It is a challenge to eat nutritious food and stay fit all the time. For most of us, the day starts right with a healthy breakfast but as we go along, we are tempted to eat junk food. We end up making unhealthy eating choices towards the tail end of the day, when busy schedules force us to make a shift to convenience-eating mode rather than follow sensible, healthy eating rules. And as the week progresses, fitness goals seem to take a beating too.
However, help is at hand. An easy way to repeatedly remind yourself how to eat healthy and meet your stay-fit goals is to use health mnemonics (memory aid systems) that link information to ideas and images. Here are four mnemonics that I find useful.
This is a mnemonic advocated by the American Heart Association and is a great way to keep reminding yourself about how to lead a healthy lifestyle. To get used to the Simple Seven, set reminders on your mobile phone about the seven rules: 1) Get active; 2) Control cholesterol; 3) Eat better; 4) Manage blood pressure; 5) Lose weight; 6) Reduce blood sugar; and 7) Stop smoking. Start with the first reminder in the morning, then again at 3-4pm, and the last just before bedtime. The reminders could, for instance, be about fitting in an hour-long workout in your work day, avoiding biscuits and sweets to control cholesterol, eating at regular intervals, from four to six times a day, doing about 20 minutes of deep breathing exercises to lower hypertension, avoiding deep-fried foods and pasta to stick to your weight-loss goals, etc. Even if you end up following some of the rules at least thrice a day, staying healthy will be less of a challenge.
We all know eating fruits and vegetables is a healthy thing to do, but we often forget that we must opt for different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day to get the full benefits. The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) plan suggests an intake of nine helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. Even if you don’t have hypertension, keep the mnemonic in mind to remind yourself that you must have at least five helpings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Hail 5: Have at least five helpings of fruits and veggies daily.
The fibre in fruits and vegetables makes them rich in antioxidants, vitamins and phytonutrients. They improve your immunity and help keep disease at bay. What’s also good about fruits and vegetables is that they are low in calories, especially when eaten raw or lightly cooked without deep frying. A half-cup, or around 100g, of lightly cooked, stir-fried vegetables has around 30 calories, while half a cup of fried rice has around 200 calories. Make it a point to eat a fruit at breakfast and one?more as an even- ing snack.?That takes care of two of the five. Incorporate a serving of salad or stir-fried veggies (about one to one-and-a-half cups) at lunch and dinner time. Now you need to include just one more helping of a fruit or a vegetable. An easy way to do this is to make a vegetable soup a mandatory starter before dinner every day.
Frequency, intensity, time and type (FITT) reminds us how to make the most of exercising and how to avoid plateauing. The key principle is to modify your exercise plan by using any of the above-mentioned parameters. This is important because the body adapts quickly to a workout and for any plan to be successful, it must surprise and challenge the body regularly. Let’s say you choose brisk walking as your form of exercise. First, decide the frequency—begin with 30-minute moderate walks, three times a week. Then increase the frequency to five times a week. Once you feel that you can do the 30-minute, moderately paced walk easily, work at increasing the pace. Then, increase the time. The FITT principle works well with yoga, Pilates and weight training.
The BRAT (banana, rice, apple, toast) diet is a simple memory aid for those of you who have to deal with indigestion-related problems on a regular basis. It is a good idea to follow this plan because it helps lower flatulence, and soothes overworked intestines. A few key things to keep in mind—bananas should be slightly overripe, with brown spots on the peel; consume slightly overcooked white rice with yogurt; stewed apple is easy to digest and calms the intestines: and toast here refers to burnt toast since charcoal in this helps to relieve flatulence.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at email@example.com