Most of the city dwellers across the world are health conscious.
In India alone, we have 9 crore HCIs (health conscious individuals). They want to be healthy it does not mean they are all healthy.
We are becoming health conscious because we see disease around us.
If you are one of those and are already doing something about your health then be happy and see if you can add more healthy habits from what I have shared in this post.
If you are not paying attention to your health then use the ideas here to start.
Life is a gift and the body is a superb machine that helps us sail through life. So it makes sense that we make an effort to keep it in the best shape possible. To do that we need to understand the elements that affect its well being.
Our food, environment, thoughts, work and our attitude towards life play a big role when it comes to being healthy.
Food is probably the most important of all these. More than we think it is. So, let us see how we can use to be healthy.
Food: What To Eat, How To Eat etc
What you eat becomes your mind.
So food and mind are no different.
“The Subtle Energy Of Your Food Becomes Your Mind.” The Upanishads
Take a look at the current state of what you eat, how you eat and where you eat. It all matters.
The irony is that food is where the most damage is done.
Michael Pollan said it well when he said: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
But we do the opposite. We eat too much and only a fraction of it is made of plants.
To top it all, we eat mostly out of packets. Even when making food at home, one or more ingredients come out of the packet.
Many of us understand this, but we are not able to follow it. We overstuff. Often times people blame lack of time and irregular schedules for this.
Understanding what to eat is the starting point of a healthy body.
What To Eat
Avoid Processed Food. If you can’t avoid, limit it.
Processed food is not natural. When we eat this kind of food our thinking gets muddled. Eating such food results in and a wandering mind, which affects our well being.
Even when we are able to assimilate this kind of food in our bodies, it puts extra pressure on our digestive system.
Eat food that is clean and closest to energy source i.e. raw food. Eating 100% raw food is not practical so eat home cooked food.
When we rely on junk food and over processed even though we get calories but we don’t get all the nutrients that is why we are not satiated and crave to eat more.
When we eat foods close to their nature that is the raw or home cooked meal we get all the nutrients and are satiated. Then our cravings reduce.
Cravings are a big reason for overeating.
Easy availability of food also helps because a lot of food is readily available by touching our mobile phone screens. But when our body has all the nutrients it needs, and we are satisfied by eating wholesome foods we will not want to order unhealthy food.
This change will not happen in one day but bit by bit our body and mind will shed old layers and accept the new authentic way of life.
How to Eat
Having food that is natural and healthy, is a start. But it is also important to have your food the right way.
These days we have food while on the go, and even when we eat normal food we eat it fast as if we are having fast food.
In traditional Indian households, people used to wash their face, hands, and feet before sitting down on the floor to eat their food. This may not be practical today but we can still wash our hands and face before sitting down to eat in a chair.
When you do avoid talking on the phone or watching videos. If you can don’t talk while you eat. Savor your food.
When at home try to invest as much time in eating as went into cooking. If this is too much for you, reduce your food intake by 1/4th and increase the time you take to eat by 1/4th.
If you are a fast eater and do not find ways to curb the fast eating habit, start by taking only 2-3 minutes longer than usual while you eat your food. Always sit down to eat. Don’t eat while on move like when you are in a car or when you are walking. Don’t eat while sitting on a couch in front of a screen.
Make Sure Your Digestive Fire Is Burning Bright
When we have strong digestion, toxins and fats are not left behind. Blood is clean and thin and along with it, oxygen flows freely through our body. This is the core of well being.
Ayurveda has a whole lot of guidance on how to do it. I’ll not share it all here, only some pointers.
Eat food that is seasonal and in sync with the weather. Light juicy food with cooling properties in summers and rich food that brings warmth during winters. Avoid dairy and dairy products during rains because the animals who we get our milk from, eat grass that gets dirty due to rains. It alters the quality of milk and is better avoided.
Don’t overeat. Don’t drink a lot of liquids with your food. Instead, make your food liquid by chewing it well. This way you’ll help your digestive system.
Plan most of your eating when the sun is shining bright in the sky. If you live in a cold region and the sun does not always shine bright then eat from 8 to 8, 8 am to 8 pm.
Our inner satisfaction affects our digestion so make being at peace and satisfied with your being your prime goal.
Clean Your Environment And Go Out In Nature
Our environment consists of our home, the bed we sleep in, where we eat food, places we hang out and where we work.
Make sure it airy and free of clutter. Design it so that it aids you in doing what you do.
If you are a city dweller like I am, make time to go out in nature. If not far then your neighborhood park. If you can, then go to far off disconnected places, hills beaches whatever you like.
Being in nature helps you in staying centered. When you are centered you are happy and satisfied which is essential for your well being.
Breathe Through The Body
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, or when you don’t.
Breath is the ultimate life force. It can reach where nothing else reaches. When you breathe deep, oxygen reaches into all parts of your body.
Stress contracts the blood vessels and obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen in the body.
Meditate because it will allow you to relax and expand the contracted vessels, making the blood and oxygen flow easier.
Go for walks whenever you can. It is very good for centering and finding the rhythm.
Emotions and Food
This is a big one.
Often we start a diet to lose weight and it does not work because of how the food affects us on the emotional plane.
We tend to overeat because of some deficiency in life. In can be the lack of nutrients in our body. But that’s not all. We also eat when there is a lack of love or something is missing in life.
