Good Health and good nutrition – the value system that needs to strongly develop in this world. Let us imagine a space where people place achieving and maintaining health as one of the pinnacles of life. When good health and diet is our ally, life turns our friend.
What are the key essentials to achieve good health and great nutrition? – this is an often-asked question. Could there be a simple strategy which if followed can lead to health creation?
Yes! We have put together a five-step guide to creation of health and nutrition that is easy to follow and could be the broad principles to manifest health into our lives.
Step 1: Think Health. Imagine Health
“The key to a healthy life is having a healthy mind.” ~ Richard Davidson
The mind is the source of everything. As we think, so we become. Health is no exception.
What use is a challenged body
- That does not support us, our mobility and does not allow us to be maximally productive
- Where the mind is dull and not alert enough and where aging happens young
- That has compromised mobility and is not able to serve its purpose
Is that how our bodies should be?
Do we have any responsibility to the body that is serving us and has served us well?
Think of all the experiences we have consumed – divine, enjoyable experiences – granted to us by our five senses, by the power of movement and mobility
Do we not want to give back to our body? Do we not want to take care of this body for better control of our life?
Yes! We can feel your heart say a resounding YES! YES We must!
Jim Rohn says it right when he says, Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live
We have to be on the path to fitness. We must evolve in supporting and nourishing our body better. We need to take the onus – for ourselves, our fellow brethren and our younger generations to come. If we do not take care of our bodies and our health then we will have to allow doctors to treat the disease
The way out is to THINK HEALTH and IMAGINE HEALTH
BRING HEALTHFUL BEHAVIOUR INTO EXISTENCE CONSCIOUSLY AND DELIBERATELY.
We are what we eat- We can either build ourselves or destroy ourselves by what we eat.
A person without the health mindset will think of the tongue or the stomach as the destination of food whereas a health evolved person will know that the food molecules integrate into each cell of our body, they are in the new cells forming – be it immune cells or skin cells or sperm cells. They regulate our brain function and therefore our cognition, our memory and our behaviour. That is where out food molecules dock and this is why Nutrition is a priority. The cellular level is also where optimum physical activity, exercise, stress reduction work.
Knowing this and respecting this and thus supporting this understanding is what the Health Mindset is all about.
Are we ready to look at health creation in the true form, at the source, the origin – of Creating a Health Mindset. A health mindset is both prayer and progress, both the cause and the effect of health creation. Let us be respectful of Health as a value, let us celebrate health, value health and achieve health.
To start with healthful behaviours, we need to first clarify the mind and seed it with the intention to choose health.
Here are three daily IMAGINE HEALTH affirmations for health creation:
- This is my Body – the Temple I live in. I choose to cherish it and to nourish it. I choose health and I choose practices of daily living that will suit my health goals
- I will not tarnish it with that which is not beneficial
- I will not pollute it with that which is harmful
Is there a very easy way to convert the Health Mindset into a Life Principle. Yes! The principle of BALANCE – Always choosing a Balanced view, a balanced diet and a balanced Lifestyle
Balanced View: Health is highly influenced by the mental makeup and by attitudes. Let us cultivate a balanced temperament – not prone to extremes but moderated by our common sense.
Balanced Diet: (Picture of myplate and Food pyramid)
We come back to the concept studied from the school level of the food pyramid – the way to choose our meals. As depicted in the figure, the largest component is the whole non processed, unsweetened grains, nourishing vegetables and fruits followed by the protein sources of beans, legumes, meat, milk and nuts. The calorie dense fats and oils need to be portioned out right because a little gives double the amount of calories.
Sugars – both table sugar, honey and foods containing added sugars have to be minimal as they do not have nutrients – they are empty calories and have no nutrient source to nourish.
Balanced Lifestyle: The Indian Council of Medical Research suggest the concept of a Reference Man and a Reference woman – two prototypes of humans who life well and so stay healthy. Reference humans work for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours and indulge in recreation and other activities for 4 hours – all components of a balanced lifestyle and of course eating right thus creating health.
