The simple guide to good health

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The simple guide to good health

Sunday, 25 April 2021 | Sapna Puri & Arpana Mehra

The simple guide to good health

Diets don’t have to be complicated. It is all about right nutrition in the right amount at the right time, write Sapna Puri & Arpana Mehra, as they share tips to staying healthy with proper diet and exercise

With the second big wave of Covid-19 hitting big and swamping the country, the focus on proper food and fitness while staying at home has become even greater. What you eat, eventually revs your metabolism and strengthens your immune system and how you direct your body to move via exercise ensures that you do not accumlate weight due to inactivity and stay fit. While most is common knowledge, we have put together some pointers that will work as a guide to your good health.


Common Food Issues

Most people deal with cravings and food addiction. Its impact on daily life results in yo yo weight gain. If you can reduce your cravings, you can easily solve any obesity-related problems. To deal with cravings, plan meals ahead and keep healthy snacks, like dates, figs, melons, grapes, citrus, berries, raw honey, and smoothies with coconut water, handy. These foods work really well when you feel the need for a sugar fix or caffeine. If you are insulin sensitive, eating cucumber slices or leafy greens along with your fruit (or a green smoothie) will help you avoid the highs or lows.


Weight Loss on your mind

Introduce intermittent fasting and fasted work outs to your routine for good results. Be patient with yourself as the whole process is slow and can take at least four weeks to show results. Narrowing your feeding window is incredible for brain health and weight loss. The meals that you can skip or replace during intermittent fasting are breakfast or dinner. It is best to avoid snacking when fasting other than water. Instead, you can add a squeeze of lemon, have unsweetened coffee (with upto one table spoon of organic cream), unsweetened tea, coconut or MCT oil. Some tips to follow while practicing intermittent fasting are:

  • Don’t cut any foods out of your normal diet.
  • Eat at least seven servings of whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Do one fasted-state work out daily.
  • Eat at least one omega-3 rich food every day.
  • Add one boosting activity each day.


Dopamine foods

The first step while planning your diet should be to add some of the  dopamine-boosting foods. These foods include, fish, lamb, chicken, cheese, almonds, bell peppers, sesame seeds, spinach, sprouts, broccoli, pineapple, papaya, guava, kale, berries, oranges, lentils, kidney beans etc. With these foods you’ll be nourishing your mind as well as adding energy-inducing foods to your intake.

Fibre: The Secret Ingredient

Foods rich in fibre reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fibre is also a key ingredient for losing weight without feeling hungry. Fibre makes you feel full, because it swells in your stomach when it absorbs liquid. Soluble fibre helps the body eliminate fats and lower cholesterol, giving you a steady supply of energy. Some good sources of soluble fiber are Oats, Phyllium husk, and fruits such as kiwi, cherries, and dried figs.


Stress Free Life

Filling our lives with peace also has a direct effect on good health and weight. Lack of peace increases the stress hormone, Cortisol, in the brain, which tells the body to store fat in the belly. Practices such as meditation, yoga, prayer, listening to music or playing with pets, and enjoying your food help bring peace into your life.

When we stay healthy and vibrant, age does not matter. With a healthy lifestyle and positive outlook aging is but a universal phenomenon. Most longevity diets are based on foods eaten in places having the most centenarians. Most diet advice attributes to eating more fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains and consuming less meat, dairy products, processed foods, and sugar. We all know this in principle, but the real challenge comes in application. Let’s make the right choice.

Control your consumption of animal protein. Processed red meats are exceptionally harmful. From the energy point of view, when we substitute animal protein with more plant protein, there isn’t a single amino that can’t be obtained by consuming plant-based protein sources. Amino acids are the building blocks for every protein in the human body but consuming too many animal proteins (as meat contains all nine essential amino acids) doesn’t come without a cost. On the other hand plant proteins contain decent levels of amino acids, enough to keep us going with reduced blood glucose levels, significantly lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancers and increased lifespan.


