Nutritionist Komal Jethmalani tells you simple ways to improve your health this year.
We are still reeling from the effects of COVID-19. And will probably continue to feel its effects for the foreseeable future.
The prolonged lockdown and the ongoing restrictions have turned our lives into complete disarray. Indoor confinement, work from home, restricted activities, curtailed movements and eating more, sometimes out of sheer boredom, has taken its toll.
The fat percentage in our bodies and our weight has soared. Every time you looked at a scale, whoops! It showed a few extra pounds.
Are we going to carry this forward in the New Year? No, of course not.
Your resolution, if you have not already made it, should be to get back into shape. And how does one remain fit in 2021?
Is it just by reducing a few kilos through a combination of starvation and exhaustion? Is fitness only measured by physical endurance? Is the final objective to just avoid body shaming or simply look lean and toned?
Fitness is more than that. And here’s how you can get healthy once again.
Let us look at a holistic approach.
The parameters of fitness must include not only physical fitness but also mental peace and strength. Let us not limit it just to the persona!
Fitness involves starting your day afresh after a good, sound eight-hour sleep.
Disturbed sleep is a main factor in upsetting our circadian rhythm, which can lead to various health issues.
Be active regularly
Being active throughout the day is ideal but there has to be a balance in your physical endurance level and intensity of activity.
For some, a brisk walk of 40 minutes may suffice; for others, an hour of strenuous workout may not give much satisfaction. It depends on each person’s goal.
So fix a scheduled time for an activity, decide what your endurance level is and work towards increasing it gradually.
An exercise regimen can include the following:
Do deep breathing exercises to inflate your lungs and increase their oxygen capacity.
Stretch exercises are important to increase flexibility and balance.
Strengthening exercises are great when it comes to building lean mass but intensity has to be judged.
Having three large meals a day is now outdated. Eating small meals regularly is ideal and the new mantra.
The key point here is that one must watch the portion sizes.
Focus on low carb and low fat foods.
Adequate protein for sustenance is important, so include high protein foods in your diet based on your level of activity.
Make sure that your meals include fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables for increasing metabolism and strengthening your gut.
High fat, sugary and salty foods deserve to be sternly avoided if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Make prudent choices
Don't indulge in fad diets and don’t force-feed yourself based on hearsay or social media advice. Be wise and make the right choices.
All that glitters is not gold. Likewise, all claims about doing certain things to improve your health may not necessarily provide the desired results.
Don’t binge eat.
Refrain from consuming alcohol, fruit juices, soft drinks, fried foods and sweets. Instead, look out for healthy alternatives. For example, if you crave something sweet, curb it by having a fruit or some raisins or a date (khajur). They are rich in fibre and natural sugar, which is good for your body.
Immunity booster super foods
Include the following ‘super foods’ in your daily diet to further boost your immunity.
- Oranges and lemons are rich in Vitamin C.
- Grapes, strawberries and blueberries are filled with anthocyanins and phenols like ellagic acid and resveratrol.
- Chillies like jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers and other chilli peppers are rich in the flavonoid, capsaicin.
- Calorie-dense nuts like walnuts and almonds and seeds like flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are rich in Omega 3.
- Green tea is filled with the antioxidant, catechin eigallocatechin epigallate (EGCG).
- Fish provides the powerful Omega 3 fatty acid and Vitamin D.
- Garlic and ginger have medicinal benefits and antioxidants like allicin and gingerol.
- Turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seeds (saunf) and jeera are other detox agents.
- Green leafy vegetables are amazing for your body.
- Cabbage and cauliflower are rich in anti-oxidants like beta carotene, lutein and quercetin.
- Cereals, millets, legumes and pulses including beans and lentils are rich in B vitamins, protein, fibre and various minerals like calcium, zinc and selenium.
All these provide much needed fibre, proteins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and minerals, which are vital for good health, enhanced immunity and help in detoxification.
Drink lots of water throughout the day to remain well hydrated. This is essential for good blood circulation.
It will also help flush out the toxins and improve your metabolism.
To summarise, build your immunity by following these basic guidelines for good health.
Do not feel disillusioned by looking at other people’s habits and lifestyle. Do what is good and achievable for you.
Indulge occasionally but don't starve and penalise yourself in case you indulge in a cheat meal.
Finally, always sleep with a peaceful mind and a happy heart, plus a thought that you achieved the best you could.
Komal Jethmalani is a dietician with over 25 years of experience in food, nutrition and dietetics, with an MSc in food science and nutrition.
She is a certified diabetes educator and lifestyle coach, specialising in diabetic, cardiovascular, weight loss and various therapeutic diets.
And she will try and help you achieve your dietary and fitness goals through healthy lifestyle changes.
Do share your complete health details including age, weight, height and health issues if any.
Write to email@example.com (Subject: Ask Komal), along with your name. You are most welcome to share your photograph as well.
This column is an advisory. Please do consult your doctor as well.