Needless to say, adequate sleep has so many benefits that its time we take sleeping well seriously. It boosts the immune system, helps us rejuvenate and prevents disease.
Physical activity is another aspect that cannot be disregarded. Our population is leaning towards an increasingly disease creating, sedentary lifestyle. Incorporation of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise for 30 minutes each, thrice a week on alternate days across all lifestyle stages is crucial to create an environment of wellness
Thus, the first step to awesome health and the first element of good nutrition is TO IMAGINE HEALTH – THINK HEALTH AND LIVE WITH THE HEALTH MINDSET.
Step 2 : Immunity – the spinal cord of health.
Before one asks – How can we boost immunity, let us conceptualise what the immune system is and what it truly means to the body. Our immune system is our defence system, an organisation fortress to keep the body safe. From the first line of defence that is skin, the acid in the stomach, to all antimicrobial systems in place to the cells which ingest pathogens and the cells that make potent antibodies that nullify pathogens and toxins, all work together, in tandem to protect our body. The intestinal cells have embedded in it a defence system too. This is composed of cells which are ever vigilant against pathogens and toxins to the structure of the intestine which is as tightly held to make it an impenetrable fortress. The intestine also hosts various microorganisms with whom there exists a symbiotic relationship. This is another balance that must be maintained in order to keep up our immunity.
Thus, for vivid mental imagery so that we can be motivated enough to keep our immune system robust, let us place in our minds a picture of a fortress and vigilant soldiers and special ops and commando forces and undercover agents and the antimicrobial terrorist squad.
How can we not keep these forces well nourished, trained and capable enough to do their job…in fact we owe it to them.
One cannot disregard another part of the immune system – a part that causes inflammation – in reality a prelude to healing. But sometimes this unit goes rogue and out of control propelled by faulty eating habits, sub standard lifestyle and disease. This s another part that we need to control in order to keep our immune system well-oiled and healthy.
So now, let us talk about How do we boost immunity?
The answer is simple – live well and eat well. Whilst there are some sure shots to bettering immunity, we must understand that it is a consistent process of daily living.
Let us look at a few key aspects on maintaining immunity and curtailing inflammation
- Eat whole unprocessed foods– whole grains like whole rice, red/brown rice, whole pulses like Rajma, moong, chole, sprouts
- Include adequate protein in every meal – some form of cereal and pulse combinations or low fat milk and milk products, egg, lean meat and fish
- Stress on adequate vegetables in the diet. Let there be one serving of vegetables in all meals and include salads and soups with lunch and dinner.
- Use power packed nuts as a snack. Nuts have all the nutrients necessary to improve the immune system being packed with zinc, magnesium, folate and pyridoxine – all nutrients required to produce healthy immune cells as well as maintain the cells integrity so that they can work longer and harder to keep the immunity going.
- Snack on fruits in adequate portions. Packed with vitamins and minerals and the very important fibre for intestinal health, fruits in the right serving size will contribute a lot to boosting immunity.
- Choose the right fats in the diet. Avoid foods specially processed with high fat content (like cakes, pastries and baked snacks) Use unprocessed oils for cooking especially mustard oil, groundnut oil, soybean oil and rice bran oil. Include a portion of flaxseeds, chia seeds or walnuts in the diet and fish lovers can choose a portion of fatty fish like salmon or tuna or sardines. These have fats which subdue inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
- Slash sugar from the diet. Sugar is a completely processed food that weakens the immune system as well as increases inflammation. Apart from restraining the addition of excess sugar in the diet and going easy on sweets, red flags like maida (refined wheat flour), sugar laced beverages and carbonated beverages, processed foods containing large amounts of sugar – often in the form of disease-causing high fructose corn syrup disrupt the immune system.
