Eat right, eat well

Eat right, eat well

Enough with the crash diets, protein fixation and body image issues. Anjali Sareen not only busts some popular food myths, but also charts out a healthier, personalised and wholesome path for you to follow.

Aren’t we always looking to find the formula for that magical eating plan that will get us the perfect physique that we so desire?

And, in this pursuit, we put ourselves through an unending range of fad diets and mindless eating plans.

What we overlook along the way is that our eating habits should be a reflection of our lifestyle, health and fitness goals.

They should not just be about starving, depriving, or overdoing any particular food group/s.

Can a generic diet or eating plan taken from the Internet or a magazine be suited for you specifically? Of course not.

So then, why are we constantly searching and hopping from diet to diet, hoping to get the same results as advocated by another’s experience?

To formulate a diet for yourself, you need to examine what your real needs in terms of food and nutrition are, before deciding on your diet or eating plan.

In the process, you should consider the following points:

Do you have any medical concerns that will influence your eating plan?
How do you feel with your current eating habits in terms of energy and strength?
How regular and intense are your workouts?
Are you training for a race or event and have a specific goal in mind?

Likes, dislikes

Yes, it matters. Why? Because if you’re going to force your body to accept eating habits or foods that you are not predisposed to, you are more likely to stop and not see it through on a long-term basis.

That isn’t to say that if you like sweets or fried foods, then your diet should comprise of only those!

Following diets that incorporate drastic changes will be difficult to follow beyond a certain point; bringing you right back to the starting point, probably making you feeling more frustrated and defeated than when you first started out.

The long haul

And that is the key. Your eating plan should be one that allows you to eat consistently towards good health, nutrition and energy, and enable you to do your day-to-day
activities.

If you’ve been getting information off the Internet, you will have a vast array of diets, promising you amazing results (like flat abs and rippled muscles).

Stop for a minute and consider. If all those were so effective, would there be any obese or flabby persons left?

One may argue that someone possibly failed on a specific diet plan because they didn’t follow the it stringently and that doesn’t make the diet itself bad.

But therein lies my point; if the diet is going to be such an effort to follow, you will not be able to do so beyond a short period.

What you are looking for is a plan that can be incorporated into your lifestyle step by step, so that over a period of time, you have been able to adapt your body to a healthier, more nutritious way of eating.

This assures you a much higher chance of successfully making it a part of your lifestyle in the long run.

Eating – why the big fuss?

Let’s look at why we need to eat; besides the obvious for most of us – it makes us feel good.

Simply put, our bodies need fuel from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

We also need essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals in smaller quantities.

The fuss starts with our understanding about what the right mix of carbohydrates,
proteins and fats should be.

There is the much-advocated need for a protein-dominant diet in our eating plans and some extreme versions of such diets have even gained much popularity.

Overly focusing on proteins in our diet to the point of relying on protein shakes and supplements can actually lead to health concerns.

Unless you are a professional-level athlete who trains intensely or you have medical concerns, protein supplementation is unnecessary.

An increasing body of research supports this.

Yes, of course, protein is the building block for the body, especially when doing resistance training; but our diets, with the correct choices, provide enough options, whereby
extra supplementation is not required.

Also given the intensity, method of training and other factors, every individual’s protein requirements vary and cannot be based on generic data.

The focus should be on the type of proteins being consumed; whether they come from meat, vegetables or dairy sources.

For instance, eating a regular diet of meat, eggs and dairy will ensure an overall good source of protein for the body.

To ensure the same with a vegetarian diet, one just needs to consume a correct mix of complementary proteins in the form of legumes, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits.

When changing your eating habits, simplify your focus; this would also help decrease the stress of adapting to your plan.

Instead of overly focusing on constantly counting calories and measuring portions, think about introducing variety through varied food groups into your diet.

Understand the different vegetables and fruits available and how they can help improve your health and energy.

Shifting your focus to eating what’s good and nutritious for the body will automatically help cut out harmful foods.

An important key to your success is moderation; be it in the portions you eat or what you eat.

Having a sweet tooth, but depriving yourself of all sweets is not going to last long. So, go ahead and include some of your favourite foods; keep control through portion sizes and frequency, though.

Limiting your portions drastically or skipping meals is going to start leaving you feeling hungry to a point where you are likely to give in to binge eating patterns, feeling guilty and repeating the cycle.

Our eating habits should not feel like a punishment or obligation that entails severe dieting or depriving oneself of one’s favourite foods or over-supplementing.

Remember, it is important to keep the big picture in mind and take one step at a time, all through your life.

(The author is co-owner and Pilates instructor, The Zone Pilates Studio, Bangalore)

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