For example, a simple thali with whole-wheat Phulkas (without ghee), green vegetables, not overcooked to kill the vitamins, and with only two drops of oil, dahi or raita (yoghurt), dal, little bit of rice, kachumbar (or salad) consumed at least 2 hours before you go to bed is very healthy. But, what do we do? We kill the nutrients of our food, make it really unhealthy and have it just before going to bed. Result: Indians have the highest proportion of heart disease and diabetes in the world.
As I am aging, and becoming more conscious of my lifestyle and food habits, I am trying to adapt my habits too. I also cannot help but comment on our New York Ashram practices too. Yes, Prasad is holy and gives you positive energy. But, eating a heavy meal, loads of saturated fat, carbs and sugar at around 10 pm, and then going to bed after the heavy meal cannot be healthy, and cannot overcome the positive benefits of having Prasad.
Dieting fads always backfire. Atkins, South Beach, Liquid etc diets are widely followed. None of these diets cater for an Indian body or Indian diet anyway. Loads of websites, books and dieticians have written about these topics. Rujuta Divekar’s “Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight’ has been well written. Here are some easy to adopt health tips:
Do not eat white foods – e.g. pasta, white bread, rice (especially Basmati), pizza, Naans or any Indian breads made with white flour or Maida or fried bread, like Bhature or Puri. At minimum, avoid it totally for dinner. Very difficult to follow since we crave for a proper Indian meal when you come back from work. But, very, very essential to follow strictly.
Do not eat Mithai – too sugary, too many calories! Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, Pethe are great examples of yummy mithai we should Not be eating. If you want to lose weight, stop eating sugar. I lost 3 inches on my waist after I eliminated sugar for 3 months!! It still is my weakness.
Do not eat fried foods – samosa, kachori, bhujias are some great examples of tasty Indian snacks we should not eat! Use smarter alternatives. Bake the food instead.
Do not overcook your vegetables – destroys the nutrients. Use a few drops of ghee or extra virgin olive oil to lightly sautee the vegetables. Kerala style Poriyals and Gujarati style Kachumbars are good examples.
Exercise is a must. 30 to 60 minutes during weekdays, and at least 60 to 90 minutes on week ends based on how unhealthy or obese you are. Combine cardio (brisk walking, jogging, running, rowing etc.) with weight training. Sports of all kinds are great. Tennis, Boxing, Swimming are outstanding. Mix it up, and change your routine every 10 to 12 weeks.
Yoga is great! Guess where Yoga originated! Yet, at least in UK and US, I see mostly non-Indian origin folks in the studio! Yoga is good for internal organs, blood flow, muscles, brain and mind! Special postures to overcome certain chronic diseases are also available.
Rujuta says, remain loyal to your genes and eat what you have been eating since childhood. If you are a Gujarati, eat your Theplas, a Punjabi should have his Parathas and South Indian should have their Idlis. Right from the time you are in you mother’s womb, your body is used to eating, digesting and assimilating certain foods. You have the enzymes to digest the foods your Mom cooked and you ate until you left your home.
Focus while you eat. (I need to practice this one too). No TV, no Ipad’s, no mobile phones at the dining table.
This is an interesting one from Rujuta’s book. We should eat fruits when we are in a fasting state or when our liver store is empty: so, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after your exercise session. Eat the whole fruit. Juices are not as beneficial. Eating fruits after your meals is also not advisable.
Water is essential. Have plenty of water all day. GuruMaa says, do not drink water during the meals. Wait for 30 minutes after your meals to drink your water. Sip water all day. Always keep water with you all day.
A. When you wake up, eat first, and if you absolutely must, drink your chai or kafee. Rujuta opines that the foundation to a great body is laid by what you drink within the first 10 or 15 minutes of waking up.
B. Eat every 2 hours.
C. Eat more when you are more active, and less when you are less active.
D. Finish your last meal at least 2 hours before you go to sleep.
I need to practice what I write! Hope you can also implement some changes - one at a time over the next 6 months. Do not shock your system too quickly.