A majority of people are health-conscious nowadays. But leading a fit, healthy life is not always easy without guidance. The sheer amount of health information out there can be overwhelming and it could easily confuse or discourage you. Don’t we all wish we could get some expert suggestions and advice on how to build a holistic, nutritious lifestyle?
So here is a curated list of 20 tips approved by some of the best dieticians in India to put you on the path to good health. These tips are hassle-free, easy to follow and cover everything from weight loss to healthy eating, to what kind of food should be on your plate.
1. Don’t skip your meals to lose weight.
With increasing pressure on body image, you might be tempted to skip breakfast or dinner to quickly shed a few more calories. Or maybe you miss meals because of your hectic lifestyle. But nutritionists and health experts keep advising against crash dieting or starving yourself. Eat small, nourishing meals at regular intervals through the day.
2. Eat fresh, local produce and use family or traditional recipes.
Locally-grown, fresh food has more health benefits than you know. We often tend to neglect or pass over our own fruits, vegetables, and other food products in favor of more exotic ingredients. But, there is ancient wisdom in our own cuisines. Dr. Dharini Krishnan recommends using local produce coupled with your family recipes and traditional ways of cooking.
3. Find out what works for you. There is no ‘ideal’ diet formula.
Celebrity dietitian, Rijuta Diwekar says that there is no single diet plan that can fit everyone perfectly. What may have miraculous effects on your friend, may not help you at all. You should eat according to your body type, your medical issues, and your nutrition requirements.
4. Combine your diet with discipline and exercise.
Simply depending on your diet to lose weight or make you healthy is a mistake. Fitness also depends on regular exercise and discipline. If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle otherwise, diet charts will not help.
5. Control your portions.
According to Ishi Khosla, “Not having big meals at night is a perfect way to cut calories. Towards the end of the day, your metabolism slows down, so stick to small portions and light foods.”
6. Fruits and vegetables are your best friends.
The necessity of eating your greens cannot be overstressed. In spite of living in a country with a mind-boggling variety of fruits and vegetables, our intake is quite low. Incorporate them into your meals and instead of fried, sugary or processed snacks eat fruits or a salad.
7. Eat something healthy before and after your workout.
Eating the right food before your workout will energize you. Have a breakfast of whole wheat bread, fruits, and vegetables which have healthy carbohydrates. Eat a protein snack like an egg or a protein shake after you exercise to help your muscles recover.
8. Focus on the positives and manage your stress.
Losing or gaining weight and staying healthy is a commitment and you should celebrate small achievements. Kajal Pandya of MediCity points out, “Scientists have discovered that stress could make you gain weight. Relaxation is the key to many health problems, so indulge in daily meditation.”
9. Get sufficient sleep and rest.
Good sleep is highly underrated nowadays. With busy work and school schedules, we often sacrifice sleep. But it is imperative for long-term health. Regular sleep deprivation can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being.
10. Stick to your health plan.
Many people often give up their diet and fitness plans after they have achieved some immediate results. But if you are planning on maintaining good health and staying fit, you have to continue following a healthy regimen. A healthy lifestyle needs regular effort or you will eventually relapse into poor habits.
11. Avoid packaged or processed foods and drinks.
Rijuta Diwekar observes, “Sugar is not the only problem with packaged foods, there’s preservatives, there’s emulsifiers, there’s poor ingredients, replacement of actual food with chemicals that have begun to taste like food.”
12. Drink more water.
This seems like a no-brainer, but many of us don’t drink enough water. Poor hydration can lead to fat deposition as food is not properly metabolized into energy. It helps remove a lot of toxins from our body, helps in digestion and cushions our joints.
13. Choose the right oils.
Use good-quality vegetable oils for cooking. Different oils contain different kinds of fats and behave differently when heated. Before selecting your oils, get to know about them and their benefits and disadvantages. You shouldn’t reach out for the one that is most popular but one that suits your health requirements.
14. Eat seasonal.
Eating seasonal fruits, vegetables and proteins are not only easier on the pocket but healthier too. Fresh food has higher nutritional value and it also supports the body’s natural nutritional needs.
15. Drink less alcohol.
Shikha Sharma says, “I think skipping alcohol is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. Alcohol has empty calories and no nutritional benefit. It also stimulates appetite and interferes with your sleep.”
16. Control your sugar and salt intake.
The consumption of free sugars such as sweetened beverages, sugary snacks and candies should be limited to less than 10% of total energy. Reducing our salt intake to less than 5 gram per day (preferably iodized salt) also keeps hypertension, heart disease, stroke and iodine deficiency at bay. So try to avoid eating salted snacks, sauces and seasoning.
17. Carbs are important.
Carbohydrates don’t make you fat. They are vital for providing us energy through the day. They are also important for the metabolism of fats. Pooja Makhija suggests,” Complex carbs from foods like whole grains, brown rice and lentils should make up at least 60 per cent your daily meals. If you’re not eating enough carbs you will not be able to sustain the weight loss and eat more to make up for the lack of calories”.
18. Don’t use too much of saturated fats.
Eating large amounts of saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. You should reduce the amount of total fat consumption to less than 30% of total energy intake to prevent bad weight gain.
19. Try to move around throughout the day and be active.
Cheenu Prashar recommends climbing stairs, parking some distance away from your destination or moving around your house and doing chores as simple ways to stay active.
20. Experiment with fitness regimes.
“Adopt a variety of fitness regimes, on different days. If you do kickboxing one day, try pilates, walking, swimming and aerobics on other days of the week so you don’t get bored.”, suggests Kiran Sawhney.