A balanced diet is the key to a healthy mind and a strong body. Are you eating healthy?
We are in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic. It is a crisis of colossal magnitude. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China. Now in the Chinese language, Crisis stands for both danger and opportunity.
We all agree that we are staring in the face of impending danger. However, let me tell you how you can use this as an opportunity to uplift yourself from the present situation to a favorable outcome.
I am sure you are taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. We are the most resilient species on this planet. In the past, we have successfully conquered:
15th Century and earlier
· Sweating Sickness
16th – 17th Century
· Yellow Fever
· Yellow Fever
· Epidemic Typhus
· Yellow Fever
· Bubonic Plague
You see the trend here!
There will always be an evolved virus that would assume that its better than us. Kill a lot of us! But in the end, we beat the shit out of it. History repeats itself. This, too, shall pass!
This is just Mother Nature’s way to settle scores. Survival of the fittest, you know!
Have you ever wondered why during such outbreaks, a lot of us die, and few of us are safe?
You can point out these few factors:
· Few are lucky – Absolutely wrong, luck has no role to play.
· Geographical isolation – Ok, makes sense.
· Personal isolation – Ok, this too.
· Access to advanced medication – Partially, but okay
· Better immune system – There you go, this is what I was waiting for!
Absolutely my friend. Bingo! You figured this shit out.
People with compromised immune systems are always the first target of viruses and pathogens. Second, are those with weak immune systems. And, healthy ones like that awesome looking guy/gal whom you secretly adore because of their healthy skin and perfect fit bod are the last ones. Even if healthy individuals get in contact with deadly viruses, their immune system can fight, and their chances of survival are much better than others. Even the HIV virus can be kept in check by practicing a healthy lifestyle.
My blogs are always around the theme of health – be it mental wellness, physical fitness, or attached metrics like discipline, productivity, and efficiency…
Today we are going to discuss how healthy eating is essential for a healthy lifestyle. However, before we begin, I want to share a story with you all.
It is September 2020. Aqsa and Aparichit are incredibly excited to meet each other after nine months. Aparichit met Aqsa in a creative writing workshop somewhere in January.
Whenever you are around people, you can always sense their presence either by their mannerisms, their body language, the way they dress, their speech, or something as rudimentary as the color of their skin and their looks.
Whenever you are around people, you can always sense winning personalities, charismatic individuals, legends, history-makers, average Joes’ and the losers.
Aparachit was in his early twenties, and so was Aqsa. After an hour of learning about the basic elements of writing, every participant was invited to read out their writeups.
Aparichit is perfect in every aspect of his personality. He is attractive, articulate, sensible, caring, and emotionally intelligent. Adding to all of these near-perfect traits is the fact that he is a fabulous storyteller. He had written a remarkable piece, and when he was invited, he confidently narrated his writeup, mesmerizing both the participants and the lecturer.
When you are around people, you know who’s exceptional and who’s regular. When Aqsa stood up and began to narrate her writeup, there was total silence in the room. As cliche as this might sound, Aparichit’s heart did skip a few beats.
Aqsa was perfect in every manner. Her tiny waistline complimented her broad shoulders. Her long, blonde hair fell just a little above her curvy, toned ass. Her intoxicating fragrance was enough to knock out a bunch of adolescent teenagers. Her writing had a dark, witty sense of humor, adding meaning to her otherwise Perfect Barbie personality.
Well, what do you think happened next?
Smoking Hot Sex!
You wish. No, but yes, they fell in love.
Aqsa belonged from Kashmir, and Aparichit was from Jammu. Everything went as a fairy tale for the next few weeks as both the lovers got to know each other.
Somewhere, at the end of February 2020, Aparichit was called home by his mother as she was a little unwell. She had a small back injury, and it got worse in the winters. She wanted Aparichit to be around to feel some relief seeing her adorable son nearby. Mothers are like that. They want to give us freedom and long to trap us in their misery too. Aparichit left for his hometown.
Few weeks down the line COVID-19 spread rapidly, and both Aqsa and Aparichit, along with million others, were confined in their homes. While the power-hungry governments failed to protect the people and instead focussed their resources to turn the country into a surveillance state, our two love birds longed desperately for each other.
