New Delhi: Have we ever wondered why humans are the only race who take to fad diets outside of our habitual eating patterns?
Every organism in the animal kingdom is attuned to eating as per its habitat and that order is seldom disturbed, except in human beings who are perpetually pursuant of some magical formula so they can get into a certain shape and form. So this urgency of “shapliness” as defined by the norms of beauty on social media needs to be exchanged for long term and sustainable eating habits. For this one needs to delve into the realm of clean, real and healthy eating.
Now let’s elucidate this:
1. Being fit and healthy is not equivalent to being skinny or size zero. The measure of how healthy or fit one is, is actually governed by many many parameters– your energy levels, sleeping patterns, monthly cyclical patterns in women, hormonal health, propensity to auto immune diseases, dependence or addiction etc.
Being healthy and fit is a holistic phenomena which cannot be achieved by a diet alone, let alone a fad diet. This takes a deeper understanding of yourself, awareness of bodily functions and reactivity to stimulus in the form of food or emotions or exertion.
This awareness is developed over a period of time and is not overnight, it can become the driver for good health. Fad diets usually are either rich in one thing or short in another, they are heavily skewed to certain macro types or are specific goal driven. For example keto diet is high on good fats and protein and low on carbohydrates so sends the body into ketosis mode for fat burn for energy instead of carbohydrates combustion. This diet was originally devised and designed to fight epilepsy and related epileptic disorders.
So does it seem normal for a regular person to resort to this diet, with the purpose of quick fat loss or even adapting it as a way of life? Our body at a cellular level is endowed with mitochondria organelle which oxidises carbohydrate to produce ATP (adenosine Triphosphate– our energy currency) for the cell. In keto diet we tend to maintain a low carb infusion. And thus the decreased availability of carbohydrate and increased mitochondrial uncoupling during nutritional ketosis suggest a decline in ATP production, at least until compensatory adaptations occur. It’s a complex process and sounds like something which isn’t the most natural way of working for the human body. In computing parlance it’s like overriding the code.
So one should understand the merits and pitfalls of a fad diet over natural habitat driven eating.
2. Movement and good nutritional practices are the best tools to achieve optimum performance and good health but this needs to be followed with consistency and become a way of life. Good and sustainable eating practices create good micro biome in the gut, which makes for a happy and healthy gut, which in turn is closely and minutely related to majority of brain and body functions and hormonal health.
When the gut and endocrine system are in order, the chances are rare for one to not feel like a super human. Good health results in performance enhancement, alertness, agility, focus, stillness all at once and even enhances your mental faculties to enable one to think clear and better.
This in essence is true good health — the kinds monks speak of. It is said you are what you eat. The cleaner you start eating, the better your internal functions get and the higher your performance and clarity in life. Imagine the amount of time, energy and resources you can save by not visiting the doctors every now and then, by being productive and healthy purely on simple food and living norms, by not spending on diet plans and expert consulting. One should inculcate the understanding and awareness about good eating habits so a lot of gripes in life are wiped off because self-awareness and self-confidence is enough to make you believe in yourself.
3. Achieving good health, good form, good shape and structure takes time. It’s equivalent to chiseling a monolith into shape one blow at a time. The sculptor does it diligently over days and months and years for the finest of statues to emerge. Similarly if someone tells you that a certain kind of form, six packs, eight packs, etc can be achieved in a few days or months, please question the assertion. Find out at what cost? Seek answers akin to buying a policy– ask yourself what’s your monthly EMI or outgoing and what you make in the long term. With fad diets long term prospective health plans are not possible its best to plan and invest diligently. Develop discipline and cultivate healthy habits.
4. Simple habits for good and clean eating which will show results:
* Hydrate a lot– aim for 4-5 litres a day
* Drop sugar intake or make it minimal
* Eat less, eat when hungry. Don’t hoard
* Eating less is different from starving. Eat in proportion to your physical activity and not as per the clock and meal times
* No one ever suffers from eating less. Suffering happens due to eating more or in excess
* Include good fats in your diet– almonds, walnuts, ghee, cheese, butter etc
* Stop using hydrogenated vegetable oil for cooking or even olive oil for high temperature cooking
* Consume food closest to its natural form e.g. whole chicken over sausages, rice over flour/wheat, fruit over juice and so on
* Don’t deprive yourself of anything. Eat in moderation
* Desserts are supposed to be celebratory. Keep them so– occasions and festivals
* Wake up and drink water to start your day
* Avoid processed and packaged food
* Food is by nature perishable so anything packaged with a higher shelf life has to have chemicals and can’t be natural. Avoid
* But local over tetra packs
* Eat fresh and seasonal
* Don’t combine fat and carbohydrates– it causes ill health. For example French fries is a combination of frying and carbohydrates in the form of potatoes; cakes– combination of flour (processed carbohydrates) and fat and sugar. All these can be avoided to large extent in daily living
There is no substitute for hard work so drop the quest for short cuts and start working hard.