minerals that would aid our energy and keep us alert and active through the day. Important aspect being that the food should be healthy, one that supplements’ your energy and does not drain it.
7) Last meal by 7 pm
Having a healthy gap of 2-3 hrs between eating and getting into bed is a great habit. This gives sufficient time for the body to digest the food. Our body at night gets into repair mode and so if the digestive system is still active, it interferes with our rest and restoration. Eating late and sleeping immediately also disrupts your digestive process cos gravity aids the movement of food and this gets deprived when we sleep. A light meal is sufficient to keep us going for the night. This habit also keeps check on our weight.
8) Do not drink water while eating
Water contains essential salts and minerals for the body. Water needs no digestive enzymes to work on it and is immediately moved to the intestines for direct absorption. Therefore, when we drink water while eating food it would carry with it undigested food from the stomach into the intestinal track. This unprocessed food gets difficult to work on and creates unnecessary drain on our system. A few sips of water, if the food is very spicy however, is acceptable.
9) Eat five/six small meals a day
Eating small portions five/six times a day is better than eating more than just 3 meals. This habit keeps blood sugar levels steady. It helps keeping ‘feeling of being fatigued’ away. Eating smaller portions five times will also bring in variety into food ensuring the right nutrients get into our system. When we stick to three meals a day think about how we come to the table like a hungry monster and this brings with it the tendency to eat more than required. One of my favorite quotes on food ‘you can have it all, just not all at once‘ also reinforces this.
10) Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables
Nature provides us with the right foods at the right time of the year. Water melons before onset of summer, oranges/mangoes during summer etc. Advanced scientific techniques have enabled the availability of every type of fruit or vegetable mostly through the year but we need to sit back and think about our food habits w.r.t seasons. The kind of food we eat alters our temperature and metabolism and the more we respect the cycle of nature the better for us. One easy way to get to know the food for each season is to enter a market and check for fruits and vegetables that are most visible and economical.
Namaste Kamal Maliramani