Eat. Train. Repeat. Fitness

What’s your way of eating?

Nutrition is a tricky subject, mainly because there is no one way to do it right. There are many ways we eat, but most of us will fall under one of these five. Which one do you fall under and which one would you like to fall under? 

1 Cultural eating 

You eat what you eat. It’s that simple. You ate foods that were specific to where you were born and/or brought up. You were born into a family that ate a certain way and so you ate that way too, and today, that’s the only way of eating that feels normal to you. That’s all you were taught, that’s all you know and that’s all was ever needed. 

2 Mindless eating 

Westernisation happened and you let it come into your house and onto your plate. These new foods came in boxes, could be cooked in very little time and little more than salt was needed to make it tasty. They could also be stored easily and for a long time. You initially ate these foods as a treat — the rare ice cream, black forest cake or milkshake. With time, these western foods wore Indian hats and you embraced these foods as your own. Now these foods are an integral part of your regular diet. Boxed cereals are now breakfast, a cool drink or a chocolate bar is mandatory at lunch and extra-sweet health drinks act as finishers for dinners. This way of eating is tasty and convenient but mindless and hence unhealthy. 

3 Dieting 

You probably overdid the first two types of nutrition, and now you’re either overweight or your unflattering blood work made your doctor ask you to eat better. So you try to swing the pendulum the other way. You try to clean up everything. Nutrition, training, sleep, stress and everything in between. You deprive yourself of food, are always hungry and frustrated, and hence tend to give up. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon realise that this doesn’t work. All the yo-yoing only leaves you frustrated and exhausted from the highs of gluttony and lows of dieting. 

4 Cruising  

By this point, you are a little stuck. Thanks to the unsuccessful dieting phase, you have knowledge that’s making you feel guilty about eating mindlessly. So you use the knowledge you have and the information you can get from mainstream media to make healthy choices. You choose lassi over gulab jamun, order fruit juice instead of ice cream and do some form of exercise that doesn’t involve dietary changes. You may soon realise that you are missing details, and in spite of making the right food choices and exercising regularly, you continue to gain weight as fat. 

5 Smart eating 

This is something that folks who’ve been through the previous four phases tend to do. This is when you realise that nutrition is not about culture or religious beliefs or fads or fat loss but about health, and it is a part of a much larger equation. You understand that nutrition is about finding the most optimal way to eat, given the unchangeable circumstances. If you live in a city like Chennai, you’d eat a predominantly vegetarian diet with some eggs, meat or cheese in it, you’d keep packaged goods away from being staples, you’d eat tropical and seasonal produce and you’d take advantage of the fact that we have sunlight available all days of the year. If you lived in Toronto or Thirunelveli, you’d modify accordingly. You’d also provide yourself enough buffer to enjoy the occasional treat, which may be cultural, religious and foreign in nature. 

Realise that long-term health results from the “way of eating” you choose and not from the sporadic diets you do for a few months here and there. While there is no one way of eating that will work for everyone, irrespective of how you like to eat, being smart and mindful will go a long way. 

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 1:00:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/whats-your-way-of-eating/article7361541.ece

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