by Sandesh Palungwa Limbu

Many of us struggle with what we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat. There are issues of time, issues of eating in response to stress, eating irregularly, over eating or just giving into cravings. Working with thousands of people on their diet plans, I have learnt that there can be no standard set of rules. Yet, I cannot stress enough on the importance of eating right and eating with awareness. Following are some simple guidelines that will help you eat better, have more energy, better sleep, a leaner body, better digestion:

SUGARS – Avoid added sugars as much as possible whether it is visible, hidden as starch or artificial. Many people are addicted to sugar and constantly feel tired, lazy, insecure, bloated and have skin and digestion issues. Research indicates that consuming too much sugar over a period of time puts you at increased risk of heart attack, dementia, diabetes, obesity, liver problems and cancer.

WHOLE GRAIN PRODUCTS – Where possible eat whole grain products. Refined foods are not good for the body, and while it isn’t easy to eliminate these from the diet entirely, make a conscious decision to buy your foods wisely and know what you are putting into your body.

DON’T AVOID FAT – Many people blame fat for causing weight gain and obesity and heart diseases. This isn’t entirely true. The body requires healthy, quality fats for the hormones, nervous and immune systems. A small amount of ghee is actually recommended in most ayurvedic diets.

PROTEINS – Eat good quality proteins. If you constantly feel tired, physically and emotionally, you may need more protein. While meat is hugely appreciated among Nepalis, I would encourage you to go vegetarian at least three times in a week. A good combination of nuts, tofu, sprouts, lentils, legumes help vegetarians meet their protein requirements.

MEALS INBETWEEN – Snack on healthier choices of foods: enjoy nuts, almonds, seeds and kernels in addition to seasonal fruits and fresh vegetable sticks.

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS – Eat several servings of greens (spinach), vegetables, fruits and berries every day. Include as many colours as possible; it is a great way to promote your health. Not many Nepali homes include salads in their meals, but once you start, you will not only enjoy it but gain huge health benefits. Some people with chronic digestive issues may face problems with raw foods, but soft boiled or steamed vegetables are good for them with just a little dash of lime.

WATER – The elixir of life, water is great for you and no, it cannot be compensated in the form of tea, coffee or smoothies. The human body is essentially 70% water. Drink enough to not feel tired, confused, constipated, dehydrated and suffering from dry skin. Try and include green tea every time you feel the need for regular chia or coffee. It’s a great energy booster and fights inflammation too.

EAT AT REGULAR INTERVALS – Try not to skip meals. It will only make you tired and slow your performance. Not eating in order to lose weight will actually slow down your metabolism and make you gain weight. Honour your body’s needs by eating right and eating on time. Eat several small meals a day and eat with complete awareness of what you are putting into your body. Also, please ensure that you have taken your last meal for the day at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.

SUPPLEMENTS – I am not an advocate of supplements. I believe that if you eat consciously and put effort and love into the process of eating, you are on the right track to a healthy body. However, noting that many people struggle with poor dietary habits and stress the body’s natural functions, it is useful for them to take basic supplements and antioxidants. But do ask your doctor to take your personal needs into account before you start.

EXERCISE – To digest all that great food we eat and to digest it well, I will always recommend exercise. There is nothing like spending 30 to 45 minutes of quality time on your body under a good exercise programme. Ten minutes of meditation before you sleep is highly suggested too.

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