Resolve Your Diet

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Everything that you put into your system affects you, and whether that effect is positive or negative depends on what you’re eating. As the old adage goes, you are what you eat! Dev Goswami & Pooja Salvi tell you about the diet resolutions you should be making this year

Setting vague goals that include eating healthy, losing weight, or working out more, ae very rarely successful. There isn’t a yardstick by which you can gauge your success and these aren’t goals that will motivate you anyway. To get on the healthy path, you have to narrow down your dietary goals. And, what better time to do so than the new year? We’ve spoken to nutritionists about the dietary resolutions that you should be making this year.

“Work with your body”
Raksha Lulla completed a nutrition and diet planning course a few years ago and since then has been passionately running an Intagram account called TheHealthSiren. Her account features the benefits and goodness of the many ingredients that are available at home. She preaches nutrition, but doesn’t ask you to go out of the way and ruin your budget to get healthy. She tells us what resolutions to make this year.

  • Start on a sweet note This is probably not what you were thinking of, but it’s a great way to begin! While we love the idea of enjoying a double chocolate donut and a banana milkshake for breakfast, Raksha says you should be eating a fruit every morning instead. She explains, “Green tea works only when you already have carbohydrates, proteins and fats coursing through your system, not on an empty stomach. So, ditch the green tea or lime water routine every morning.”
     
  • Restrict it Considering all the unhealthy food that the average Mumbaikar eats in a day, there’s a lot to restrict! “Start your day with water, and make sure that you drink only one or two cups of tea or coffee in a day,” Raksha advises.
     
  • Go traditional This tip is especially useful for people who live alone and are clueless about how to eat healthy. If you’re in doubt, simply choose traditional home-cooked preparations — ghee and jaggery with bajra bhakdi (a form of flatbread that is made with wheat flour), jowar roti with dals/curd, poha with peanuts or idli sambar with coconut chutney. These dishes, Raksha explains, are well-balanced and provide you with a good combination of macro and micronutrients. They also help to keep your blood sugar in check.
     
  • Back to our roots Several ancient Indian texts can give you hints to a good diet. “Bring back the panchamrit (a Sanskrit word used to describe a mixture of five pure foods),” says Raksha. Include milk, curd, organic honey, pure cow ghee and unpolished sugar in your diet — but, in the right amount. They are good for your health, help you to burn more fat and are easy for your body to digest.
     
  • Avoid ‘health’ food Caught you off guard, didn’t she? What Raksha means here is that you should avoid making the mistake of eating processed and packaged health foods under the assumption that they are good for you, because they probably aren’t. “Most processed foods are loaded with salt, sugar and preservatives, which will not do you any good,” she tells us.
     
  • Above and beyond Remember that you won’t be able to improve your health simply by focussing on one aspect of your lifestyle. So, even though we’re talking strictly about diet resolutions, Raksha explains that resting well is important. However, getting eight hours of sleep every night isn’t going to be enough. “9pm to 4am or 10pm to 5am are your ideal sleeping hours. If you can’t get into the exact zone, try to get your timings as close to the range as you can.”

“A Good Time To Be A New You”
Prachi Sanghvi and her husband launched the myDIETist app last year. She’s a professional nutritionist and sets the ball rolling with the most important resolution you should make this year.

  • Resolve to resolve easy “The reason many of us end up breaking our resolutions is because we set the bar too high,” Prachi tells us. Especially when it comes to our weight, we set ambitious goals that aren’t easy to achieve. Instead, you should set resolutions that you’re likely to succeed at.
     
  • Break the fast Some reports in 2015 suggested that breakfasts weren’t all that important. However, there is no substantial proof to back this up, so we’re going to stick with the belief that they are as important as ever, and you should too! We know how chaotic life can get, but that’s more of a reason to resolve to eat a wholesome breakfast instead of skipping it! Prachi tells us, “When you skip breakfast, you binge on foods that are high in fat and sugar, but low in vitamins.”
     
  • Healthy munching Even if you eat three healthy meals a day, your diet can be thrown off track by unhealthy snacking habits. If you snack a lot between meals, it’s time you resolve to eat healthier foods. Prachi tells us, “Raw nuts, fresh fruits and berries are all great options — they provide you with all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.”
     
  • The obvious one People are often advised to eat more fruits and vegetables. Prachi explains why, telling us, “I don’t need to emphasise on it anymore. Fruits and vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrition and are nature’s direct source of essential vitamins and minerals.” And, if you include more of these in your diet, you’ll be eating fewer unhealthy foods too.
     