- Straighten your lifestyle
- Adequate sleep is a driver of the immune system and a wonderful way to keep uncontrolled inflammation in check. 8 hours of healthful sleep will keep the immune system energised
- Un sedentarise your life: Increased physical activity which is conscious and consistent will go a long way to better the immune system. Include some heartbeat increasing exercise thrice a week for 30 minutes (brisk walking, running, dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, sports) and some muscle building exercise thrice a week for 30 minutes (Planks, squats, push ups, crunches, lunges or exercising with weights)
- Relax your way to a better immune system. It is important to unwind, relax, laugh more, indulge in hobbies and do the things you love to better health. The better the perceived quality of life, the stronger is the immune system.
So, while these are the prerequisites for building the immune system, there are some immunity boosters too. But remember, the building up comes before the boosting up.
Some Immunity boosters:
- Green tea for reducing inflammation.
- Use 1 tbsp of flax seeds/chia seeds/1 tsp of flaxseed oil/a handful of walnuts daily
- Use good quality turmeric along with pepper powder in cooking as well as include turmeric laced milk in the diet
- Inclusion of Vitamin C rich foods – Fruits (citrus like Oranges, seasonal fruits berries, capsicum, guava, lemon juice (without the sugar of course), amla (Indian gooseberry)
- Hydrate well. Remember to drink adequate water to replenish fluids – as you know 70% of any cell (including the immune cells) is water.
- Use variety of herbs, spices and seasonings – Mint, garlic (wonderful immunity caretaker), ginger, curry leaves, onions and spices like cumin, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
- Feed the gut well: Use foods with good and beneficial bacteria like curds, yogurt, fermented rice and herb pickles.
And of course, there are immune destroying habits too – those that we have to avoid
- Stress – physical, emotional and mental
- Lack of sleep
- Eating processed food that give us empty calories without nutrients
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Taking a sugar boost – a carbonated beverage drink with a large sugar and phosphoric acid load
- Negative attitudes – Let us never forget that the brain and thoughts affect our biology and can powerfully modulate the immune system
Here are three daily IMAGINE HEALTH affirmations for keeping the immune system health:
- I renew my commitment to my body to fully support my immune system and build it to become impenetrable
- I nourish my immune system and I work every day to keep it the strongest it can be
- I choose nutrients in every meal to support my body’s efforts to keep me healthy and I refuse those choices that slowly degrade my immunity
Step 3: Choosing Health
If you have landed on this page, then you are a seeker of health. The thoughts of what is the right food choice is one of the foremost thoughts in your mind and you are right now thinking of choosing health!
Health creation is all about choices. Good health is a Home that we build over years. Just as a home is made of brick and mortar first and then with love and commitment, health is created by consistent nutritious choices first and then continued by love and commitment to the body and our highest good.
Let us explore choices that will be a huge start in the creation of health.
- The correct scheduling of meals: Current lifestyle has taken a toss with respect to our biological schedules. We eat when we need to sleep and starve when the body needs nourishment. Our body operates on a particular biological rhythm – the circadian rhythm. The organs of our body work well within a particular time frame and if this is not honoured – it can disturb the natural metabolism balance and lead to disease. The best time to eat is between sunrise and sunset. That is the time that the body needs maximum nourishment and it is the time that the organs and metabolism function the best. Let’s explore a suggested schedule and composition of meals
- Designing a good breakfast: The first question is when should we eat the first meal of the day. It is best had soon after waking up. What we have to remember is that the body is in a fasting state in the night. By morning the blood glucose levels have dropped along with most nutrient levels. The body is craving for nourishment and if it is not provided, it breaks down muscles for maintaining blood glucose, a scenario we cannot afford as muscle mass is the pillar of good health. If there is requirement for calcium then it is sourced from the bones. Can we afford a slow degradation of our bones? Whereas with other nutrients, the body waits and keeps its metabolism and growth on hold till they are available, thus staying in a compromised state an open invitation for disease.
