India is experiencing a rapid health transition with a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from chronic disorders – obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other disorders caused as a result of changes in lifestyles. As we are at the threshold of the New Year, let us resolve to change our faulty lifestyle habits so that we can enjoy a healthy and happy year ahead. Here are five resolutions:
Eat sensibly: Diet is the only major determinant of health that is totally under ones control as each one of us has the final say over what we want to and what we don’t want to eat. Hence it is very important to eat sensibly. Here’s what to do.
Make half your intake of cereals whole grains: Unpolished grains such as brown rice, products made of whole wheat flour (atta) and millet flour are healthier as compared to polished grains. In addition to nutrients, whole grains contain dietary fibre and other phytochemicals that have been linked to the reduced risk of obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, type II diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits: Increased consumption of vegetables and fruits has been shown to be associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and some of the functional declines associated with ageing. Each person should eat a medium sized katori of cooked vegetable as well as salad, both at lunch and dinner. Other ways to increase your intake of vegetables include adding raw vegetable slices to sandwiches, wraps, rolls or frankies or making vegetable-based snacks such as kotmir vadi, grilled vegetable cubes on skewers, etc.
Fruits are good sources of natural sugars fructose, sucrose and glucose, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, antioxidants and water all of which are essential for good health. Fruits are best eaten whole rather than juiced as when we extract the juice from fruits we lose valuable fibre. Also we tend to add sugar to sweeten the juice which adds extra calories to the diet. Those with edible peels such as apples, pears and chickoos should be eaten unpeeled after proper washing. Citrus fruits should be eaten along with the white membrane surrounding the segments after peeling the bitter outer rind. Fruits can be eaten as snacks between meals or can be eaten as part of salads with a meal or as desserts after a meal. Try novel recipes using fruit such as dosas with stuffing of grated or stewed apple or pear instead of potato bhaji, sandwiches or chapattis with a stuffing of peanut butter and banana slices or guava vegetable, jambul, raita, etc.
Make sure that every meal includes a low fat protein food. Proteins along with fibre provide satiety to a meal helping to keep hunger pangs at bay thereby preventing unnecessary snacking.
Avoid using margarine and vanaspati in home cooking and minimise consumption of ready-to-eat fast foods, bakery foods and processed foods prepared in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. For good health follow the traditional method of using specific oil for a specific recipe.
Reduce intake of added sugars and salt
Drink adequate amount of water.
Enjoy a variety of foods but in smaller portions.
Increase your physical activity: Whether young or old everyone can improve their health and well being by adopting a more active lifestyle. Various research studies have shown that even small increases in daily activity are beneficial for health. Physical activity does not need to be strenuous, all that needs to be done is to weave physical activity into the daily routine. At work, avoid sitting continuously for too long at the computer or desk. Take breaks, get up, walk around and stretch. Research has shown that long hours of sitting at work increased the risk of obesity and diabetes. Researchers speculate that sitting for long hours may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up. Learn about the types and amounts of activity that are right for you and choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level. Walking is an ideal and generally safe exercise as it does not require any special equipment and can be done at any time and any place. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that walking reduces the chances of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes in different populations.
To be continued. . .
(The writer is a consultant nutritionist with 18 years of experience, practising at Panaji and can be contacted on email@example.com)