What is food? Food is the predominant driving force that keeps our body going. It revitalizes our body. For all living entities, food is the primary source of energy and nutrients. But for optimal absorption of energy from food, it is essential to eat right at the right time. And a proper balanced diet is the secret mantra to keep our extremely complex systems and senses functioning smoothly.
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Given the rapidly growing number of people opting for unhealthy dietary choices, the need for a balanced diet is becoming increasingly relevant today. While it true that packaged/preserved foods, deep fried fast foods, sugary soft drinks, pizzas, burgers and fries are perhaps tastier and definitely more convenient than mundane and monotonous home cooked food, they don’t make us secrete the feel good hormones which is the primary objective of food consumption.
Food primarily is about nutrition. Regular and long-term consumption of a low quality diet swamped with oily greasy junk foods is the main reason for the dangerous spurt in various non-communicable diseases worldwide, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalance, heart diseases, poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), cancer. A balanced diet taken in right proportion and at the right time significantly reduces the possibilities of getting these diseases.
Sticking to some basic dietary guidelines and restrictions can effectively improve the quality of a regular diet. These include:
Inclusion of more plant based diet
A plant based diet comes with a innumerable benefits. Green leafy vegetables, seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans- all these are fantastic sources of the essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Never skipping breakfast
Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast meddles with our body’s normal functional rhythm in several ways. Our body starves after the long night hours. It stays low in calories and nutrients and replenishing the body’s nutrient requirements is imperative to stay healthy, energetic, active, alert and focused throughout the day.
Opting for a light dinner
Sticking to a light and low-key dinner plan has its own perks. The human body’s metabolism rate plummets after sunset. Food eaten at the wrong time, when metabolism isn’t very supportive, often leads to unwanted fat deposition. Also, a light dinner helps in weight loss.
Avoiding junk food
Junk food can only satisfy our taste buds. But, once its swallowed it only causes harm to our body that we fail to see. Junk food has no boons and only banes. It triggers obesity. It intervenes in the normal functionalities of hormones. It also elevates blood pressure and destroys the body’s digestive system. Saying no to the very alluring junk food items thus is the best option to keep all these distresses at bay.
Avoiding sugar and carbohydrates if diabetic/overweight/obese
Surge in sugar and carbohydrate intake can only worsen the situation for both diabetic patients and those struggling to lose weight. And sugar intake can only hinder the process of weight loss.
Our busy and fast-paced lifestyles often compel us to choose food options that involve less effort and look hassle free. Hectic schedules often drains out all our energy. Sedentary lifestyle makes it difficult to convince the mind to lead an active life. Taking good care of our health is never only about what we get on our plate. Adopting and practising a few good habits diligently can impart long term health benefits. Apart from being very meticulous about the diet, it is also very important to indulge in physical activity and follow standard hygiene rules like washing hands thoroughly before meals.
Given that the junk food industry is now focused on the rural areas as well, it is important that we spread awareness about the need to eat simple, homecooked food at regular times.
(The author is a lifestyle nutritionist and Founder of Foster Bakery (Gurugram, Haryana)