You are too busy to bother about what you feed yourself, often rushing to grab a burger, gorging on a pizza and washing these down with a cola. The reasons given for treating our body to junk are many. Health foods? Too expensive. Counting nutrients? Impractical. Organic and natural food? Not always possible.
But a wrong diet is the root cause of all illnesses. The way out? Make small changes in your eating patterns. Don’t make a 360-degree change, go one step at a time. Try to be as natural as possible, gradually include more raw foods and get rid of unhealthy eating patterns. Here are easy-to-adopt plant-based diet practices that can help ward off (and in most cases, reverse) ailments like obesity, diabetes, gastric problems, etc.
Say ‘No’ to animal protein
Don’t pack in protein from animal sources - cheese, milk, meat, butter, eggs etc. Unlike plant-based protein sources, these take more time to digest, making you feel heavy and bloated. To make matters worse, unknowingly there is a tendency to have acidic food to help digest the protein (eg, consuming alcohol with meat). And as is commonly known, one of the bottomlines of a good diet is to avoid acidic food (animal products, sugar, dairy, sugar and colas) and have more alkaline stuff (fruits, vegetables).
Too much acid also leads to long-term thinning of the bones and lower muscle mass. Moreover, meat contains huge amount of animal fat that’s a direct cause of obesity, heart diseases, cholesterol, etc. Moral of the story? If you want to avoid the afore-mentioned diseases, give your body a protein dose with normal greens and fruits.
Dairy can be avoided
Have soya milk or almond milk if you can’t do without your daily glass of milk. Dairy products, especially the ones available after processing these days, do your body no good.
Watch your oil consumption. The best way to consume oil is through nuts and seeds rather than the refined form where all fibre is lost. Think you cannot make your sabji without a generous dollop of ghee? Here’s how you can do it - Add a little salt to soften the onions and fry them in a pan without oil or fat. If you feel it sticks, just sprinkle a little water. Onions will get fried just as well.
Change your cooking style
Healthy, oil-free cooking might take a little longer than usual, but it’s worth the wait. Begin using vegetable broth to cook your sabjis and curries. Can’t do without tasty (oily) temptations like patties, fries or cutlets? Simply coat your patties in fine peanut powder and roast them. It might take a while, but the oil released from the peanuts is enough to cook them. Try it to believe it.
Have whole foods
Eat only whole foods because most of the nutrients and flavour is in the skin and when you peel them, you throw away the nutrients. Ever wondered why you add sauces and masalas to spice up vegetables? It’s because while peeling the skin, you are ridding it of its flavours too. If you learn to cook with whole foods, you won’t feel the need to artificially flavour them with sauces. Similarly, have unpolished rice and brown rice instead of the white one,s and atta instead of maida.
Use water sparingly
Washing vegetables, grains and fruits is well, necessary, but don’t overdo it, else you’ll lose all nutrients. Steam your veggies instead of boiling them. You’ll require less water and retain nutrients too. Also, never wash vegetables after chopping them.
Have fruits separately
Do not combine fruits with a meal. Our bodies digest fruits very quickly as compared to other foods, as fruits are very sugary and therefore ‘ferment’ in your stomach. This is fine normally, but if you eat fruits post a heavy meal, then the fermenting fruit remains in your stomach a lot longer and can cause bloating, gas and discomfort. Also, have fruits instead of juices. The calories are higher in juices and with fruits, you’ll get your fibre too.
Follow the monkey
Nature is the best teacher and among all animals, man’s closest relative monkey leads the way. Ever seen a monkey peel an apple? Not really. But it certainly does so for a banana or an orange. Follow the principle in your diet too! Never peel fruits and vegetables that don’t need peeling.