Ayurveda the ancient system of holistic care advises how to take care of ourselves on a daily basis. From my experience I realise that many lifestyle or diet choices people make believing that they are healthy, are actually harming them. Here I would like to explain 5 common food myths.
1. You have to eat at regular times
Not really. We have to eat only when we are hungry. Even though all of us know this fact, lately there is a tendency- supported by many articles and advices- to eat 3 meals or 5 small meals at regular times even when you are not hungry. It is true that if our body is healthy and have a good digestion, most of the time we feel hungry at regular intervals. But it can surely vary according to our last meal, the way we spent the day and/ or stress.
Basically, appetite means our body is ready to receive food. So if you are not hungry wait until your body secretes required digestive juices and you feel hungry so that the body can process the food properly. Most of the time accumulation of undigested food is the prime reason for lack of appetite. So pushing more food will actually worsen the situation and can gradually lead to diseases. If you wait until you are hungry (which is actually a short fasting) you will feel much better! Even waiting until you are hungry will not be hard for you.
However if you get only flashes of appetite, it can be because you have a weak digestion and you are not secreting enough digestive juices. Then you feel really tired when you wait until you have a proper appetite and most of the time you wouldn’t get a strong appetite even after waiting for a long time. In those conditions, it is better to eat a small portion of healthy food when you feel the flashes of appetite even though it is weak. Remember, if your appetite is not really strong or stable always seek help, as this is one of the early symptoms of digestive disorder.
2. Salads are always healthy
Again ‘NO’! Salads are healthy, but not always. When your digestion is weak or your gut is gassy, it is easier for the body to process cooked or steamed veggies than raw salads. Poor or loss of appetite, fatigue, bloating, and discomfort in abdomen are some of the symptoms of poor digestion. Even if you have a moderate digestion, salads are not a good option for dinner as naturally our digestion slows down after sun set. Also you need to be careful with some salad dressings when you have any digestive issues.
3. Drink as much as water as you can
No, No! 60% of our body is made up of water, so if you drink a lot of water it can easily result into weight gain, dilute body fluids and weaken digestion. Whenever our body needs something it will ask, so do with water. So we have to drink water only when we are thirsty. Saying that there is a big group of people who don’t drink enough water. Then their body will be accustomed to low dose of water (of course compromising health, believing that you are living in drought). Then you have to look into other signs of dehydration like dry skin, dry mouth, constipation, dark urine, etc. If you are feeling any of these symptoms then you have to drink water even when you are not thirsty. Otherwise drink water only when you are thirsty.
4. Healthy diet means no carbs
This is one of the most prominent myths lately. In West it is against wheat where as in East it is mainly against rice. As we need proteins, vitamins and healthy fat, we need carbohydrates as well. Have you ever wondered how did our ancestors managed to be healthy even after they ate all these grains? I agree that our lifestyle changed drastically lately and our life is not that physical for any more except for a few. Still carbs are not that harmful!
Carbohydrates are sources of energy. So you have to watch the amount of carbs you are taking according to the calories you spend. As most of us don’t burn calories as our ancestors used to do, we don’t need that many carbs. But this doesn’t avoiding all prime sources of carbs like grains and potatoes! Grains like rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, etc make your food wholesome and substantiate and help to fill required part of stomach. Presence of grains helps to improve digestion, feel satiety and nourish body and mind which is important to be healthy. Feeling of satiety is important to be grounded, reduce anxiety and fatigue and manage stress. Also grains contain different amino acids (specific proteins), vitamins and other nutrients which you can’t easily get from other foods.
To have the best results, use three different grains for three meals of the day, and keep the grains at a minimum (half a cup would be ideal for a medium built individual). Use potatoes and other carb rich veggies moderately along with other fibrous veggies. Use whole grains and avoid frying them. Beware of over using yeast along with grains as well (which most of the bread have).
5. No fat!
Thankfully there is a lot of improvement with this myth and we are more and more aware of healthy fat. 10 % of our diet should be fat (remember we don’t have to source that 10% from oils as vegetables, proteins and grains contain varying amount of fat in them). Our brain is mainly made up of fat. Kidney is embedded in fat. Abdominal organs are wrapped in fat, and joints are lubricated by fat. Fat is important for healthy skin, joints, gut, nervous system and mind.
But be aware that overuse of certain type of fat can easily increase the blood fat level, and the risk of cardiac diseases, stroke, etc. So include moderate amount of healthy fat in your diet daily. Healthy choice of fat include nuts, seeds, dairy (except butter), sprinkling or adding vegetable oils and/or ghee to your salads, rice, noodles, pasta, oily fish, etc. But always remember to use these products on moderation and on the other hand avoid fried foods and visible fat of proteins.