The National Nutrition Week starting 1 September is a good time to reflect on your eating habits. Take time off and think how diligently you have adopted healthy eating practices this past year, how focused you are on health, how committed you are to exercising and stretching every day—and if you are in better health than you were, let’s say, six months ago. After all, you are and become, without a shadow of doubt, what you eat.
If you usually eat junk, deep-fried foods, binge on chocolate and sweets, indulge in refined starches like white rice, white bread and sugar, put off exercising and have disturbed sleep patterns, you can become fat, irritable, get out of breath easily, look haggard and older. You will also be more prone to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and hypertension. On the other hand, if you have been eating a rich array of nutrients via green and multicoloured vegetables, consuming fibre from unrefined grain and pulses, getting adequate amounts of protein from skimmed milk products, eggs, tofu, fish and lean poultry, ensuring that you get healthy Omega fats from nuts, seeds and fish, work out six days a week and have sound sleep, you will find yourself looking 10 years younger, having radiant skin, a strong and lean body, slim and trim waistline, and are less likely to be stressed. It is a whole lot easier to prevent and/or reverse diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stall the degenerative processes of ageing with a healthy diet.
Apart from gauging your own nutritional status, Nutrition Week is a good time to share nutritional views and challenges with friends and family. Such interaction can provide you with the emotional support you need to make difficult dietary changes. If every member in the family decides to have a healthy breakfast or eat green vegetables once every day, then these changes get done without much dilly-dallying. In sentiment and determination, this is somewhat similar to all members of a family fasting during the month of Ramzan or the week of paryushan (a week of fasting observed by the followers of Jainism). Sharing only healthy meals with friends for parties and potluck or gifting healthy meals and snacks is yet another way to strengthen your commitment.
Look young: Eat greens, work out and sleep well to slow the ageing process.
We have made a “Nutrition Week to-do” list. Focus on making changes that you may have been putting off for a while.
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Here are some things you could think about:
• Eat breakfast every day, oats with skimmed milk, eggs or wholewheat bread
• Focus on eating high-fibre fruit such as papaya, apple, pear or oranges
• Spring clean the kitchen, remove sweets, chocolates, mithai and biscuits, etc
• Eat more greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
• Have 2 tbsp of nuts and seeds every day. Choose from almonds or flax seeds
• Replace wheat chapatti with multigrain rotis, white rice with brown rice and white bread with wholewheat bread
• Have adequate protein every day—eggs, paneer made from skimmed milk, lean chicken and fish or tofu
• Change your cooking oil to groundnut, olive or rice bran
• Eat before and after working out for maximum energy and recovery
• Get a health check-up if you are above 40 and have not had one in over a year
• Drink lots of water—at least one glass every hour
• Meditate and deep-breathe. Eat at the table in a calm manner
• Eat only home-cooked meals this week
Assess your status and implement not more than three new changes a day.
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