Eating right can seem overwhelming. Almost everyone we know is on one diet plan or the other. Some swear by paleo, others by gluten-free food; still, others claim that the trick is to go fully vegan. What makes things more complex is that expert recommendations change every few years.
Given that you have to track calories, avoid trans fats, eat sufficient proteins and ensure that all micronutrients are taken care of. Eating well that is filled with good nutrition can take a lot of time. This can seem nearly impossible given the pace of urban life. But not to worry.
We dive into time-tested wisdom to present a simple and intuitive way by which you can ensure that you eat healthy, nourishing food without losing your mind. What’s more, different kinds of food can have other effects on your body and mind. A balanced meal can go a long way in ensuring psychological balance and wellbeing. Seems surprising? Read on!
How to make eating healthily sustainable?
The most significant rule to live by a healthy diet for life long is that if you can’t see yourself doing or continue a diet for a year or two or more, then it’s not right for you. It’s high time you change your diet.
More often, some people do extreme diets that they can’t maintain. They can go as strict as not eating or eating the least initially, and soon in 1-2 weeks, they get over this and get back to the regular or fast food or fatty food routine. This means that they never actually develop long-term healthy eating habits.
According to statistics, the weight gain numbers are very frightening, and most people regain all the weight they lost soon after they attempted to lose the weight through diet or intense physical activity.
To avoid this type of situation, the only key is maintaining a balance. Until you have a specific disease or a dietary guideline, you will not require to keep any food at bay. Usually, if you eliminate a particular food, you used to eat regularly, instead of losing the appetite. In that case, you may increase your cravings, which will eventually decrease your long-term goals.
To reach your ultimate goal, you should base 90 percent of your diet on whole food or fiber food and eat the food in smaller portions. It will allow you to feel that you are getting a complete quantity of meals and get the occasional joy of enjoying some treats. With this pattern of maintaining the diet, you will not be refrained from enjoying your favorite food; at the same time, you can achieve your health goals.
This process is the healthiest approach that you can opt for, rather than doing the opposite that is consuming 90 percent processed foods or fat-full food and only 10 percent whole or fiber-rich food, as most people usually do.
Why should we do portion control?
Controlling your calorie intake is suitable for the beginning of a healthy life. It is also a critical factor in losing weight or controlling it. By managing your food portions, you start maintaining a balanced diet, and you are more likely to avoid intaking too many unnecessary calories. These unnecessary calories later get stored in the body as fats, which increases weight and fat in the body. Portion control or a low-calorie diet will help individuals with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
On the other hand, whole foods are a lot harder to overeat than processed ones, but they can still be eaten in excess, and people can get addicted to them. If you are overweight or are trying fat and weight loss programs, it becomes even more critical to monitor your food intake portion.
Well, it isn’t as simple as you think it can be; many simple strategies can be applied that will help to control your portion size.
You can start it with a small trick, that is, replacing your big plates with smaller ones and make sure to take a smaller or average portion of food, in the first serving. Wait for 15-20 minutes before you consume a second portion and ensure that it is little than the previous one.
Another best approach to cut down on portions is measuring your food using your hand. You can take it as, limit most of your meal to 1 fist-sized amount of carbs or carbohydrates, 1-2 palms of proteins, and 1-2 thumb size of healthy fats. Always choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats, and if you want to exclude fats sometimes, then it is good.
Try to avoid fatty foods! However, you could eat calorie-dense food such as legumes, brown rice, dairy products, cheese, nuts, and lean meats that are tasty and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Make sure to include the food groups that you love but have fewer calories! But ensure to pay attention to the portion size you are eating. Don’t overeat and try to control the amount of food you intake.
What is the Best Food to Eat?
There are many whole-grain, fiber-rich, and healthy food that you could enjoy and not gain any weight. Below mentioned are some of the best healthy yet tasty food that comes with many health benefits that you could eat and build a better immune system.
Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrition and taste good. These are loaded with carotenoid, which is an excellent source of potassium and fiber. You can eat a baked or boiled sweet potato, or you can toss sweet potato wedges in a little bit of olive oil. Roast the sweet potatoes until they become tender and lightly browned. When done perfectly, sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and seasoning that you love.