We can offset this with a hearty breakfast. This is a meal that needs to be a robust one, which gives energy and is nourishing. Let us layer up a good breakfast:
- Start the base with good quality carbohydrates which can come from unprocessed cereals and millets (whole wheat, jowar, bajra, ragi, whole rice and products)
- Add the pillars of protein – Milk and milk products (low fat), pulses, eggs, lean meat
- Then enhance it with a micronutrient and fiber punch – nuts, fruit, vegetables
- Ensure the calcium is there – from low fat dairy or whole cereals and millets like ragi, pulses and vegetables.
An example of a breakfast design
Principle – A good carbohydrate base
Ingredient – whole wheat flour
Principle – protein –
Ingredient – Dal/ egg
Principle – Micronutrient and fiber punch
Ingredient – Vegetables and nuts
Principle – Ensure calcium
Ingredient – Low fat dairy
And now let’s put it together as a meal…
Dal Paratha with cucumber and peanut raita or Egg veggie peanut roll or for the one in a rush – whole jowar flakes with milk with added nuts and fruit or whole wheat toast and boiled egg washed down with a cup of nut milk shake
How easy is that! Go ahead – unleash your nutri creativity and design health – all we need is the mindset for health
Can we not work with these ideas and our health mindset to ensure our morning slice of nourishment? Oh! We must and if we don’t the effects create an environment of disease. This is proven by decades of research which states that missing breakfast and /or a compromised breakfast leads to increased risk for incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and declines brain power.
Designing our main meals: Our main meals (actually it includes breakfast too, but let us look at lunch and dinner here) give us our staple quota of nutrients. It needs to include all food groups in the right amounts and proportions.
The main parts of our plate are
- A portion of whole grain cereals or millets
- A large portion of vegetables for micronutrients, fiber and gut health – Salad/soup and vegetables as a side dish
- A portion of protein – pulse, milk products or egg, lean meat or fish
- The right kinds and amounts of fat
And an example – 2 rotis + 1 katori dal + 1katori Raita + cauliflower and peas vegetable – Doesn’t that sound great!
A few tips with regards dinner:
- Make it early and make it light, definitely lighter than lunch – the closer to sunset the better it is. It is really foolish to provide a large slice of energy when the body is not going to be using it in the night. What a conducive environment for the body to store all that energy into fat beneath the skin and around our abdomen!
- Avoid sweets and sweet beverages after dinner
- A light bedtime snack can be taken – think a cup of milk or a portion of fruit IF it has been a really early dinner
- Eating a late dinner and then also indulging in a bedtime snack over a TV show is definitely not healthful.
Designing a healthful snack: Snacks are meant to provide for in between doses of glucose to keep the blood sugar consistent so that the body can be at its most productive. Think snack, think nutrition.
So, it’s definitely not processed bread or toast or khari or biscuits or refined noodles and a cup of tea!
Let’s make a switch to healthy snacks
- Whole grain cereal products like puffed wheat, puffed jowar, rajkeera, low fat khakhra
- Pulses – chana chaat, moong sprouts, plain roasted chana, soya nuts puffed
- Nuts – a supremely power packed blast of micronutrients and fiber
- Fruit – perfect for that time when we want to eat a bit of nourishment but not enough to kill our hunger for the next meal
- A well designed ready to eat snack that is made to nourish
A Call out to nutrition entrepreneurs who manufacture such ready to eat wonderful snacks that support out choice to create health!
- Choosing the right lifestyle and choosing the health mindset always. This needs to be a consistent choice – adequate sleep, moving more, exercising and staying off those foods that harm.
- Choose to minimise habits that harm:
Alcohol intake: Alcohol leaves us intoxicated – a word to be examined – it literally means TOXINS IN the body. While we may relate to intoxication as a feeling of being high, alcohol toxifies every tissue it touches. That is precisely why the liver then has to detoxify the alcohol and excrete it out of the system. So, when its alcohol – the mantra is moderation.
Smoking and Tobacco: This one is a no brainer – its not minimising it but avoiding it completely. The chemicals contained in cigarette smoke and tobacco are killers and they destroy the metabolism and create a war zone in the body. Smokers need three times more Vitamin C than non-smokers to protect the cells from the harmful effects. Here it is complete avoidance without negotiation.
