This was a life changing experience for me. It made me realize the importance of eating healthy.
Last week, I went to visit my maternal uncle in Shantiniketan (India). As I was born and raised in Kolkata and have been working in the USA for the last 10 years, the sheer beauty and serenity of life in Shantiniketan attracted me. I was amazed to see how many people follow a daily routine of morning walks, home cooked meals, time to watch the sunset with friends, and the aarti at the Durga temple. However, the most interesting was the dinner.
My uncle’s family dinner was very special, as everybody would arrive at the dining hall at 8pm on the dot. The menu was comprised of dal, rice, roti, vegetable curry, chicken, egg, bhaja, and sweets. I would always be surprised by the wholesomeness of their meals. In the USA, we mostly depend on packaged, ready-to-eat dinners that are devoid of fiber and vitamins. The majority of the time, I eat chicken burgers, french fries, and sandwiches, all of which are high in carbohydrates and trans fats, but lack the essential vitamins, minerals, and fibers needed for a balanced meal. Moreover, we do not maintain a consistant time for eating, it merely becomes a means to survive, whereas in Shantiniketan people both enjoy their food and remain healthy.
My uncle is over 80 years old and still goes for morning walks, does not wear glasses, and can cook all his own food. He told his secret to healthy eating is as follows:
- Eat on time
- Eat according to your ability to digest. Never overeat
- Always enjoy your food. Never eat in hurry. Avoid talking while eating
- Do not drink tea or coffee before having food
- Try to eat lukewarm food. It is has less bacteria and tastes better
- Eat whatever is being served without expressing preferences or dislikes. You may not like to eat bitter gourd, but it has essential oils that can purify our blood
- If you have a fever, make sure to eat at least a little food
- Try to avoid spicy and rich foods as they take more time to digest
- Never go to sleep soon after having food. Instead, eat your food 3 hours before going to bed
- Try to avoid drinking water while eating, as it dilutes the digestive enzymes. Drink water 30 minutes after completing your meal
- 20 minutes after eating, practicing bajrasana is useful.
- Avoid eating citrus fruits and aachar regularly, as they slow down the digestive process
- Always eat light snacks. Many people have a tendency to overeat snacks and cannot finish their meal. This causes irregularity in the digestive system
- Try to maintain a gap of around 6 to 7 hours between meals
- Eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, as they provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which help in maintaining good digestive health
- Avoid eating Bengal gram, black lentil, and saag if you have acid reflux or other gastric issues
- Do not overcook your food, as it kills all the nutrition. Similarly, do not reheat your food again and again. Try to stick to freshly cooked foods.