Our perception of healthy food is black and white and thus, going on a diet seems daunting. It sounds like a mountain we wouldn’t be able to climb or a lifestyle change that we won’t be able to afford.
When, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. All kinds of food items have a potential to be healthy or unhealthy. Context, cooking and lifestyle are some of the factors to determine if something is healthy or unhealthy. What’s good for your body may not be good for the other person. Depending on how you’re cooking, even oats can be unhealthy. What you eat, how much you eat (portion size), and how many times you eat must be as per your lifestyle and change accordingly.
While there’s enough information around context and cooking, there’s very little on how diet must mirror your lifestyle. It should be remembered that food should adapt to your lifestyle. Not the other way round. Let’s take a simple example of this. In rainy weather, we enjoy warm beverages and feel better.
If we consume the same of amount of these beverages in summer, we’ll be sweating a lot. Similarly, eating three full meals and two-three snacks in childhood does very little to our body, but the same amount of food in adulthood would make us overweight and lethargic.
So when Manushi, Femina Miss India 2017, started modelling and entered the pageant, her diet changed drastically from a carefree woman to a serious candidate. She didn’t just need food to stay in shape and brighten up her skin.
She needed proper nutrition to heal her body and mind too. Many consider eating a therapy without realising that food actually plays a therapeutic role. Stress, for example, has its relief plan hidden inside a balanced diet. Same is true for menstrual cramps or mood swings.
It’s funny how food retailers have taught us that we’re too busy to cook our own food. But, that’s not true. If we’re determined to stay healthy, then cooking for self becomes fun. And that’s what Manushi did too. Being a vegetarian on her way to winning a beauty pageant, she cooked her food to keep a strict eye on her calorie intake and nutrition balance. Everybody wants to get healthy.
That is why we download health apps, buy fitness gears, set alarms early and search aisles for healthiest food possible. But, somewhere we also know that big changes are hard to make and small ones need persistence and determination. We believe in baby steps that turn into habits and then into a ritual, so that you no longer have to worry about health.
That’s why we designed a 15-day health and nutrition challenge where you add one healthy item or habit to your day and observe the difference, such as going for an evening walk, having a fruit with every meal, letting go of screens two hours before bedtime, swapping aerated drinks with smoothies, and watching the sunrise.
If health has always been on your mind and you needed an extra push to see where it would take you, then this is it. Let’s get into a harmonious relationship with our food.
(The writer is founder and chief dietician, Nmami Life)