- Delete the S3 – The Sugar, The Stress and the Sedentary: Find the sweetness in life, reduce stress consciously and move more!
Choose the attitude of Disease prevention: In the current global environment of metabolic diseases, it is important to work towards to changing it and reducing the disease burden. The Mindset of disease prevention is to be foremost in our minds – from individual to family to the globe. Let’s look at a roadmap for disease prevention
- Set the goal of creating and choosing health
- Know that our food and lifestyle have the potential to affect our genes and can either cause diseases to manifest earlier or can create diseases due to genetic change or can offset the occurrences of disease.
- Disease prevention involves careful nutrition and lifestyle choices across lifecycle stages – right from fetal nutrition, breastfeeding practices, complementary feeding and infant nutrition, nutrition during childhood and adolescence as well as nutrition for the elderly.
- Emphasise on Nourishment and not Diet. Minimise the stress (pun intended) on weight loss and concentrate on giving the body the best possible nutrient profile that is based on sustenance and also committing ourselves to be on the path towards fitness.
Here are three daily IMAGINE HEALTH affirmations for the mindset of choosing health:
- I know that health is a choice and I consciously choose it over and over
- Let me let go of choices made that slowly erode my health
- I renew my commitment to wellness everyday and I hold on to that so that I may experience productivity at its peak.
Step 4: The Mindful Route towards Health
Mindfulness, a term used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, a practice that promotes this awareness, a mode of processing information, and a characterological trait can play a major role in creating this mind-set and bringing the community closer to improved health.
Mindfulness has been studied in relation to physical health in great detail specifically in relation to diet, nourishment eating patterns and lifestyle choices. This strategy has been found to improve the effect of preventive programmes as well as therapeutic ones both for physical and mental health.
Some attitudes of mindful eating and mindful lifestyle
- Train the mind for mindful eating. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, “What does my body need” Being mindful about eating is a conscious decision and is a choice for health. Training the mind for mindful eating is about introspection and being brutally honest with ourselves on what drives our behaviour towards food choices.
- Examine hunger. The need to eat does not always stem from hunger. Mindful eating is about understanding our desire to eat. The questions that can be asked are:
- Am I really hungry? Think about the timing of the last meal. A good meal takes about 2 -3 hours to empty from the stomach. So, if hunger pangs strike before that it may not be ‘Hunger’ after all!
- Respond only to real physiological cues to eat. The questions to ask are – Where is my hunger coming from? Is my hunger emanating from the stomach (in which case we experience hunger pangs) or is it mind hunger or cephalic phase of hunger which gets stimulated when we think of food or get a whiff of a delicious aroma or see a bedazzling picture of a tasty treat, for eg. An Instagram post of a well decorated pastry. Could it be heart hunger or hunger driven by emotional turbulence or stress, where we want to fill an emotional need or void and we resort to filling it up with comfort food.
- Re-examine if any negative attitudes towards food and body image exist. This may push us towards wrong food choices. Food needs to be viewed positively as nourishment. We need to keep a positive and loving energy flow to our body, treat it with respect and love and take it along the path of fitness.
- Am I choosing health or am I choosing only taste? Let us intentionally choose taste when blended with nourishment.
- How many times a week are my food choices based on processed and not whole?
- How many times a week have I slept a restful adequate sleep?
- How many times a week have I moved enough, consciously decided to be less sedentary and exercised my daily quota?
Some Practices for mindful eating and mindful lifestyle:
- Invest in eating well: Eat slowly, chew well, taste the food well. Appreciate the flavours emanating from the food, its visual appeal and its delicious aroma. The Divine has granted us the grace to enjoy food sensually – with all aspects of the senses and not just taste. Eating slowly will help us go understand when we have reached a point of satiety. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full. A relaxed eating schedule helps us thus put the body and mind in sync.