As months passed, Aparichit saw a change in Aqsa’s behavior. She was mostly morbid and always sounded gloomy. She had stacked up a ton of great habits, which helped her maintain a spellbinding personality. Somehow the lockdown had put a stop to her life. She couldn’t visit her gym. The swimming pool was closed. Her dance classes were suspended. She also had to compromise on her diet. There was no Zumba, no Aerobics, and no social contact at all.
Aparichit tried to play the role of a good boyfriend and listened to her complain for hours. He shared a few easy tips around how she could substitute her habits with similar habits while staying inside her home. He asked her to attempt workout at home, eat healthy, read, stay away from social media, especially the toxic accounts, but his advice fell to deaf ears. Aqsa was extremely reluctant to break free from her new found bad habits. Her days began at 10 am and the first thing she did was check her phone. Social Media and News were filled with propaganda shit and she got in a habit of waking up with a negative mindset. Beyond that due to lack of options, she continued eating junk throughout the day and had no impulse control. Aparichit tried to help her see clearly but see didn’t seem to be interested in breaking away her comfort cycle. After few attempts, he gave up. They started speaking less with each passing day.
An incredibly bright dawn follows every dusk. We, as humans, beat the shit out of COVID-19. The failed government, too, was happy as now they had more control than they dreamt of. They could now lock people up just because they posted something as simple as highlighting the failure of the authorities in managing the crisis and the blatant mismanagement of funds. So, in a nutshell, everything was back to normal.
It is September 2020. Aqsa and Aparichit are incredibly excited to meet each other after nine months. After waiting with restless anticipation, Aparichit saw Aqsa enter the funky cafe in CP. This version of Aqsa was not the version Aparichit fell in love with. She was obese. Her appearance was unattractive; she didn’t look like a winner. Even a stranger could sense that she had low self-esteem, and adding to this awful deteriorating flabby human flesh was a distinct smell of the depressed.
What do you think happened next?
Aparichit must have supported her and then brought her back to her winning personality. Yeah!
Well, no. This is not a Disney Movie. This is real life. Aparichit left the cafe and broke up with her over a text. And I am glad he did so.
Aparichit fell in love with a person who is not themselves anymore. Life doesn’t give you second chances. Even if it does, it is because of your commitment and efforts, not because you deserve it or because it is fair. The universe doesn’t operate on the principle of fairness. It works on action and results. If you want something, you put in the effort, and you bring desired results. You fail. You learn. You revise your strategy, and you begin Round 2.
It is alright that Aqsa grew fat. Anyone can. What wasn’t alright was her losing her winning attitude. If she had her confidence intact, maybe it was worth giving her a chance. Maybe Aparichit would have supported her get back to her old groove. But she lost it altogether.
Anyone can win when the circumstances are right. Those who maintain their calm during tough times deserve to win.
Hope this story acted as an eye-opener for all of you who have taken a back seat on your wellness.
Now, we will resume discussing the importance of eating healthy.
What is a healthy diet
A lot many Dietary & Nutritional experts have gone bald trying to figure out the exact definition of a Healthy Diet. Maybe, because of our dynamic lifestyle and such different cultural practices focussing on a variety of different eating habits, there isn’t a concrete definition. I personally believe that anything which makes you strong and your mind calm is healthy for you.
Now, this might sound vague to you. But then the question remains – Don’t you already know what’s healthy for you?
It will come as a shock to me if even a single person among you is unaware of the textbook definition of healthy food. I mean, who doesn’t know that vegetables, fruits, eggs, sprouts, & lean-meat is healthy, and cola, sugar, excessive fat, carbs & processed food is unhealthy.
We were taught this when we were kids. Who wasn’t paying attention? Oh! It’s you, the pot-bellied guy and the overweight woman. Well, what can I say? I want to say, “You fucked up!” but I will be a little tolerant and say, “It is okay. Let’s begin fresh today. It is never too late.” Okay, so now that I have made you feel a little better, let’s focus!
We will begin with the basics.
There is a lot of conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there. The irony is even I am no expert, yet, once you understand that your food is unique to your personality and previous eating habits, you will be able to identify a dietary pattern that works for you and will help you, irrespective of what that Influencer Food Critic tells you.
I am going to make a generalized statement.
“Anything which doesn’t grow on earth and doesn’t have a mother is unhealthy.”
This should be the base of anything you pick to eat.
- Chocolates – Do they grow on trees? Does Snickers have a mother? No! So, you can only eat chocolate, maybe once a month. Ideally, you should never. But honestly, I don’t expect much from you. So let’s stick to one chocolate bar each month.
