Eat your way to health and happiness
“Oh I want to be healthy … I’ll go vegan… Nah, I think Paleo is better… Maybe I should avoid carbs and follow Atkins diet or is it South Beach diet? Nah….Probably I will stick to my calorie counting? Ugh….But what about Mono-diets, maybe Bread and Butter diet? Or cabbage soup diet? Zone Diet? Macrobiotics? 90/10 Theory?”
OMG!!….what do I do? What’s the best healthy diet and lifestyle plan?? I’M SO CONFUSED!!!
There are several dietary theories out there that are known to work and not work. We all know there are contradictory nutrition concepts about the same food item. Foods that we assume to be healthy and nutritious are now being discovered to be the major cause of many diseases. Myths and facts about diet and lifestyle are interchanging.
All this confusion kept me perplexed and anxious. I was striving to understand each and every argument and challenge all nutrition facts to find a solution to this confusion. My personal health struggle and lifestyle induced stress on one hand, but motivated me to not give up until I find answers to this problem.
I started my journey to understand the body mechanisms by pursuing B.S. and M.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA. My research work on critical disease mechanisms made me curious and I wondered what is the underlying cause of such faulty mechanisms. I started pondering if there is a simple and natural tool that can be used to somehow manipulate our mind and body. One day, randomly sipping over coffee, I felt sudden energy rush and realized that our food and lifestyle can control what happens in our body and somehow by optimizing our lifestyle and food intake we can eliminate or reduce the occurrence of faultiness in our bodies. This made me so excited!!
For the first time I felt, I am looking in the right direction. I became so motivated to find answers and with full passion, I took my first step by enrolling myself in Integrative Nutrition and Holistic Lifestyle Program at Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York. My inquisitiveness even led me to pursue several specializations in Ayurveda, Yoga, Macrobiotics, Kids Nutrition, Exercise and Sports Nutrition, and Functional Medicine. I applied everything I learned in life to myself, my family and community, and analyzed the outcome of each and every theory. Finally, one fine day, it struck me why, what and how we can attain and sustain healthy lifestyle. It is so simple and obvious, yet we get side tracked by these “money-making, so-called quick and easy, better for health” diet programs.
General Rule of Thumb
- Your health starts in your gut
- Unprocessed, Whole, Plant Based Foods with limited (5-10% of your diet) consumption of sugar, salt, meat and dairy = Complete Nutrition + Good Health
- Stress = Root cause of All Diseases and Imbalances (be it environmental, psychological or emotional)
If we want to live a healthy and a happy life, we need to be in tune with ourselves, and rely on wholesome natural foods for proper nourishment resulting in balanced mindset, balanced hormones and healthy gut.
The reason that these specific dietary theories work in specific health conditions such as weight loss, disease prevention etc. is because in all diets we restrict some forms of toxic junk foods that are harming our bodies. Additionally, by following these diet plans or nutrition program, we tune our minds to start paying attention to our body and become cautious about our health.
However, sooner or later, our bodies start feeling deprived of adequate nutrition in these dietary methods and we start craving, feel uneasy, or start showing signs of bad health in the form of digestion issues, mood swings, skin issues or even onset of diseases such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease!
Most of us fail to understand that although we have similarities we are diverse human beings in terms of age, sex, genetic diversity, stress levels, medical conditions etc. So, in some cases, it is possible that we need to be on a specific diet as it is the need of the hour. For example, Keto diet for Epilepsy patients or be Vegan in case of Cystic Acne. However, we forget that we are constantly changing and so are our minds and bodies . In order to stay in balance we need to constantly listen to our bodies and evolve our diet, lifestyle and eating patterns.
But wait! Don’t just agree wtih my philosophy….
Think about it, challenge it, test it and find for yourself if what I am saying is true. As you do your own research, please refer to my findings on 15 of the most prevalent dietary theories – what they are, what is the purpose, why these diet plans work in some cases and not work in others. (Refer to Appendix 1 )
Whenever we start this discussion on nutrition and diet, several people become inquisitive about my thoughts on correct approach, lifestyle habits and day to day challenges. Below is a summary of some commonly asked questions:
What do you do? What’s your recommendation for health and happiness?
I am “Naturatarian” eating natural, whole, minimally processed plant-based foods with limited consumption of dairy and meat products (twice a week). I opt for alkaline food items such as lemon, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. and maintain eating pattern that favors alkaline conditions. My caffeine consumption is restricted to once a day and I am working on further reducing it ;). Most of my protein intake is from plant sources rather than animal ones. Also, inclusion of good natural fats in the body is a must. I swear by coconut oil, seeds and nuts.
Being a foodie, my love for good taste and health has encouraged me to develop creative recipes that ensure my meals have adequate food combinations that enhance overall nutritional value of the meal as well as boost my immunity. I strive to keep my daily water consumption between 2.5-3.0 L.
Complementary to right foods and correct eating pattern, one must follow adequate and appropriate amount of exercise that is specific to individual’s needs and goals. I practice yoga as my inner body workout for sustaining my mind-body balance. I also do a combination of strength and weight training for my outer body workout. Key secret to health is sustaining a happy state of mind. No nutrition, exercise or medicine would work if we are not happy from within.
So it works?
Yes, it does. But each individual is different and so are our nutrition and exercise routine needs. One has to be careful with how much amount of food and type of food is needed based on individual health requirements. I mean I can’t offer legumes to someone who develops acidity and is unable to digest it. I can’t ask athlete to just do yoga. Everything has to be specific to the individual.
But don’t you ever eat processed foods? I mean no ice-creams, no burgers….Really?
That’s not true. I love my ice creams! I don’t believe in extremities as it results in re-lapse and over indulgence in the long-term, which is not a holistic and healthy way of living. I use a balanced approach where based on client needs, I customize the dietary pattern and include minimal processed foods as required. Also, healthy alternatives that stimulate the same level of satisfaction and are aligned with client’s taste are recommended. I am big on designing creative recipes and love to share with all my clients.
But I need to lose weight quick?
This is the mistake. We are all concerned with quick weight loss. It is the fat loss that truly matters and that comes with diet and lifestyle changes that work for your health. In my consultations, I specifically emphasize on understanding the lifestyle and food likes-dislikes in order to build a long-term eating plan that would result in sustainable weight loss or any other health goal that you may have. Not just eating plan, I work with you to build a fitness plan which is suitable to your body and weight loss goals. I don’t do just ‘avoid this’ plan, but rather together we recognize sustainable eating pattern. Throughout the program, I strive to educate you on specific nutrient requirements, how food helps you achieve fitness beyond weight loss and the thorough grounding in our wellness tradition which is what makes my approach unique.
Hope this information helps!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kriti Chopra is the owner of Rudra Holistic Health Counseling, Nutritionist, Holistic Health Coach, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Yoga Teacher and Fitness Trainer
Facebook page @healthcoachkriti
Instagram @rudraholistichealth #naturatarian #rudra #rudraholisitchealth