Whenever we think of healthy eating, we think of home-made food. Most of us, being working people, find little time to cook a light snack at home leave alone make a three course dinner.
For kids, parents make sure they are eating well and eating healthy. They keep a track of what they need and provide it. We all remember of the times during our childhood where we HAD to eat a certain thing which we thought was disgusting back then. Now we know it is healthy and very important in our diets. Mostly people with kids tend to eat healthy to set examples for their children but not all elders think of their own health. But it is mostly the young adults and couples with no children, who ignore their health in a very big way. Include me in the second category.
Initial phase of new job, new location, new friends and new-found independence do no good when it comes to food. All things which were previously out of reach suddenly become available and reachable to you. You think eating at McD and Pizza hut is cool and more importantly time-saving and easy as you won’t have to sweat in your hot kitchen. What more, you can order-in from restaurants as well. All those paneer butter masalas, cheese/butter filled parathas and maida filled naans look very tempting. Chips and fries become TV time snack. And who doesn’t like variety everyday? I myself am guilty of having done all these.
We rarely cook at home; I don’t have the energy to cook in the mornings because I am not a morning person and in the evenings I’m just too exhausted. Then I started analysing a pattern to find out why I get so exhausted in the first place. Many do the same job that I do, which should derive to everybody being exhausted. Yes, full-time jobs are tiring but not so much that you don’t have time to spend time with your family and have a family dinner. It shouldn’t be. That is when I thought, may be I am not putting enough nutrients into my body because of which I feel tired. I might need to add more energizing things to my meals and snacks. I really observed that most of what I eat everyday are not particularly healthy, even though they are filling. Eating had already become a chore and cooking non-existent.
Making the transition
Now that I am past the hurdle of knowing the reason for my bloated tummy and lower immunity, my next step would obviously be to remedy it.
1. First step is to avoid unhealthy foods. I am consciously avoiding foods that are of no nutritional value. That doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention to taste. My taste buds are hyperactive and I would rather eat a small tasty healthy meal than a large bland healthy meal. Of course I do go out once in a while, but I am making sure I don’t eat out every other day.
2. If you can’t avoid eating out because you don’t and can’t cook, my suggestion is to hire a cook if you can afford one. Many of my colleagues have one and are happy with the arrangement. Another option is to find an outlet where you can buy home-cooked food. Places like darshinis are good for daily out-eaters which prove to be cost-effective while being pretty good on your stomach and health. Though most of the food we buy outside are not particularly enriching. In this case, it is advisable to take supplements in the form of fruits and vegetables or multivitamin tablets.
3. If you can cook and are willing to, nothing like it. You just need to break the lethargy. Paying close attention to your body will reveal what it might be lacking. Getting tired, body ache, low strength, problems in vision, headaches, irritation, low patience, skin problems, bowel problems etc are a few of the things which you can keep a watch on. Once you start noticing that your health is deteriorating, you’ll realize the value of nutrition. I did. So try to have small meals packed with nutrients. Eat healthy snacks like nuts and raisins, use brown bread in your sandwich with less butter and cheese, fruit cubes, smoothies. Wash down everything you eat with plenty of clean water, preferably luke warm.
4. Read about health and nutrition and find out how toxins are formed in the body and what hinders nutrients from being absorbed. Information will be in your mind and slowly slid into your subconscious so you can make wise decisions every time you are presented with dubious situations of choosing between a cheese burger and roti subzi.
5. Make health not only a habit but a lifestyle. I am still in the phase of making it a habit in which I can say that the challenge I took helped a lot. So go ahead challenge yourself to a goal and treat yourself once you accomplish it. Once it becomes a habit, it’ll take not much time to become a lifestyle. You’ll automatically make healthy choices in everything.
All this sounds so easy, isn’t it? But is it? Definitely no. People who have tried to be on a diet know how difficult it is to be to abstain oneself from those yummy calorie rich foods. When we try to avoid something, suddenly all our thoughts are filled with it. I started craving more burgers once I thought of avoiding them. So much so that I had to go to McD on two consecutive days and binge. So do intelligent avoiding. If you really feel like it, go have it but see if you can share it with a friend so that way you can taste it as well as half the calorie intake. Going forward, minimize the intake to bits and bites. I have started tasting stuff when I go out and sharing food. If it is not my favourite dish, I tend not to eat it in full. Even if it is my favorite dish, I share if I see that I have been eating out a lot.
Also, drink a soup or juice or milkshake half an hour before meal. That way you will be forced not to eat too much as your stomach is already a little filled. I find soups very healthy, tasty and filling. Just ask without cream. And most importantly, don’t think much about your change in eating habits when you are making the transition. Make a list of what you’ll eat and store it in your mind and go about your business of daily activities.
Ultimately, you will lose some to gain some. You WILL have to make an effort in this case to lose the unhealthy for the healthy.