  • H Two O, baby! Okay, drinking water can’t really be a resolution — you can’t go without drinking water, can you? But, keeping track of whether you’re drinking enough is something that you can resolve to do. “We all understand the benefits of staying hydrated, but most of us still don’t drink enough water,” says Prachi. Apart from counting the number of glasses you’ve had, try to gauge whether you feel dehydrated. It’s a sign that you’re drinking less than you should.
     
  • Cut out the poison From the most essential liquid, we move on to an unhealthy one. While it’s okay to enjoy a drink once in a while, consuming alcohol regularly is going to put you on a path that’s rife with health complications. Prachi explains, “You can enjoy a drink or two occasionally, but make sure that you don’t let it ruin your health.”
     
  • Don’t vaporise your health This is a common resolution, and not really one that’s directly related to your diet, but important to keep it healthy nonetheless. “You know that you should quit, so this year, make it a reality,” says Prachi. We don’t need to explain why giving up on cigarettes is good for your diet — just go ahead and do it!
     
  • Above and beyond “When you wake up, do a little stretching — stretch your back, legs and neck in particular. Start your day with 30 minutes of brisk walking,” Prachi tells us. This will wake your body up and help you to feel refreshed, which will indirectly help you with your diet.

The people who matter
Nutritionists can only do so much. It’s ultimately up to you to follow these resolutions. To get a glimpse of what people across the city have on their minds with respect to their diets in 2016, we spoke to a few about their plans. Find out what they’re telling us.

Prime fitness
For Sairaj Karande, student of civil engineering, the prime focus will be on fitness. “I plan to try my level best to stay in good shape. I feel like I have been neglecting my health for quite a while now and it’s time to get more serious about it. Apart from that, being the food lover that I am, I will try out new cuisines — with the portions in mind of course. I’m going to avoid eating most oily Punjabi food, except for my beloved butter chicken.” He also promises not to binge on sweets and desserts and instead choose a healthier option — fruit. Well Sairaj, we like the idea of opting for fruit, but giving up on buttery aloo parathas completely seems difficult — even to us!

Strike a balance
“Resolutions are made when you lack something. I believe that you should concentrate on staying fit. I usually eat everything that moves, so I’m excited to try out new cuisines this year!” Yash Pendse, architecture student, tells us. “However, I go a bit overboard and my main concern is staying within limits. I know my capacity and hope to be stronger and more flexible this year.” When we asked him what he’d suggest for others, he says, “Eat whatever you feel like, but, at the same time, make sure that you don’t overdo it to such an extent that you have to buy new clothes! Eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of recreation is my motto for 2016.”

Get the instagram body
Muzzammil Peerbhai, HR consultant, hopes to finally get that beach body that we all secretly desire, but knows that the transition is not going to be easy. “Being a self proclaimed hardcore foodie, it’s hard for me to stick to one cuisine. However, since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to build the much sought-after “shredded and toned” body, I think that eating healthy would be a much better option. I’m positive about this — I aim to balance my foodie instincts and my desire in a way that helps me to satisfy both.”

Keeping it simple
Jaya Mahale, an instructional designer, is focussing not just on making changes in her diet, but also on setting goals that are more achievable. “This year my husband Uday and I have a simple and workable resolution — cut out sweets and fried foods and eat only salads and soups for dinner. One hour of walking or running is all we need. No gyms, no swimming pool, or anything that requires more of an effort,” she says. And, does she think that they will succeed? “In the past, we used to resolve to lose a certain number of kilograms. This time, our only aim is to be consistent in our diet and regular in working out without thinking too much about the end result. We’ll be able to stick to our plan because it involves making small and incremental changes in our daily life that are easy to do,” she tells us.

Same old, same old
Leander Rebello, social media executive, doesn’t want to go overboard with his resolutions. “I want to keep it simple and try to meet my resolutions — avoid eating too much oily food, eat baked food over fried, consume foods with healthy carbohydrates, and eat fruits and vegetables that contain adequate amounts of water such as cucumbers, tomatoes, water melons and musk melons.” He wants his diet to support and help him grow. “I plan to eat at least two bananas a day and avoid consuming aerated drinks.”

Cut down on junk
“I know this may sound silly, but I eat junk food a lot — to the extent that my mother often forces me to take home-cooked food to work for lunch. Cutting down on junk food is just one thing that I hope to do this year,” says Nikita Nirmal, MBA student.

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