- Have a sense of gratitude for the food available. Starting the meal with a prayer is a wonderful way to elevate the place of food to a place of nourishment. Appreciate the food and the hands that have prepared it.
- Examine conditioned responses towards unhealthy food choices. Make a note of the amount of caramel popcorn chosen in a movie theatre, the number of slices of cake at a birthday party, the dessert portion or the portion of each dessert served after a full meal. The question to be asked is – Is this required or will this contribute to an imbalance in my body?
- A No Distraction Policy: Let meal times be sacred times without the mind-numbing screen presence of TV or a mobile or a computer. This will reduce the mind body awareness and contribute to eating more and eating mindlessly. Let meal times occur in designated places, with family or sitting in silence.
- Organise and schedule: Planning and organising food related activity will assist in being more mindful in food choices which will have a direct positive impact on health. Organisation and scheduling can be done right from the fridge, the kitchen, the shopping list and weekly menu planning.
- Stock up the fridge with only what is required for the week, based on the planned menu.
- Keep healthful snack options ready for eg – sprouts, low fat paneer, vegetable mixtures as sandwich filling, boiled chana, fruits, all to whip up a quick snack for hungry times, without resorting to packed foods
- Make a weekly menu schedule so that time is not wasted thinking about what needs to be prepared.
- Keep a pre prepared shopping list based on the menu planned so that unnecessary items are not purchased and impulse shopping is avoided.
- Examine food buying habits. The questions to be asked are – How many times a week do I buy that which is not healthful? How many times a week do I buy food on impulse? How many times a week do I have to buy food (both raw and prepared) in an emergency and without thought? Do I buy to include variety in vegetables and fruits as a varied diet is nutritionally beneficial?
- Budget for nutrition not just food. This implies deleting unhealthy choices and replacing it with healthy ones. Once budgeted, buying nutritious food will be easier on the packet
- Do not fall for marketing gimmicks – two portions for the same price or 40% extra. The mind needs to be told – why buy if I do not need it.
- Eating unnecessary calories is a waste too! A new take on wasting food – Understand that unrequired calories eaten will get deposited as fat and that too is a waste – not just wasting food on the plate.
- Be mindful about lifestyle patterns too. The questions to ask are – Do I pay attention to when I am sitting for long periods of time? Do I intentionally make the effort to break the pattern of sitting for too long? Do I schedule my exercise daily? Am I mindful about my daily exercise pattern? Do I schedule my sleep for health?
- Portion out mindful food choices and lifestyle habits in little bits slowly, meal by meal, habit by habit over a period of time till it becomes an aware choice for life and turns into a life habit.
Benefits of mindful eating and mindful lifestyle:
Mindfulness in life definitely helps in making consistent choices towards health. It harmonises our Body, Soul and Mind beautifully and can be a highly effective strategy for positive behaviour change. Benefits of mindful eating and mindful lifestyle range from achieving a healthy weight to improving nutritional choices and being better nourished to experiencing more energy and having a sense of control over one’s eating behaviour and health.
Here are three daily IMAGINE HEALTH affirmations for mindful eating and mindful lifestyles’:
- I understand that my food choices start in the mind and when I understand my thinking patterns my nutrition related behaviour will change for the better.
- I am constantly mutating my thought processes that lead to unhealthful life choices into consistent positive empowering thoughts that lead to healthful life choices
- I honour my Body Temple and renew my commitment to keep it in health daily in a revering mindful way.
Step 5: Brewing Health in the Kitchen
Once we have prioritised health, set the mindset of mindfulness, planned for our meals, understood the reasoning behind good food choices and protected our immune system, all that remains is to translate these concepts to a daily life practice. Much of good health is created in our kitchens. The person cooking in the house while reading the plethora of information available at our fingertips usually gets overwhelmed with the seeming immensity of the task of cooking healthy everyday.
Reminder — It is a trickle of water drops falling on the mountain face over time that breaks out a rock from it.