Who doesn’t love mangoes! It’s not just the king of fruits; it is even the king of food lover’s heart. If you have a cup of mango juice or a mango every day, you will get 100 percent of the day’s required vitamin C, one-third of that day’s vitamin A, a nice dose of potassium that helps to lower blood pressure, and 3 grams of necessary fiber. Apart from all these, they are irresistible. You can find a variety of mangoes smaller, sweeter, bigger, and all are tastier. Available from March to July. Make sure not to miss the mango season. Fresh fruits are rich in antioxidants and macronutrients.
Plain Greek Yogurt
Yogurt makes one of the best desserts and breakfasts. The fat-free unsweetened Greek yogurt is the best. It has a certain tinge of tartness that works perfectly with the natural sweetness of the fruits, berries, bananas, or even with your whole grain cereals. The zero-fat yogurt is strained, so it’s very thick and creamy. Once the yogurt loses all the liquid, it means that whatever is left has twice as much protein as ordinary yogurt. It now contains 15 grams of protein per 5 ounces of plain zero percent greek yogurt.
We all recognize this vegetable as the most hated among the kids. But, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin K, and folate. Boiled or steamed broccoli is perfect for health. Steam is until it’s bright green and exact tender. Toss it in a pan with some vegetable oil, add a little salt, pepper and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of it. You will taste one of the best and yummy vegetables. There a lot of YouTube and social media videos available that will help you in making vegetables yummy. Turning your bland vegetable into something interesting is the best to eat it and get its nutrients.
Fatty fish like salmon are rich in vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and are good sources of protein. It helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart diseases and strokes. According to many sources, it has been seen than wild-caught salmon are more sustainable than that of the farmed salmon. It’s always better to keep few fillets of salmon in pouches. So, whenever you want to eat salmon, you have to take out from the pantry and cook it. With every fillet in each pouch, it doesn’t disturb the other ones.
Call it old-fashioned or taste-less! But you have to agree that oatmeal is one of the healthiest and low-fat meals. It is quick, full of proteins, and gives instant energy. It makes a hearty whole-grain breakfast that can be made in few minutes. Every half cup of dry and plain rolled oats contains 4 grams of fiber, and approximately half of it is easy soluble that helps lower cholesterol.
While coming to the taste part, you can always add little vegetables while cooking it. Or you can top your oatmeal with some toasted almonds, walnuts, and raisins; you can even add your favorite fruit like bananas, apples, or kiwis, and top all these off with a bit of honey or maple syrup. Eat your oatmeal with a glass of fresh fruit juice; it will turn into your ultimate morning breakfast. You can always customize and add the toppings you want and make them tasteful for you.
Usually, all beans are very healthy and filled with proteins. The garbanzo beans are rich in protein, fiber, copper, folate, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. These beans are the best because they are very versatile. You can always check for the no-salt-added varieties that come in huge quantities in carton boxes. You can make it tasty by adding a handful of tossed salad, or you can stir them into your curries, vegetable stews, and even in soups.
Watermelon is very nutritious and has heavyweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving of about 2 cups of watermelon has one-third of each day’s Vitamins A and C. You will even get a nice shot of potassium and a good dose of lycopene for only 90 percent fat-free and salt-free calories. Watermelon’s grown locally in most countries. When they are in season, they come for a very low price. You can enjoy watermelon for your breakfast bowls, desserts, and even as snacks. This fruit has a smaller carbon footprint than most of the other fruits.
This might not look like a yummy and nice vegetable! But it is one of the healthiest food that you should try out. Steam a slice of squash, or you can directly buy a peeled, diced butternut squash from your nearest supermarket that’s ready to go. You can make an excellent stir-fry or a soup. Making a soup or stir-fry using butternut squash is very easy and satisfying. Squash contains a lot of vitamins A and C and fiber.
Never miss out on green vegetables! It is also known as powerhouse greens like kale, lettuce, collards, spinach, swiss chard, and mustard greens. The leafy greens are always loaded with many vitamins A, vitamins C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. You can saute the leafy greens with some of your favorite vegetables and boiled meat, add some olive oil, minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Or you can always add the leafy greens to your favorite burger or sandwich and make it healthy and crunchy.
