Fitness

The first steps to healthy living

Be wise with what you put on your plate --Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

We all like to think we are unique as snowflakes. It’s true to a certain extent but it’s also not true to a certain extent. From a nutrition standpoint, as humans living in a certain type of environment, we have things in common that we need to do. The first step is to make sure we are doing all that before starting to look into crazy customisations and special diets. Let me clarify.

Funky diets, super foods and hacks that are supposed to cleanse your entire body in a few weeks or help you lose weight in record time are all new and merely an (other) attempt at doing less and getting more. I’ll ask you two things and let you ponder, before we continue.

1. If health is only a result of a carefully crafted diet that contains super foods, pills and powders, how did people live healthy lives before diets came into existence?

2. If losing fat or gaining health was as easy as just having warm lemonade (lemon, water and honey is lemonade, right?), why are most people not in good shape?

The thing to realise is that there is no need to over think or trivialise health. Health is easy if you are willing to do the hard work. Health is a hard and never-ending pursuit if you constantly look for shortcuts. What is the hard work? Let me explain it in two simple steps.

Do no harm

* Don’t eat (frequently) the things you know you should not be eating. I’m talking about biscuits, chocolates, cakes, juices, soft drinks, chips, samosas, bajjis, bondas and other fried things, milkshakes and ice creams. Yes, all the fun stuff.

* Don’t store in your pantry things that sound like they are healthy, but are not. You know, the sugar free stuff, organic desserts, high fibre this and high vitamin that, flavoured milk or curd and, of course, health drinks and breakfast cereals.

* Don’t confuse yourself and your body with supposed super foods. I’m talking about going out of your way to include quinoa, kale, Swiss chard type things in your diet. If you have easy access to them, go for it. But if you have to pay a fortune to procure average quality ingredients and then use them in a heavily Indianised recipe, well, save yourself the trouble.

By the way, here is a little secret - there are no super foods. All foods are super. It is about how you use them.

Nourish

* Eat food. Real wholesome food. Simple white rice, vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, eggs, whole milk, curd, cheese, nuts, lentils, legumes and beans.

* Eat only when you’re hungry. If not, skip a meal or eat just enough to keep you happy till the next meal. If you are starving, no need to stuff your face. Stay calm and eat smartly because good food is just a few minutes away.

* If you are currently overweight and looking to lose some weight, eat a little less and move a little more or train for an activity or sport. Restrict yourself the occasional treats and add in more movement to your life. Walking to the store and taking the stairs count but you’ll need to spend time everyday doing something that makes your heart race and body sweat. That’s it.

Most of you don’t need anything more. You don’t need to cough up currency to either me or a nutritionist to tell you what to eat. The rest of you who have issues (like thyroid, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension etc.), do work with a professional but first make sure you are doing these things. These form the foundation of good health and without this foundation, no diet, pill or potion will help.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 4:50:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/the-first-steps-to-healthy-living/article8570091.ece

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