3 Things to work on before correcting your diet.
When we think of taking care of our health, the first thing that comes to our mind is to go on a full fledged diet. But is 'diet' the only way to getting healthy?
Think of your health as a puzzle, where diet is just a major part of the puzzle. But the puzzle of health will still be incomplete if you miss on the other small (but important) pieces.
Here are three other things you should focus on before you start correcting your eating habits:
1. Water Intake
Let’s talk about Water first because it literally makes up 60-70% percent of our body.
So how much water are you supposed to drink? Is it 2 litres? Is it 8 glasses? It’s not the same for everyone. Here’s a quick calculation for the amount of fluids required per day for adults:
Simply multiply 35 ml with your body weight. For example, if you weigh 40 kg so, 35 x 40 =1400 ml fluid per day. Aim to achieve at least 70 percent of this requirement through water. Rest of the fluids can be met from diet through curries/soups/milk, etc.
These requirements vary and may increase during summers, physical activity, fevers, sweat rate, etc.
Why is adequate hydration important?
- For improved concentration
- For optimum energy levels
- For proper bowel movements
- For better nutrient absorption
- For reduced risk of urinary infections
- For fewer/no headaches
So, what happens if you get dehydrated? Can you think of few signs of dehydration?
First, one being thirst, then tiredness, confusion, headaches, bad mouth odor, dark or less urine and hunger!! Yes, Hunger is an unnoticed sign of dehydration!!
When the body is dehydrated, sometimes the brain receives mixed signals. It makes you feel you are hungry, even though you might just be thirsty. So, try this from now on wards: whenever you are hungry at odd times of the day, drink a glass of water. Wait for 10-15 minutes, and then if you are still hungry, eat something.
Apart from drinking water to quench your thirst, there's something else that you can have too. There are some foods which have high water content. For example:
A common mistake that we all do to quench our thirst is drink packaged juices/ carbonated drinks/ soda/ energy drinks. Since these drinks are cold, we may feel refreshed at that moment, but most of the carbonated drinks have some caffeine in them which may further worsen the dehydration. So always chose the right fluids when thirsty.
2. Sleeping pattern
Our health is complex. Each aspect affects the other. If you are not getting enough sleep, chances are that it will affect all your daily activities. It can reduce your metabolism and make you feel tired all day long. Also, staying awake late at night can also mess up with your hormonal balance. Have you ever noticed that you feel hungry at night when you are awake? The imbalance in hormones due to sleep deprivation can be one of the reasons. Research studies show that shorter sleep duration or sleep deprivation is associated with low levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin in your body. Leptin is a hormone which decreases your appetite and ghrelin is a hormone which increases appetite or hunger.
How much to sleep and when to sleep:
We require about 7 to 9 hours to function at our best. In fact, toddlers and children need even more than that. But does that mean we can sleep for 7 to 9 hours during the day?
Our body has its own circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain, also known as the sleep and wake cycle. If you are sleep-deprived, the circadian rhythm is disrupted, bringing a change in the hormones leading to increased hunger and sugar cravings. Thus, along with the 'how much to' of sleep, 'when to' sleep is equally important important.
Some ways to correct your sleeping pattern:
- Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol in the evening..
- Devices such as laptops, televisions, and cell phones all emit blue light. Blue light can trick your body into thinking its daytime when it’s really dark outside.Do no use screens/electronics 30 minutes before bed.
- Try not to indulge in activity that increases your heart rate for the 2 hours before going to bed.
- Dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, so that it has enough time to get digested.
- Avoid stress and overthinking before sleeping. Do not stress about not sleeping.
So, let's get the proper amount of sleep each night and face the world with our best foot forward.
3. Physical Activity
Can you eat pav bhaji without pav? or idli without sambhar? or pizza without cheese?
Yes you can, but then it wont be perfect right. That's how it is with health and fitness. You cannot just achieve perfect health with diet alone. It may sound cheesy but physical activity is like the topping on your pizza of health!! Remember that Physical activity and Nutrition together makes 100 percent of Fitness.
The benefits of physical activity are way more than just weight loss.
Regular acitivity helps you to:
Lower blood pressure
Manage your blood glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance
Build muscle mass and strength
Improves mood and reduces depression/stress
Enhances brain functions and boosts your self confidence
Strengthen the bones and immune system
A 'minimum' of 150 minutes of physical activity per week is recommended by WHO. Emphasis on the word 'minimum', because you can and should try to do more than that. It can be in any form of your choice like exercise, strength training, dancing, swimming, jogging, skipping or any sport of your choice.
Even after knowing the benefits of being physically active, we all struggle with committing to it on a regular basis. So here are some ways to ensure that you exercise regularly:
1. Take baby steps. Do not just get up one day and think that you will workout for 1 hour from now on wards. Start with 10-15 minutes, increase it to 20-30 minutes the next week and then gradually up to 1 hour.
2. Create a schedule. Write it down on a paper and stick it somewhere that keeps reminding you. Note down the type of activity you will do and on which day. Writing it down increases the odds of you completing your goals.
3. Take help of any one of the fitness apps/ blogs/ trackers out there. This depends on the type of activity you want to do. For example: if you want to do zumba, follow it using some videos. If you want to do some cardio, use some fitness app and track your activity.
4. This is optional, but very helpful. Find a workout partner. Its human nature to feel lazy on some days and to procrastinate exercising. On these days your workout partner shall motivate you and tell you ‘ get up ya, stop the drama’. This could be your friend, your siblings, etc.
5. Do not make your schedule monotonous. You will soon get bored of it. Include one activity that you enjoy, and one that your body will benefit from. Keep it balanced.
6. Keep your goals realistic and have patience. No workout gives results within one day or week. You will need persistence.
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