New Delhi: According to the ancient Indian philosophy of Yoga, the ‘Annamaya kosha’ (our physical body) and ‘Mana’ (our mind) is a direct reflection of the ‘Anna’ (food) we eat. Fascinating studies agree with this ancient philosophy and are now telling us that our diet habits – what we eat, how we eat and at what time – affect our body, weight and brain, deciding not only how we look but also how well we can take decisions, execute plans, basically our cognitive performance.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”, says Walt Disney, and so I shall straight away list out a 5-point ‘Eat Right Action Plan’ to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Action Plans for men for healthy weight loss
Wake up to ‘real’ food! “A good beginning makes a good ending”, says an Italian proverb. Starting off your day right is crucial as it will keep you high on energy and light on your feet all day. Most of us love to have our cup of tea/coffee the first thing in the morning, almost like an every day romance: fingers hugging the hot cup of fresh brew close to the lips, taking in each sip with all the aroma and warmth it offers. But sorry to burst your bubble, tea/coffee is not the best drink as you wake up.
Tea/coffee, of any variety it may be, has caffeine in it. Studies suggest that caffeine triggers the release of cortisol (also called ‘stress’ hormone). A big bump in cortisol puts your body in a ‘stress’ mode and slows down metabolism, breaks down muscle, hampers fat burning, increases blood pressure, etc. This ‘stress rush’ is part of the reason why we feel ‘awake’ or ‘alert’ after our morning cuppa.
While we sleep, all our body processes slow down. As we wake up, the body systems also need time to wake up and start functioning in its full capacity. In such a situation, it is better to eat ‘real’ food that is easy on it versus something that will further load or stress it out.
Action Plan 1
- Start your day with fresh fruit or dry fruits or a handful of nuts or hot homemade breakfast within half an hour of waking up. Post this meal, you can enjoy your morning cup of tea/coffee.
- Planning meals ahead: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin. Everyone in business knows that planning helps prevent crisis so that you spend less time firefighting and stay ahead of the game.
- Similarly, if you do not want to be caught up in food crisis/accidents (like gorging on a pastry at 6 p.m when you had just decided to eat healthier in the morning), you need to be planning ahead for your meals.
- Eating small, frequent meals every 2-3 hours gives a slow, sustained release of blood sugar which in turn keeps your mind alert and body energetic through the day without feeling the need for stimulants like tea/ coffee/ cigarettes.
Action Plan 2
- Plan for your lunch and evening snack (between 4-6p.m) in advance. For mid-meals, nuts, dry fruits, chana, fruits, yogurt, cheese slice, coconut water, nimbu sherbets are great options.
- Local food, global spirit – Indian men, today are going global like never before. For an undying global spirit, what we must stay true to is eating local. Eating local and seasonal foods is good for your health, supports the local economy and benefits the environment at large. Whereas eating foods from far off places, industrialised and packaged adds inches to your waistline, hampers work productivity and will negatively affect your bottom line.
Action Plan 3
- Replace the cookies/biscuits in meetings with peanuts/cashews, aerated drinks/colas with buttermilk/local sherbets, cakes/pastries with chikki/laddoo/dates, etc.
- Add ghee to your meals: Ever wondered what the traditional business communities (Marwaris/Gujaratis/Parsis/Sindhis) of India eat in common? It’s the ghee. Ghee being rich in omega-3s boosts brain power and improves memory and cognitive function. Its unique SCFA accelerates fat burning, giving you a younger body and sharper mind.
Action Plan 4
- Make sure you have at least 1 tsp of ghee each with breakfast/lunch/dinner.
- Keep a 2 hours gap between dinner and bedtime: Eating a wholesome dinner that is not close to bedtime will allow enough time for digestion to occur, induce sound sleep and reduce the chance of waking up tired, bloated or acidic the next morning. In short, you would be all set to take the busy day head-on!
Action Plan 5
- Choose between dinner options like curd rice, rice and dal/sambhar, khichdi, appam and stew, etc, and have it 2-3 hours before you go to bed.