So do not get overwhelmed or confused with all the material available. Follow these strategies which will surely ease out your goal in creating wholesome nourishing food from your simple kitchen
- Planning: Set aside a day or two evenings to process the above-mentioned steps and make a plan for the food that will be prepared. Easiest is the weekly menu plan or a 10 day menu plan.
Make sure you think of the following:
- The family’s daily schedule: Look at when each person needs to leave home and what they need to carry with them. Based on this, reflect on how much time you have to put together the meals.
- Preferences of the members: Outline a list of any special preferences or health needs of the family members. For e.g – some may dislike milk or some may be allergic to any ingredient or may have a health concern that needs to be taken care of. This is important when putting together a menu as it will need to be designed to be flexible for this purpose
- Make a plan for all meals and snacks. Follow the principles mentioned in the above steps. Look at the meals /snacks that are consumed from out and choose healthy alternatives while eating out. Consider This can be discussed with the family members.
- Schedule meals and snacks that you and your family wish to sample which is not from the home. It is understandable that we would want to eat from out and sample various cuisines to satisfy our palate. This is best done mindfully and scheduled in the weekly menu as desired. Eating out should be limited to one meal and one snack in a week.
- Blending Nutrition with convenience: Given the busyness of our lives, it is understandable that one cannot always be thinking about food preparation. If we need to create sustainable healthy food choices, it has to be an easy to achieve target. Thus, like a good marriage where two twines blend to make the rope stronger, we need to think about merging the easy and the convenient with nutrition for our health decisions to last. Some strategies that could be used are:
- Pre preparation: Once the planning is ready, the pre preparation is easier. This involves making part of the meals earlier and refrigerating it. Some examples are – caramelising the onions for three days or making the basic onion tomato gravy or keeping spice and herbs mixes ready. A time needs to be allotted to do this for a scheduled time period in the week. This will make actual food preparation easier and faster.
This also can be extended to pre prepared shopping lists that can be used on a weekly and monthly basis and repeated over time or modified as per seasonal change in menu or to accommodate celebratory occasions.
- Take help: This is an all-important point to help ensure a nutrient bustling kitchen that is always serving health. Three sources of help could be:
- Good appliances for pre preparation and preparation are pre requisites for whipping up a smart meal in a jiffy. A good food processor that will cut, grate, chop, blend and mix in the way that you need is an essential.
- Choose cooking utensils wisely. Avoid aluminium based cookware which can leach aluminium into foods, a dangerous proposition as aluminium can be deposited in tissues and cause serious damage to vital organs including the brain.
- Household help is a great assistance: With our busy schedules, if there is help for pre preparation and stocking the fridge for healthy ingredients or making rotis for the entire day, then do consider it. In addition to it providing livelihood to a person, it will take off some responsibility for us to relax and refresh after a busy day’s schedule
If the household help can be trained to prepare food as per the right cooking methods and according to our requirements, it’s the cherry on the cake!
- Help from the Family: Gone are the days that only the woman of the household cooks. In the present scenario where the woman is also a breadwinner and with the responsibilities of overseeing children’s education, a family cannot and must not leave the entire responsibility of nutrition on her. Every member of the family must contribute with the planning and executive decisions resting with the female nurturer of the house. This point is for both males and females of the household and we tell HER to delegate, delegate and delegate more albeit gently and lovingly. Purchasing wholesome foods, some pre preparations can be delegated. Children must be involved in food preparation as and to how much they are capable. They can help with pre preparation and also preparation of food. They need to be lovingly guided that if they increasingly desire freedom, the need to take responsibility too. The whole family can be part of the Nutri Creativity.
- Using leftovers wisely: In a bustling nutri creative kitchen, some food that is left over is bound to occur. We need to find creative solutions to modify it and serve it in a safe and nutritious way. There are some amazing time saving ways to incorporate leftover rice and rotis and vegetables.
