If you are interested in short term gains go on a diet, if you are interested in long-term health make a lifestyle change.Here are my five recommendationS.
Build an unrefined rice portfolio
I don’t belong to the no- carb, no -wheat , no -rice school . Nothing goes as well with fabulous Indian curries as a plate of steaming hot rice but it doesn’t have to be super polished refined white rice everyday.
Instead invest in a rice portfolio that is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin B, will lower insulin spikes and is tasty. Ty Kerala rosematta red rice, Goan parboiled rice, Manipuri black rice (so creamy it is great for kheer and risotto) and delicious organic Indrayani brown rice. There are many different varieties of red and brown rice available and you will find your favourites once you experiment. The local Khadi Gramudyog in Mumbai has some wonderful varieties of red rice though I don’t know their names.
You can even try red quinoa as a rice substitute one day of the week. (Indian home cooks have adapted this wonderfully to traditional upma and poha recipes)
Reward yourself with white rice one day of the week. I love the easy to digest creamy Amba More white rice that is available in Maharashtra, or aged Dehradun basmati. This way you develop a lifestyle plan without suffering too much deprivation.
Renegotiate the plastic
So you tick all the boxes as far as health consciousness and carrying you own shopping bag are concerned but what about everyday plastic pitfalls?
Are you carrying that healthy perfectly balanced lunch in a plastic container even if it is food grade plastic? Are you carrying ‘spa’ water infused with organic fruits and herbs in a plastic bottle? Leaving water in the car in a plastic bottle? Storing spices, daals and grain in plastic containers? Storing water in plastic bottles in the fridge? Ordering in and not decanting food into home containers ? Buying fresh cold pressed juice in plastic bottles ? If you said ‘Yes’ to any of the above then take another look at your plastic quotient.
Plastic is convenient and light and its everywhere but you should know that plastic contains Besphinol A which is harmful to health especially women’s health as it can effect hormonal balances. It can leach into food and water from containers. We already know plastic is not biodegradable and can harm the environment. You can’t change everything but you can change kitchen storage containers and water bottles to glass or steel. If only we could convince restaurants, besides pizza chains, to give us food in cardboard containers.
PS I admit I am struggling with this – I seem to have become a plastic hoarder without ever planning to be one.
Sprinkle this ‘chick’ mix everywhere
I flatter myself for inventing this but it is so obvious, that someone somewhere is already doing this. Take equal parts of flax seeds, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds and dry roast very lightly to release their goodies. Store in air tight jars and sprinkle over everything –salads, toast, eggs, pizza, kheer, Chinese style stir fries, over rice and chapattis and anything you can think of. A teaspoon a day will take care of your daily calcium needs.
If you find it difficult to chew seeds just put them in a clean pepper mill and grind over food. Don’t use this mix in cooking and consume very soon after roasting.
Eat a leaf everyday
You know the thing about eating leafy green vegetables but we need to eat them everyday and eat them in large quantities. Spinach and American kale pale before red and green amaranth leaves, mustard greens, fenugreek leaves, potato leaves, arbi leaves, radish leaves, dill, spring onion greens and so on. In Maharashtra, the state I live in there are scores of local greens – some just going by colloquial names for example ‘khatta bhaji’ that are rich sources of iron and vitamin C. Every country has its own indigenous leaves, which are used in making simple stir-fries or ‘saags’. Ethiopian gomen or collard greens, tea leaf salads in Myanmar, morning glory in Thailand, Swiss chard in Europe are just some of the greens that are part of local diets in these countries. Many never feature in restaurants but they are delicious, often just cooked very lightly and served as side dishes at home. Bring diversity and local leaves onto your plate everyday and watch your immunity and iron levels go up. These leaves are disappearing so insist that your local vegetable supplier has them. Don’t overcook them or they will lose their essential goodness. Microgreens are another way of bringing a little excitement to your plate and are delicious in salads and sandwiches.
Brush your teeth three times a day
You probably thought brushing twice a day was enough. But think about how many meals, drinks and snacks go into your mouth between the first time you brush and the last time at night. That’s over twelve waking hours! To my mind most of the decay happens here. Brush first after, not before, breakfast (if you aren’t doing that already you should start) next around four pm and then after dinner. Brush very gently for two minutes and spend thirty seconds on each of the four quadrants of the mouth. Good oral health can prevent cardiac problems and other health issues so start now.