We Asians relate food to almost every occasion. Be it any occasion- happy times or sad, food plays an important role in our lives.
Birthdays remind us of cakes, weddings of a large buffet spread of delicious food and desserts and festivals of all the goodies. India is such a vast country with so many cultures and religions that we celebrate one festival almost every other week. Secondly, we Indians are highly social people and we have loads of relatives who visit us or we visit them, we also have a lot of business meetings taking place over food.
Given this background how does one stay fit? People are constantly making excuses to not exercise or eat healthy. The list is never ending and neither are the excuses to not stay fit.
Why do we make such excuses? The biggest reason being the perception that most have about dieting. Diet to most Indians means eating just salads, fruits and tasteless food and that they are forbidden from eating their favourite foods or desserts. But, little do we realise that dieting is not all about salads or fruits, instead, it is all about achieving the right balance of all the nutrients required in your diet. You can also have that occasional junk but, we need to maintain a right balance between junk and wholesome food.
An average Indian also lacks basic knowledge of foods and is easily fooled by the junk market and not to forget some less aware doctors, dieticians, newspaper articles add more to the confusion. In such a scenario what does one do?
If you ask me I would say anything in excess is bad. You eat too much of salads and raw foods you will end up with a bloated stomach. Therefore the best way to lead a healthy life is to maintain a good balance of the healthy and the not so healthy.
Not all our traditional food is bad. In fact, we have such a unique cooking culture that every region has different cooking styles and this is something that is influenced by the climate, soil fertility and the crops grown and yes, that is what is healthy!
The olive oil that travels from Italy or middle-east is not the trend we should follow, we should stick to our local grown peanut oil (Gujarat/Maharashtra), Sesame (Til) oil (Punjab), Coconut oil (south). So why are we fat and not fit compared to our grandparents and ancestors, despite having so much access to all the information about health and nutrition?
We eat the non-traditional foods such as burgers, pizzas, pasta etc too often and our grandparents traditionally stayed in joint families and worked in farms all day, the food was limited and physical exercise in the form of working on the farm was very high. We have now come down to nuclear families and abundance of food. To cut it short, we need to eat local wherever on the globe we are, because local food is customised to suit local people for better health.
Some tips to eat healthy when eating on many above illustrated occasions:
- Eat the traditionally fried, baked or sweet foods but in controlled portions
- Drink more water, at least 3 litres every day, if you stay outside in the sun a lot then you definitely need more water intake.
- Make the traditional delicacies at home so you know there is no adulteration in the ingredients.
- On festive occasions like Holi, Eid, Lori relish the milk based sweet drinks (Thandai and Shirkurma, Lassi) all of which contain really healthy spices and nuts.
- Do not force anybody to eat more, change the trend by avoiding fried food and offering healthy sweets. Also, if someone says they are on a diet, help them follow it and don’t push food down their throat.
- If possible take tasters of food and appreciate healthy food. However, never mention you are on a diet, trust me you will be the biggest target at the party to eat.
- If the food is heavy, avoid the dessert. But, if you have a major sweet tooth, eat a smaller main course to accommodate the sweet.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to 1-2. Banning soda is the best thing you can do for your body.