Many of us want to eat a balanced diet and follow a healthy lifestyle. With several diet options to chose from, like Vegan, Keto, Mediterranean, Paleo and so on, it is very easy for us to get lost and eventually end up confused and unable to make a conscious decision. So my goal in this article is to provide few simple tips on eating a balanced meal irrespective of your diet choices.
So whatever your food habits are (assuming they are not extreme like eating a bucket of KFC for breakfast), the following tips if followed consistently would benefit in the long run.
Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor dietician and the tips I am sharing here are the ones that I followed. Your mileage may vary and if you have any health issues, please consult a doctor as opposed to following this article.
Tip #1 - Eat a Meal Containing All 6 Tastes (Rasas as per Ayurveda)
Many if not all of us can relate to these two scenarios. We might feel unsatisfied after eating one type of meal or feel tired or bloated after eating another type of meal. Part of the problem is due to not consuming a balanced meal with all tastes, which would trigger our brain to think that sufficient nutrition was not received.
As per the recommendation by Ayurveda, it is beneficial to include all 6 tastes in every meal. They are as follows:
Sweet: This doesn't mean eating desserts but including foods that have prominent sweet taste, like rice, wheat, cereals, dairy, dates, fruits etc. Since these are natural sugars, they provide primary source of energy.
Sour: Sour foods help with flow of saliva in the mouth which in-turn help with digestion. Some examples are - lemon, fermented food, vinegar, yogurt, tamarind etc.
Salty: Self explanatory. Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, whichever you choose to use.
Pungent: When used in moderation, this helps with digestion and absorption. Foods like hot peppers, ginger, garlic, mustard etc. fall under this category.
Bitter: Bitter foods are known to help the body in detoxification. Some examples are - green leafy vegetables, olives, turmeric etc.
Astringent: The foods in this category help with the waste management system of our body. Foods like okra, green beans, legumes, and fruits like cranberries and pomegranate fall into this category.
Eating a balanced meal not only provides sufficient nutrients to the body but also helps reduce or eliminate random food cravings. We will be sharing some easy recipes to help you with this transition very soon.
Just do a simple test for yourself by comparing how it feels after 2 hours of eating a balanced meal vs eating a heavily processed frozen pizza or plain pasta with tomato sauce.
Tip #2 - Eat Seasonal and Distraction-less
Nowadays, we have the luxury of getting any fruit or vegetable at a food market irrespective of the season. This is kind of a curse, as in we keep eating the same type of food and ignore the ones we don't like. To avoid this problem, consider eating the foods as per their seasonal availability. This ensures that the body gets diverse nutrients and foods generally taste better and more nutritious in their natural growing seasons.
In addition to eating seasonal foods, make sure that you reserve the time for eating to make the experience distraction-less. You might be habituated to watch TV while eating but it is recommended to limit the additional sensory experience our body gets while eating (as per Ayurveda).
Tip #3 - Maintain Consistent Timing and Quantity
Last but not the least, maintain a consistent time-table. It turns out that our body's biological clock works in such a way that based on the time of the day your ability to digest foods varies significantly. One tip that worked out very well for me was to follow mild intermittent fasting. So consider eating only between 10 AM to 6 or 7 PM. Eat satisfactory and balanced food in that time-frame.
When it comes to quantity, eating food that satisfies your tummy and limiting the number of meals you consume in a day (like not having any snack breaks) helps your body process food better. There is no set quantity as everyone's body type is different but just know your body and judge when to stop.
One way to make this transition easier in our busy lives is by considering these tips as a lifestyle choice as opposed to forced habits. After all what good is a 24X7 job and money that comes with it if we don't have a healthy body and mind.
As a side benefit of eating a balanced and satisfactory meal, your cravings for potato chips or other junk food reduces drastically.
Bonus Tip - Start a Veggie Garden
I was surprised and shocked by how drastically our lifestyle changed by just having a simple veggie garden. Not only are we consuming fresh organic produce for the most part but also much tastier vegetables. Food you grow in your backyard tastes much better than mass produced food - don't just take my word for it but give it a try.
Having our own garden helps us eat more seasonal foods as nature intends. In addition to that, we tend to eat more veggies and greens simply because we are growing them and generally don't feel like wasting them. As a side benefit, we kind of reduce our waste footprint on this planet.
Ultimately, every person is unique and what works for one might not work for the other. So mix it up until you feel generally more energetic on a regular basis and stick to those tips. Let us know what worked for you in the comments below for all of us to learn as well.
That's all from me and hope this was helpful to you. Peace !!!