How to eat and live healthy in a Swiggy-Zomato-Uber Eats world

Shreyal Jain Chennai | Updated on November 16, 2019

Awareness about the need to eat and live healthy has grown   -  Rawpixel Ltd

There are all kinds of diets out there, and that can be confusing; but there are also some basic guidelines that one can follow to lead a health conscious life

“A few years ago, mom told us that everyone at work was talking about it. So, I also gave the GM diet a try. Soon, it made me weak and I was not enjoying it. Over the years, juggling between not eating carbs or eating only fruits and soup, I fainted a few times due to low sugar or low blood pressure,” says Aishwarya Bhosale (name changed), a 24-year-old post-graduate student. The GM diet, also known as the General Motors diet, promises rapid results for those looking to lose body fat rapidly, by having them eat select foods. It was apparently devised by the carmaker to help its employees lose weight.

Heena Parmar, a Chennai-based professional in the event management industry, has tried numerous diets because of her sedentary lifestyle. “I saw a social media influencer posting her food habits, swapping rice with cauliflower rice, whole-wheat chapatis with coconut-flour rotis... A lot of other influencers were doing the same. Without doing much research I just followed her. A few days into the diet, I was ill and unhappy.” The story is pretty much the same with Riya, Shruti and Rohan, all of whom have been wrestling with food and lifestyle changes.

While junk food has proliferated and is just a keypad touch away from one’s doorstep, the same is the case with “healthy food”. The only problem: what exactly should one eat? Awareness about the need to eat and live healthy has grown but there are millions of advisers out there and it is hard to know which one to follow. A simple Google search can get you in touch with the diets of skinny models and actors. Hashtags such as #cleaneating, #detox and #diet will lead you millions of pictures on Instagram. Millions world-over watch lifestyle and diet videos on YouTube — the latest fad is watching various ‘What I eat in a day’ videos. The ample number of diets — veto (vegan keto), paleo, Atkins, vegan, raw food, only-fruit, gluten-free and so on — has created a sumptuous cocktail of myth and confusion.

Health consciousness

According to a study by management consultancy RedSeer, entitled ‘Indian habit of being healthy’, India is home to 90 million Health Conscious Individuals (HCI). And, it says, this figure will touch 130 million by 2020.

The RedSeer report also states that “a large segment of the HCIs consist of people who are highly concerned and aware of fitness needs but only make partial efforts.”

Vicky Sinha, running on the corporate hamster wheel, says eating healthy food is a task. “With everything being delivered at the doorstep, I keep slipping in and out of my diet plans. I think I might now start an intermittent fasting diet; I saw it on Instagram a few days ago,” he says.

These short-term, quick-result diets give instant gratification. But they can also have adverse effects, both mentally and physically. Riya Chauhan, a college student, says she tried the ‘only soup for dinner’ diet method. “It gave me instant results. But once I stopped it, I gained double the weight I lost, in no time.”

Vicky says that his mundane, desk job gives him no time to exercise. That is why he keeps trying the fancy diets. “These diets help me feel a little less guilty of being in an unhealthy life situation,” he says.

‘Boring always wins’


Kannan Raman, Nutritionist and co-founder of Daily9, a lifestyle coaching digital entity, says the most important aspect of living healthy is to sleep well — at least for eight hours; eat well — focussing on quality rather than quantity; and exercise regularly, in that order.

And if one wants to follow a diet, he says, “simple and boring wins every time. Start slow and do not stop.” Kannan has a basic thumbrule for anyone who wants to go on a diet. “Do you see yourself sustaining this for a year? If the answer is no, then maybe this is not for you.” Anyone who wants to go on a diet, he says, should be mentally prepared for change and be ready to sustain that change over the long term.

Dr M Meenakshi Sundaram, a Chennai-based general physician, says jumping on to the crash-diet bandwagon may not necessarily be the best choice for a person. “Dietary restrictions are not required for youngsters,” he says. People who are young and active need foods that will fuel their energy, and that has to come from carbs, he says.

Another myth that is being followed is the ‘no-whites diet’, which he says is not good for health, especially for youngsters. “Salt, sugar and rice are required by the body. The brain needs sugar to function and the body needs some amount of salt. Youngsters should not avoid these completely.”

Eat as your ancestors did

Kannan and Dr Meenakshi both recommend that people stay close to their roots and eat the food from their culture rather than venturing out, in a manner of speaking, to distant places such as the Mediterranean to follow fancy diets alien to them. Any change in the diet should happen gradually, Kannan says. For instance, by adding an extra vegetable in meals, or gradually increasing the portion size of vegetables.

In the end, says Aishwarya Bhosale, who tried the GM diet: “It is best to consult an expert and get a tailor-made diet, to avoid repercussions.”

Published on November 14, 2019

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