- Burger & Fries – Oh my God! I can see that drool dripping down from your mouth. Who’s a good boy? You are a good boy! What does a good boy want? The good boy wants burgers and fries and soda. Okay, good boy! But, the question is – Does burger grow on trees? Do chips have mothers? Oh no! Sorry, good boy, you ain’t getting any unhealthy junk food.
- Apple – You want an apple? Make sure you are not dating a doctor. Else he will be away. Eat apples, oranges, papaya, bananas, pineapple, avocado, dragon fruit…….. Did someone ask why? Well, they grow on trees, you dummy! Whatever grows on trees, is healthy.
- Eggs & Meat – Eggs & Meat are excellent sources of protein. You need protein both for your brain and body. Therefore you eat eggs and meat. If you are a vegan, substitute these with lentils and pulses, and similar sources of high protein vegetarian food items.
- Salami – Meat is healthy, but we will ask the same question. Does Salami grow on trees? Does it have a mother? Well, the answer remains no, because its processed food and we don’t eat processed food. Therefore no Salami!
Great, now that we have covered the basics. Let’s get to the expert level. Though your 8-year-old nephew knows all this, yet because you were too busy noticing your recent pubic hair growth when this was being taught to you in the school, and you didn’t pay attention, here we go again.
The fundamentals of healthy eating
There are many extreme diets that you can try. I follow a strict meat and fruit diet due to my unique personal requirements. However, ideally, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to support a healthy body.
Protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function. If you don’t want to consume animal products, use plant-based sources of protein each day.
Fat. Not all fat is the same. Bad fats can ruin your health and increase the risk of certain diseases while good fats protect your brain and heart. Add Omega-3 fats into your diet. Indian Ghee is known to give excellent results.
Fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) promote a healthy gut and heart. Eat sprouts every day.
Calcium. Lack of calcium can add to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Eat a diet rich in magnesium, vitamins D & K and calcium. Vegetables and dairy products are rich sources of calcium.
Carbohydrates are excellent sources of energy. But only if they are coming from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs. Cut back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar to reduce rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline.
Making the switch to a healthy diet
You might be in the habit of eating donuts for breakfast, burgers for lunch, and pizzas for dinner. Switching to a healthy diet could be troublesome and challenging. However, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to change everything all at once. It doesn’t work.
A better approach will be making small changes every day. I can suggest you a four-week plan.
Week 1 – Eat everything and document every meal. Take a diary and make notes about what you ate in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This practice is called food journaling and have helped many compulsive eaters in the past. Do this till Friday and then check what all can you substitute next week.
Week 2 – Begin with your substitutions. Replace unhealthy breakfast with sprouts and fruits. Add protein to your lunch. Make your dinner light and never eat after 8 pm.
Week 3 – You will sense a positive change, and you will be able to identify what more you can get rid from your plate. Reduce every processed item.
Week 4 – By now, you will have everything figured out. You will see the patterns like Neo saw in the Matrix. You will be able to identify all that was wrong in your plate, and now you are all set to start your healthy eating frenzy. Do not stop food Journaling. It will make sure, you do not fall back to your old patterns of behaviors.
Now I understand that all of this sounds easy. But at the same time, a lot many of you have already started making faces because deep down inside, you know how difficult it is. And, trust me when I say this, I do realize it’s extremely difficult.
We all are wired in a specific manner, wherein we follow a set of habits, and breaking those habits is challenging. If you are someone who is in the habit of eating donuts and ice cream when you feel sad, making yourself understand that it is unhealthy for you in that moment of weakness when you feel like shit, is next to impossible.
I have been there. For countless days, I survived on sugar and processed food because they made me feel good about myself in those moments of despair. A little sugar helped me get some dopamine and avoid suicidal thoughts. If a chocolate bar is helping me avoid jumping from a 12 storey building in Gurgaon, I will eat that chocolate bar, even if that kills me in the longer run.
Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow.”
I was only able to change my unhealthy eating habits when I realized that I am in my thirties, and there is no going back. If I don’t straighten my act, I will be a bald, weak, old guy in my 40’s. I wanted a better life, and it made me embrace a healthy lifestyle.
You, too, will need to find your why!
It could be as simple as finding a suitable partner or as complicated as building a million-dollar business. Remember, you are what you consume!
Have you found your why?