In such a situation, we find comfort in food. We use food as a means to feel secure, as a drug. We use it to feel that we have enough.
If you feel secure and fulfilled in other aspects of life, you will not seek security in food.
Can this be fixed? Yes, we can try. Here is how:
Accept And Embrace Reality
We may force ourselves to eat right but we will still crave, we will still see something is missing if we don’t listen to the voice within.
So, listen to the voice within because what we ignore comes back even stronger.
Many of us get creative to get by in the world and learn to hide the pain and put it in a place where it can’t be seen as if it didn’t exist.
We can fake smiles in front of others, and ignore realities of our lives by drowning in Netflix binges, and food. But this will not make the reality of life go away.
Netflix and food are fine as a form of entertainment and relaxation but they should not be the place where we go running away from the realities of life. Instead, we should be comfortable with the realities to the extent we can, and if it is something we cannot change we should accept it.
Let’s not use eating as a fallback, a place to find solace to avoid facing the situation. You may have another fallback, another addiction but the food is the most common.
Food is a coping strategy which is better than crack cocaine but still harmful. It is an accepted form of self-punishment because society does not tell you to stop if you are having extra chocolate, or two extra pieces of cake, or two extra drinks.
But there has to be a better way, the way of acceptance and self-love.
Accept the realities of life. Stop ignoring all that is disturbing, accept it. Then ask for grace and courage to bear the current reality. After you have accepted it, take a deep breath and tell yourself: “I love you, with all your faults, problems and situations.”
Practice Self Love
When you don’t love who you are now, in a way you are telling yourself I am not enough. So you’ll not be happy and keep looking for what is missing and try to find it in an addiction. Then the vicious cycle will continue.
So eat right but also practice self-love.
Don’t look towards others for love. Start by loving yourself. Look at yourself and smile and thank God for the gift you have got. Move your body, dance, sing and accept your existence with open arms.
The magic of love is that you cannot overdo it. When you have too much love within yourself it overflows and then without knowing you share it and it grows. You can’t do the same with food. When you stuff yourself beyond a point it no longer nourishes you, it creates mass and disease.
Find a Happy Place in Life
Maria Benardis, health coach, chef, and author of Cooking and Eating Wisdom for Better Health suggests incorporating agapi into our lives.
“Agapi is a joyous, harmonious state of mind, free of chaos,” says Benardis.
“In Greek culture, cooking is a spiritual experience that’s highly celebrated and respected. Cooking connects us to ourselves, to other people, and to nature.”
“Dance, play music, sing … let your inner child come out once in a while, and don’t take cooking too seriously.”
Stop Keeping A Scorecard
This is a big reason for anxiety in our society.
We start with a clean slate. As we grow we start keeping a wish list driven by our aspirations, our environment, media, and also by what society and family wants us to do.
We work towards ticking items off that wish list, career, relationships, finances, gadgets, big toys, home, net worth, social worth and more. We win at times. We also fail.
This becomes a wild goose chase because we cannot succeed at everything we do. Still, we measure our worth against how many items we are able to tick off the list and stay tied to what the result will be.
What if we just focused on doing our job, not making the same mistakes again, and improving our method and process a small bit at each try.
This will reduce our worries and anxiety a great deal. In turn, we will be able to find a happy space in our life.
How To Balance Work And Technology In Life
Technology is a big part of our lives.
We can continue to revel in ease and efficiency it brings to our lives. But there are some areas that we need to pay attention to so that it does not affect our health.
I have shared some of those below.
Limit Your Screen Time
We interact with most of the tech at work and at home through our mobile phones and laptops, spending an average of 24 hours per week looking at screens. At the turn of the 21st century, this number was 9 hours.
We can do ourselves a lot of good by planning how often and how long our interaction with these devices should be. Start here by having an end time for your interaction with your phones.
Use Dark Mode on Apps
Our eyes go through a lot of unnatural strain due to our screen usage. To save them to some extent use dark mode in your apps wherever you have that option. This will reduce strain on your eyes.
Save Yourself From Radiation
All the devices around us, Wi-Fi, electric equipment, electric grids, and many appliances emanate radiation. It can wreak havoc on our bodies and brain in the long run.
We can’t control what we experience outside our homes but we can create a wired environment at home by getting back to wired phones and wired internet. Switch off your devices at night if you are not ready for a move back to wired still.
Mentally Check Out Of Work Mode
For most of us, work does not stop at work.
That’s why you need to make sure that your brain is not checked in still after you leave work.
You can create a closing ritual for work like making a to-do list for the next day after you finish work for the day.
Find a way to channel your energy into something that’s not ‘work’. Something that engages your whole being like dancing, painting or swimming.
Get Out To Reset Your Body Clock
We work in artificial lights throughout the day. This can disrupt the body clock and sleep patterns.
To avoid this, as soon as you get up in the morning, spend 15-20 minutes out in the sun. If you can’t do this for some reason then let the natural light come in for some time in the morning and sit there.
Putting These Ideas Into Practice
This is an aspirational note.
We don’t need to make a perfect start here. We just need to make a start.
I myself don’t practice all that I have shared above still, but I aspire to and make an attempt to include some of these in my life through my self-growth experiments.
Hope you too will try!