Food, especially in our country, has a force far greater than what most people give it credit for. Food binds beliefs, mind sets, age and gender gaps and even religion like a common denominator and spreads the joy of eating well across various culture palates that may have been traditionally demarcated through geography but fall under one significant emotion; that is India.
In a culture where food plays such an elevated role, it is also important to understand nutritional values of the things we eat. While it is prudent to think and say that everything consumed within reason is not harmful, there are several different plays in the kitchen that one could come up with to ensure that what you love to eat could also be optimised for its nutrition level.
At a time when better immunity is quite simply the key to healthier living, nutrition derived from food is not just a tool to look and feel your best, but an imperative cog in the wheel to maintain an optimum level of health and fitness as well.
What we are about to do today is give you a few simple yet sure shot tips that will help you build and balance meals keeping in mind maximum nutritional levels and standards. Don’t you worry, we are most definitely not going to suggest a crash diet or all the things in your pantry that you would not want to eat. Instead, we are going to try and make this a fun exercise where you could bake your cake and eat it too…if you know what we mean:
Demarcate the Plate
Consider filling at least half your plate with vegetables and even fruit every time you decide to sit for a meal. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are good for your health. These include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. Folic acid may reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Who Grain Gains
Indian diets consume grains in almost every form. We enjoy lentils as a part of our meals and all our breads, chappatis, rotis, phulkas, parathas and the likes are actually made from grain flour. However, almost every nutritional expert worth their salt will ask you to consume as much whole grain as possible. Why? Because whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fibre, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals like iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
Protein is the body mechanic that also supplies energy for our daily functioning. Using the right kind of protein intake is not just important, it is also necessary considering that the body cannot starve of essential nutrients. Lean meat and poultry contain iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Fish and seafood are providers of long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Legumes are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals while nuts store healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
One of the many follies that we do with our fat intake in India is to lather a thick layer of gravies and curries to what could otherwise be lean protein choices. Using heavy gravies and sauces adds unnecessary fat and calories to otherwise what would have been actually healthy choices. Instead of trying to flavour food with high fat content gravies, consider the use of natural condiments such as lemons, sage, fennel, paprika, and mixed herbs to get your palate salivating instead.
Tricking the Sweet Tooth
Everyone loves to finish a meal with a generous and decadent dessert. However, that sweet, sugary treat will do nothing for you in terms of nutrition or good fats. What it will do is get you habituated to sugar and if you’re trying to shed the kilos, it will just put you in an unwanted funk. The solution? Easy. Eat a fruit instead. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories. Fruits are also sources of essential nutrients that are under-consumed, like potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C, and folic acid.
Some of the best ways to try and eat healthier is to try and eat as many meals at home as you can. This helps you control what you are eating and how the food is being prepared. Getting creative in the kitchen and trying out new and healthy recipes is also a great way to ensure optimum nutrition while still enjoying and relishing the food that we eat. We hope this little walk through has been helpful towards setting and accomplishing nutritional goals not just for you but for your loved ones as well!