Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Why I make that extra effort to eat better

From tulsi leaves, roasted chickpeas, microgreens to saying no to dairy, four professionals tell us how they have changed their eating habits to stay healthy

A life well lived is often the result of physical and emotional health. This sort of wellness can only be attained with healthy habits sustained over a lifetime. Unfortunately for Indians, statistics don’t seem to be on our side. A study published in the journal Nature in July found that deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes are threefold in India as compared to Western nations. Because of this health crisis, more professionals than ever before, are cognizant of what they eat. From changing old habits to finding the right balance, four individuals talk about how they found simple, sustainable ways to care for themselves.

■ The traditionalist

Be it his design or health, Delhi-based fashion designer Arjun Saluja likes to keep it simple. Growing up, his mother ran a charitable Ayurvedic hospital in Bareilly, UP. Saluja says he understood the concepts of Ayurveda at a very young age. “Good health habits are a long-term practice; it won’t show results in 10 days," he says.

Health habits: “I take four-five tulsi leaves ground into pellets each morning, then a small teaspoon of dried Brahmi with juice or water before heading to work," he says. Tulsi is a potent adaptogen that helps the body cope with stress. Brahmi helps with nerves and mental stability. “I don’t like to take medicines, so I try to heal myself with herbs," he adds. His recipe for a scratchy throat: Boil tulsi, ginger, black pepper into strong tea and drink with honey. “It’s lethal but worth it", he notes.

Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

■ The reformist

In January 2017, Gurveen Chadha, commissioning editor at Penguin Random House in Delhi, went on an impromptu trek to Garhwal. During the trek she realized how poor her fitness levels were. “I needed to get in shape and that’s when I decided to start running," says Chadha. She enrolled in the “100 days of running" challenge. “It required that I run a minimum of 2-4km a day for 100 days without fail," she recalls. Six months later, Chadha scaled Churdhar, the highest peak in the outer Himalayas.

Health habits: Being someone who subsisted on doughnuts and burgers, Chadha transformed her eating habits to get into shape. One of her favourite meals now is oats upma. “It’s fibrous, energizing and makes me feel fuller for longer," she says. Chadha avoids foods that tend to make her feel lethargic, so packaged snacks, white carbohydrates, refined sugars and soft beverages are out. “I always bring with me at least two fruits and I keep a jar of roasted channas (chickpeas) at hand at work. This is to avoid bad snacking," she adds.

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

■ The connoisseur

It wouldn’t be untrue to say that life for Eeshaan Kashyap, vice president at Pass Code Hospitality in Delhi, is all about creativity. With restaurants and bars such as À Ta Maison, Jamun and PCO under his stewardship, Kashyap has mastered eating well, by keeping an eye out for the healthy aspect of foods.

Health habits: “I carry home-cooked food with me every single day. That is my big secret to being healthy," he says. Though Kashyap does not follow a prescribed diet, he makes sure he takes proteins and carbohydrates in proportion (80:20). He loves greens and eats them at least in one meal everyday. “I avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, pork (though I love it) and rice at night," he says. He also avoids protein bars because they make him hungry. His snacks include roasted fox nuts and theplas made with fenugreek. Kashyap also has a small terrace garden where he grows his herbs and greens. He eats a lot of microgreens that he grows at home. “It’s important to take care of yourself while living in this high air pollution environment; it all begins and ends based on what you eat," he says.

Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint
Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint

■ The hedonist

For Joanna Huang, public relations manager at Estée Lauder in Mumbai, life isn’t about holding back. Over the years, she’s got better at moderating and balancing her diet without compromising on taste. “I started taking care of my health with better food choices," she says

Health habits: One rule she follows is all about balance. “If I’ve had a big lunch, then I go light on dinner," she says. Huang avoids dairy-rich foods, making it easier to resist many sweet goodies. “I don’t snack much, but when I do, it’s normally nuts, granola or fruit," she says. While travelling, Huang avoids flight food and eats before boarding or packs a meal for the flight. If it’s a really long flight, she fills up with a lot of herbal tea with honey to resist junk foods.

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