Meals should be nutritious, but they must be simple. Are we being fooled or exploited in the name of nutrition!
As we rang the door bell at Anushas apartment, I could already smell the wonderful aroma of the curry that she was preparing. She was a great cook and prepared a meal consisting of 5-6 dishes on a daily basis, and when she invited guests, the list was just humongous.
As soon as the kids got comfortable in the play room, starters were served with drinks. Vibhor and I jumped on the food wolfing down the many delicacies that Anusha had prepared. While chatting, I noticed Anusha wasnt really herself that evening. As she shuttled in between drawing room and kitchen, I realized she looked quite pale. Could be some family issue borne out of the professional challenges Aman had been facing lately in his office; Anusha had told me about it. After the dinner completed and Vibhor and Aman moved to the balcony to talk about work, I ensconced her for a chat while wrapping up the table. What happened, you didnt touch the food this evening, all well?- I enquired. I feel very tired and every time we have guests I become so overwhelmed that Im just not able to eat!! - Anusha explained. Thats an awe-full thing to do to yourself, why did you make so many dishes then, oh Anusha, you shouldnt have!! - I was already feeling quite guilty about it.
The ensuing discussion was quite long. Anushas primary bane was that the daily pressure of serving healthy meals was overpowering her every time she entered the kitchen. And when they had guests coming in, the customary requisite of serving healthy food along with a good spread of dishes was too much for her to handle. She felt that this combination of a healthy spread was something she didnt want to compromise on, which is what led her to spend extended hours in the kitchen eventually leaving her exhausted and leaving no appetite for food altogether.
That night I tossed and turned in bed more out of anger than pity for my dear friend. All I wanted was for her to understand that all the efforts that she was taking werent really required. I felt we were being bogged down by health magazines, news articles, studies published in journals and heavy dose of dos and donts circulating on social media highlighting the importance of nutrition. The fear of lack of nutrition keeps us on the toes morning, noon and night. Ignoring their personal health, most of the women are planning the next days meals as soon as they touch the bed at night. This has become a practice which is consistently robbing the real/wholesome nutrition from our food - THE SIMPLICITY OF MEALTIME!!
Theres no denying that meals should be nutritious, but they should also be very simple at heart. Healthy doesnt necessarily mean elaborate meals. The kind of energy that we carry while cooking gets passed down to the family through food. If were going through bouts of anxiety, stress or fatigue, even they would get passed on to the host. Conversely, consuming food in a stressful environment would also take it longer to get digested.
Nourishment is absorbed by the body when we consume it at the right time and when the body needs it the most. There are many more aspects to the food than just the number of nutrients we place on the plate; in fact, food is much more than the sum total of nutrients present in it. Food should be eaten keeping in mind the demographics of the land along with the climate and soil that the land of the region provides, just like sweetness in Gujarati food entered because traditionally the terrain had been so harsh that all business travelers were offered gur (jaggery) and water by hosts as water provided relief from scorching heat and jaggery the instant energy boost that they wouldve needed after a long journey. All in all, nowadays everything is available almost everywhere, throughout the year; but our bodies ultimately are genetically programmed to absorb best what the environment of the region would permit.
One of the most ignored nutrition that we need for our bodies to perform best is peace of mind. The time spent while having meals should be of calm keeping cell phones away, the TV switched off and mostly focusing on the food. A small prayer before meals can help us calm our thoughts quite well.
We need to understand that women are the backbone that holds the family together. Its utmost important for us to take care of ourselves not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. A mother is a role model for young children - I remember my daughter once caught me in the middle of a dinner party and asked - How come youre having coke when its not healthy? I realized that they see us as the epitome of truth in this world and when we cut corners on the self-care that we need, we are setting up a wrong example for them. Taking time for ourselves is not selfish, its vital.
Usually, people with a slim structure feel that they can skip all the fitness fuss and just take it easy on themselves. Fitness doesnt necessarily mean a slim physique. We all need to work out: whether we are slim or fat, thats irrelevant. Building stamina is really important; in the 40s, our body starts to suddenly wither away. Also, we need to build up our energy levels in order to perform our day to day tasks happily. I remember Vibhor and I went on a small trek in Kasauli before we had our first daughter. As I was gasping all the way to the top, I overheard a gentleman citing me as an example to his wife - We need to get this fit. but as they inched closer to me, the man was shocked - How come you being so slim, are gasping for air? It was quite embarrassing to say the least, but I have come a long way since.
Some significant changes that I made in my routine over the last couple of years (might be useful for the readers!):
Before getting up from the bed, breathE and slowly get up sideways
Drink 1-2 glasses of lukewarm water in the morning - can start small, say half a glass and then increase the quantity slowly.
Post finishing the morning chores - proceed for some stretching and workout.
Include small prayers before meals
Have simple meals with an approach of gratitude
Get routine medical checkups done
Take pauses at work throughout the day, take deep breaths and try to reset body and mind
. Pursue a hobby
And last but not the least, meditate before going to bed.
Coming back to Anusha, I was finally able to make her see some of my points of view and now shes experimenting and trying to find a balance between her lofty culinary standards and the desire to take good care of herself.
Indian women are expected to put their personal health at the end of their priority list. However no one can drink from an empty chalice; we need to fill up our own stores in order to serve others.
So, ladies relax and take it easy on the kitchen!
Some basic healthy food we have included in our diet which has saved a lot of time in our kitchen:
Eggs/ avocado / milk
cereal / multi grain bread
banana / yogurt
dry fruits and seeds mix
mixed vegetables rice/ daliya along with curds
Daal-roti-sabzi-rice and curds (try frying with heeng and jeera to save all the fuss; simple food can also taste wonderful)
Salads / soups
Also we have started utilizing the power of sunlight to strengthen our immune system by being more outdoorsy. Exposure tosunlightis thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
Keeping our lives positive and relationships stress free can bring a boom in our immunity system. Learning new things as and when we get some time, trying to nourish happiness around and keeping a self focused viewpoint can save us a lot of mental and emotional stress.
By - Parul SaxenaRead the original article here