The kind of food we must eat: Eating right, rather the art of eating right, is actually nothing more than common sense. But sometimes the simple systems in life need to be reiterated because of all the confusion that exists. Nutrition has become complicated today and thanks to fads and crash diets, we end up following and eating what has worked for others, not realising that each of us is unique.
The key to eating right is to keep it simple. What you ate during the initial four or five years of your life becomes information to your genes. It helps you grow from a child to an adult and if you were healthy and disease-free back then, then that is exactly what you should continue to eat. While times may have advanced, the basic needs of a human body haven’t. We still need carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals in balance. We still need fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, good quality cold-pressed oils, and ghee.
Secondly, stick to staple foods. The foods specific to a region are designed in a way that suits geographical aspects such as climate and temperature, according to which seasonal fruits and vegetables are produced. If we try to change our habits, we are sure to face health issues. Most of us grew up eating simple dal and rice, rice and chapati, khichdi, rice and sambhar or idli/dosa and sambhar. That is exactly what we must continue to consume. The basics never change.
If you blame these staples like rice especially for putting on weight, then the problem is actually with your lifestyle and the quality and quantity you eat, not rice in itself. It is the exposure to a particular culture that shapes our genetic make-up, gut microbiome, metabolism, thought process and beliefs, and only when our food habits remain in alignment with our culture, we attain good health.
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Eating right doesn’t mean deprivation Eating right in no way means deprivation. In fact, it is about how you can enjoy a variety of foods and still maintain health. Some of the fittest people have their indulgences too. It’s all about how much discipline you can practise in the presence of these indulgences.
t is okay to have a reward meal, should you want once a week, as long as you understand your body and give yourself the right kind of food at the right time. For that, you need to treat food with respect, understand its function, and enjoy what you eat. It is not just about what you eat, it is also about how much of that food gets digested, absorbed, and assimilated. No two people on the same diet plan can achieve the same results. Why is that? One obviously is that every body is different and there is no one diet plan that can suit everyone. The second reason is the extent to which our digestive system can break down, assimilate and absorb food.
So, nutrition is not just limited to eating clean. One must focus on enhancing the process of digestion too. Here are a few things you can do for that: Chewing every bite well, because the first step to digestion and breaking down of fats and carbohydrates, starts in the mouth.
- Never eat in a state of stress. When we are stressed, our digestive systems shut because the body isn’t interested in digesting foods.
- Eat around the same times and never late into the night because our body is simply not designed to digest food at night, however healthy it may be.
- Avoid drinking water in between meals because water can dilute stomach acids and hinder protein digestion and assimilation.
These are the basics of eating right. In my practice, I notice that most people actually do not need diets. Instead, they need to be coached more on lifestyle changes around eating like not overeating, chewing well, enjoying food, improving their relationship with food, limiting junk and processed food, changing their mindsets and beliefs around food and practicing self-discipline. This is the actual key to getting the art of eating right.The author is a Mumbai-based holistic lifestyle coach—Integrative Medicine
By Luke Coutinho