I’ve spent 20 years studying the various diets people subscribe to and have found that diets often fail because they are not balanced. Instead, work on making small alterations that will last a lifetime and cut back. Once you know what to cut out, and can see how it makes a difference, it’s easy to sustain your everyday eating habits. Here are seven small ways to make a difference:
Graze, don’t gorge:
Eat small, mini meals. When you give your system too much or too little work to do during the day, it makes it sluggish. It’s best to eat six-eight times a day. A meal can even be half an apple and yogurt, but it’s important to keep the system functioning consistently.
Dos and don’ts: (left ) Carry meal options to your workplace ; keep a check on how much wine you’re drinking .
Make dinner the most important meal of the day:You tend not to watch what you eat at night because you’re not wary of feeling sleepy like you are at lunch, when you have meetings to attend. You are in comfortable clothes and want to be nurtured. It’s easy to eat heavy and sleep. Have a four-course dinner that is light, cleansing and filling too.
Carry options:Plan your day and carry your meal options with you. It prevents you from reaching out for whatever’s available. If you can’t carry a meal, identify healthy vendors; opt for less oil, no cheese, and brown bread. Make the effort to think about what you will eat when hunger strikes.
Chew your food:More than 60-70% of people suffer from acidity because they don’t chew their food. The digestion process begins in the mouth. Food is meant to be broken down before it reaches the stomach. Don’t skip it; eat with awareness.
Watch your drinking:One gram of alcohol is equal to 7 kcal, on a par with fat. Many exercise regularly and ask why they still have a belly. You can do everything else right, but if you are drinking, you are not counting the calories alcohol has, and you lose count of the snacks that go with it.
Don’t cut fat out:Fat—the ghee on your roti or butter on your bread—has essential vitamins D, K and A. It affects your hormones. Do not subscribe to a completely no-fat diet. But stick to a quota—half a teaspoon of fat per meal—and distribute it as you choose.
Cut down on self-prescription:Whether it is protein supplements, energy drinks or vitamin pills, excess can be toxic. Whey has a high protein content, so it must supplement the lack of it in your meals, else it just adds to your weight. Excess nutrients can also stress the kidney.
Namita Jain is a clinical fitness specialist with Bombay Hospital, a nutritionist with over 20 years experience and the author of books such as The Four-Week Countdown Diet.
As told to Gayatri Jayaraman.