- Scheduling some easy to prepare meals in the week: Not all meals need to be elaborate ones. What is important to look at is – whether all aspects of a healthful; meal have been incorporated. Certain days a dinner can be a quick vegetable khichdi and curd with sliced cucumbers or a vegetable sprout gravy, rice and curd. Give simple preparations a whiff of aroma with creative herbs and seasonings and flavourful spices
Move from Fast food to Fit Fabulous Food
Fast cooking implies cooking in a hurry, mindlessly, a chore to be completed without putting in the thought of nutrient density into it. Fast eating is mindlessly gulping down food without thought to nourishing our bodies, only relying on taste and mouthfeel and not about the cues from our bodies. Fast food is that which is made with compromised nutrient density and with parts of the whole nourishing food missing due to processing.
Thus, we need a turnaround from his FAST FOOD to FIT FABULOUS FOOD.
The emphasis has to be on nourishment and vitality. The accent has to be on our commitment to the family’s health. Here are four justified strategies to enable the conversion of Fast Food into Fit Food:
- Choose whole foods instead of refined foods: The process of refining leads to loss of many valuable nutrients and fibre. For eg. Whole wheat flour is a great source of iron but refined flour (maida) is not. Think of the teenager in the house who needs increasing amounts of iron, but does not receive enough as he has replaced rotis with bread or naans.
- Think whole grain cereals like unpolished rice and millets like Jowar, Bajra, Ragi that we can incorporate instead of refined flour and refined polished rice
- Think of using more whole pulses like Rajma, moong, masoor instead of polished dals.
- Think of using seasonal vegetables servings for every meal- those fragrant, uniquely flavoured gifts of nature filled with nourishment
- Think of at least two fruits a day – more the variation in your choices, the better it is – power packed with fuel for the growth of good bacteria in the intestine and vitamins and minerals. Avoid juices and fruit drinks.
- Avoid an excess of sugar: Yes! Sugar is ultra-processed and ultra-refined. The beautiful sunkissed healthful sugarcane juice is converted into a white crystalline substance that is addictive and dangerous for metabolism.
Let us examine a concept here of the effect of refined products on our metabolism:
These are digested very easily as there is very little fibre in them. Thus, the blood glucose rises very quickly. This leads to release of insulin proportionately to the tsunami of glucose in the blood. This insulin drives the glucose into the cells and the liver. The liver converts all this excess glucose (excess because we are a sedentary population and so are not using up all that glucose – so definitely an excess) to FAT and is taken to be stored below our skin and around the abdomen, processes which are harmful for health and that which drives our bodies to diseases.
So, lets say NO to Sugar or at least LESS to Sugar.
- The load of food additives: Processed foods also contain numerous additives which could be harmful. The additives in one pack may not be much and is within safe limits, but we need to examine the cumulative effects of additives from multiple processed food choices in a day or in a week specially in people with already challenged health as well as in children.
- Choose home cooking for health: Once we apply the above mentioned strategies and with a little commitment and focus, the kitchen can turn into a place where we are cooking food for the mind body and soul and that which is nourishing and sustaining. It can be the centre of the home where nutricreativity reigns and we can manifest the health that we imagine, a place where food that may not be nutrient replete can be turned around to that which is nutrient dense and disease preventive. The kitchen can become a place where Health Magic happens!
Here are three daily IMAGINE HEALTH affirmations for Brewing Health in the Kitchen:
- I commit to my kitchen being the place from where my family is nourished with wholesome nutrition.
- I pledge that with the tools of nutri creativity and with some assistance, I will seek to empower my family with health
- I honour my Body Temple and sustain it with the magic of nourishment from my home’s kitchen
This blog post should have stirred up your mind towards health and towards the commitment to nurture and support your body. If you need more intense inputs, then keep reading.
Also remember, there are professionals who can give you tailormade diets to suit your requirements -you could consult a qualified Dietitian /Nutritionist who has a graduate or post graduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
So, lets review the Universe’s Health Message for you today…
So, are we ready to co create health and live with a healthy mindset? Do connect to us with your questions, comments and feedback.