Fitness Goals

Beginning of the year is usually a good time for setting goals and committing to new things, particularly health and fitness goals, it is never too late. All you need to do is to stick to your goals and choose the ones that you can work on gradually. Simply put: When you fight against your body, it’s going to fight back. Cravings, fatigue, and a scale that won’t budge are all signs of your body rebelling. Your body is your home, your anchor. Start to treat it that way. It’s totally okay to want to change your body. Whether it’s weight loss, getting stronger, gaining weight, you need to include your body in what ever fitness programme you choose. Take sometime to write down one or more goals that are truly for you and only you. For instance, you could pen:

  • Improve my mile run time because running makes me feel strong and powerful.
  • Go to Cross Fit twice a week because I love how I feel after lifting weights.
  • Commit to cooking dinner at home three nights a week because it’s healthier than going out and improves my relationship with food.
  • Lose 15 pounds to get back to my “healthy, happy weight” because I like how I look and feel at that weight.
  • Take five minutes and write out what you need to do today to get to your goal tomorrow. It can be as simple as this:
  • Breakfast: Protein and Carb
  • Lunch: Protein and Vegetables.
  • Dinner: Protein, Carb, Wine.
  • Work out
  • Meditate five minutes.
  • Watch The Office


Benefits of exercising

How much our muscles influence our psychological and brain health is unbelievable. Science shows that when you move your body, your muscles release chemicals known as myokines into your blood stream that improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and make your brain more resilient to stress. We call them “Hope Molecules”. Regular exercise changes your brain over time and maintains brain health. Studies show that after six weeks of activity, we see functional and structural changes in the brain’s reward system that are similar to what you see from the most advance treatments for depression.


Changing Scenario

With everyone avoiding their local gyms due to Covid-19 concerns, it’s only natural that so many new At Home stationary bikes have come up in the market. Interest in cycling has seen a major spike since the start of the pandemic. It is one of the best forms of cardio you can do especially long term. Cycling is non-weight bearing, so it reduces the risk of injuries due to wear and tear on your joints, particularly your knees. On an average, a thirty minutes cycling session can help you burn any where between 200-450 calories, if not more, depending on your weight and speed.



Yoga helps you find peace, no matter how crazy life is. When your stress fest is in full force, sleep and breathing become more difficult, which in turn creates more anxiety. Naturally, we prescribe yoga as the fix. The alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayam) can ease anxiety and calm a busy brain.

Cat/Cow, technically two poses, one is not often done without the other to counter. Its repetitions relieve any abdominal cramping caused by anxiety, making it a great pose to help with PMS cramps too.

Legs up the wall allows your nervous system to chill, reroutes circulation, grounds you, and brings you back to the present.

Headstand increases the circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain, calming the mind. Whether you are out running or in doing reps, it’s shifting your outlook.



A single set of exercise can elicit mood improvement. And what gets you in a better mood than dancing? A study in the Journal of Sports & Exercise Psychology found that highly active people were more optimistic than those who do little to no activity, and they felt much more positive about their physical abilities.

Whether you are looking to shake up your at-home fitness routine or want to try a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout, the African Dance workout founded over two decades ago, has gone viral during the corona virus pandemic and for good reason, because it’s fun too. If you usually avoid dance workouts because you’re worried about keeping in step or don’t think you have much rhythm, African dance’s joyful method will quickly change your mind. Plus, the fact that you’re moving and grooving from the comfort of your own living room means you truly have no reason to fret if you miss a move or have trouble keeping up.

To add icing to the fitness cake, encourage yourself to discover Pilates and experience the amazing mind and body benefits. The workouts use mat-based Pilates, and are designed to build core strength and mobility while improving muscle definition and posture. A strong core is a foundation for a strong body.  


Strength Training

One way to attain the goal to get biologically younger is to make sure that the maximum amount of oxygen your body uses per minute, typically stays stable until age 35 or 40. To really prevent decline in it, the body needs to be pushed close to its peak performance, usually once or twice a week. Add HIIT, sprintervals, fast paced circuits to your regular weekly cardio. One also needs to build strength. The average adult loses 3 to 8 percent of muscle each decade after age thirty. However, studies have shown that women in their 50s and 60s who did a full body strength work out twice a week effectively made their bodies 15 to 20 years younger in one year.

So which ever way you inspire yourself, make sure to eat consciously and exercise regulary. Most important, stay happy and love yourself.

Puri is a Diet Coach and Mehrais a Lifestyle Change Practitioner.Together, they run Calorie Conscious

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