Food, Taste, and Wellbeing
Ayurveda says that balanced food, restful sleep, and healthy sex life are the three pillars of good health. Choosing the right food and using suitable spices can provide nutrition and actively prevent cardiovascular diseases.
The Ayurvedic understanding of food is based on taste. You read that right. Taste. Instead of asking you to ignore taste to be healthy, this system helps you make intelligent tastes to have both healthy and enjoyable meals.
This makes sense because the tongue is connected to your digestive system. Ideally, its job is to identify what food is suitable for your body and in what proportion. Ayurveda asks you to build on this natural ability by educating yourself about the different tastes and health effects.
The Six Rasas
Ayurveda categorizes food into six types based on Rasa(taste). These six tastes are Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour), Lavana (salt), Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), and Kashaya (astringent). An ideal meal has a balance of all six tastes, personalized, of course, to your unique doshic constitution (as with all things Ayurveda). When in doubt, go by your tongue. If something tastes sweet and leaves a sweet aftertaste, it’s most probably Madhura. The same applies to other tastes as well. Let’s look at the first three Rasas and their effects on both body and mind.
Madhura foods include almost all cereals, including whole wheat and rice, and natural sweeteners like jaggery, grapes, ghee, milk, and almonds.
Foods with Madhura Rasa are generally nourishing for the body. They enhance immunity, give strength, and ensure the growth and development of body tissues. It nourishes hair, improves complexion, heals wounds, and soothes the senses. It’s best to start a meal with this taste.
However, this is not a free license to indulge. Refined sugars are not Madhura. In excess, Madhura foods lead to lethargy, obesity, and excessive sleeping. You know this first hand from the times you might have had one gulab jamun too many. In extreme quantities, it can lead to loss of appetite and increase the risk of blood sugar.
On the psychological level, Madhura rasa promotes a feeling of happiness and contentment. When consumed in excess, it creates attachment and a sense of possessiveness.
These foods increase Kapha and pacify both Vata and Pitta. So if your body type has Kapha, it’s a good idea to go light on these foods.
Typical foods with Alma Rasa include tamarinds, lemons, and all fermented foods like curd and buttermilk. Cheese is a prime example of Alma Rasa. These are generally considered digestive stimulants that enhance appetite, improve digestion, and help relieve bloating. Amla Rasa should follow Madhura in a meal.
However, when eaten in excess, it can lead to thirst, acidity, heartburn, and even hot flushes. It can heat your body and cause skin diseases in excess. Over some time, it can accelerate the greying of hair and wrinkling of the skin. So if you want to stay young, avoid that heartburn and healthcare services, go light on Amla Rasa.
On the psychological level, Amla Rasa awakens the senses, improves sharpness and decision-making ability. However, in excess, it can lead to envy, anger, and resentment.
Amla foods can increase Pitta and Kapha doshas and reduce Vata. So if your body type has Pitta, it’s good to moderate these foods.
Lavana ( Salty)
Lavana foods are typically salts, including rock salt, mineral salt, and black salt. Since watery vegetables like tomatoes and cucumber also contain salt, they are considered Lavana foods. In an ideal meal sequence, Lavana Rasa must follow Madhura and Amla’s tastes.
These foods can improve appetite, relieve sprains and cramps in the body, and help in reducing bloating. Being mild laxatives, they can cleanse the digestive tract. Salts also help flush toxins from the body.
When eaten in excess, it can disturb all the doshas. These foods can cause kidney stones, skin diseases, and, you guessed it, hypertension. It also tends to increase body heat, leading to fainting, hair loss, and gastric issues.
On the psychological level, Lavana foods can improve enthusiasm and boost confidence. When had in excess, it can lead to a feeling of greed.
Lavana balances Vata but increases both Kapha and Pitta doshas. So if your body type is in the latter two, you can consider reducing salt in your meals. Natural mineral salt is considered to be far superior to other kinds of salts.
If this seems complicated at first glance, don’t worry. It’s all about taste. You’ll get the hang of it as you start observing the Rasas in your meal and how your body responds for the day. We will be back soon with another article on the three remaining rasas and how you can personalize this wisdom to your body.