It’s Friday! Time for a post! Rather, time to press the post button that I’ve been waiting for and this time, I’ve given it a longer thought than ever before. The topic I want to write about today, can be and has been controversial for me personally. And I may be touching some nerves. And hence the disclaimer.
Disclaimer: I’m not here to advertise diets, exercises, progress reports. I am not an academic with any sort of medical knowledge. And these are just my bunch of thoughts based on experiences and partial frustration on the topic.
Am I the only one or have you too off late heard the term ‘calories’ way more than earlier? Everyone around seems to be worried about this monster work ‘calories’. Unless advised by a professional doctor to reduce the intake or any other health problem can could lead to further problems, I wasn’t accustomed to hearing about this a few years ago.
Let’s roll back a little. As a kid, I remember eating at home mostly. Enjoyed the yummy ice cream on a sunny day. And also the fried pakodas (fried snack) on a rainy day. Apart from normal home cooked food by mumma, maybe visiting a restaurant during weekend or attending a party, it was all pretty normal. When I requested mumma for some instant noodles, I knew I would be getting them but only once a week maximum, since she explained they weren’t the healthiest things to be eaten. Made sense. But I still ate them once a while, enjoyed every bit of it and continued with normal routine. This included normal routine of eating at least thrice a day at the right times, and apart from studies, the playing time every evening, outside the house. No, I didn’t have a mobile phone and wasn’t allowed to play video games unless it was summer vacation every year. Best times ever!
Of course before some of you tell me about metabolism and different life then, yes. That’s obviously counted. Our metabolism is different and gets slower as we grow older. Agreed. Moving on.
As we grew, we had more access into the world of internet. Google uncle helped us understand things better. Gave us the feeling as if a small scar on toe was cancerous within first 10 minutes of research. No, that isn’t funny. We all have googled symptoms of problems we have that make us over think. After all these years, I’ve stopped with this bullshit. If I think I have a problem, I talk to a doctor. Most of the times it turns out, it’s absolutely nothing to worry about!
There are all kinds of food fads over the years. There’s always something trending that year. And last 5 years, terms like gluten-free, only fat, detox diet, keto, low carb/no-carb, paleo, intermittent fasting, only salads, good fats and what not has come and (partially) gone (at least the whole boom about it). Personally, every time I hear about something, yes I do read about it. I have tried to understand the need of sudden changes in our normally running lives. And each time after any such fad comes in, there are always successful and unsuccessful cases that we can see. And then the ‘need‘ part of it is very clear to me. It isn’t. It’s a trend that we would like to be a part of. That’s all.
Like mentioned right at the start, until and unless specifically told about a doctor to change the intake, why the change?
I am no expert but I understand this – Our body needs everything, in the right proportions. It’s a very simple logic. When one keeps drinking only milk and nothing else, that would do more harm than good. Where are the other sources? An excess of anything, no matter how healthy it is, is not so good.
I was told by my father as a child when we had discussion about weight gain and loss. He told me, ‘If you eat more than you burn, you will put on. And if you burn more than you eat, you will reduce.‘ Of course, I was too little to understand more factors behind this at the time, and it’s possible he was teaching me mathematics. But the point being, it does come down to this. Doesn’t it?
If I have a desk job and I am sitting all day, then the same things I ate as a kid wouldn’t be burnt at the same rate as eating them. And hence the beer belly/double chin/and feel flobby (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, just a feeling).
Which brings me to my next part – I went through that too. I didn’t realize this until I saw this in myself and felt not particularly good about myself. Last summer when I was out with some friends for a beach vacation and saw how my confidence has dropped, and wasn’t comfortable with myself, that was the point when I stopped and thought about this.
I started with some of these so-called fads, and tried to play around with my diet and food and ‘lifestyle’. After a couple of months, I saw I could drop a few kilo but it didn’t really help me feel better. I wasn’t active or fit. But I was just focusing on losing the kilo. I started missing food that I love. I started feeling guilty about what I ate. This does come in when you sit on a table where the conversation is about how many grams of fat is in what and which carb is evil for you. How can you enjoy your meal if you have such thoughts while eating? Whatever happened to talking about a movie on the table while eating?
I was cycling and hiking at every chance I got, I walked everyday quite a bit and was overall active, but yet, felt absolutely unfit. Why? What was making me so unhappy and unfit?
As a result, these fads didn’t work for me personally and made me miserable to add-on to its ‘benefits’. So I decided to let them be for whomever it works and decided to never go back to something that is suggested by any other non-medical professional, or the dark world of internet.
Luckily, I had a complete check up around the corner. The mandatory check up before a business trip and I could get a complete report on everything that’s going on in my body.
After all the check ups, I wanted to know from the doctor what she thought. She told, more or less everything is within range and normal. ‘Your fat is higher than I thought and is there something you want to know.’ Yes, of course I had a ton of questions. And the most basic ones too, what should I eat? And what should I do to reduce this fat and get fitter?
Answer was back to where it all started. She simply said, ‘I assume you cook some normal food at home from time to time?‘ I said, ‘Yes but I’m trying to keep away from certain things like white rice and don’t eat carbs in evening. This doesn’t make me happy but I’ve heard its good for body.’ To which she replied, ‘I’ve been to India and not just love the food like typical naan or something. What I particularly love is the simply home food that majority eats. The grains with rice, and veggies or chicken with roti (Indian bread). These are not only healthy but also complete.‘
A balanced diet – this is what she told. Something that we learn in the school. And the simple definition is having the right amount of food from each food group. Why are we complicating such a simple and nice concept?
She also clarified that our bodies are used to digesting the food we have mostly grown up with more easily than the other. Each one who eats their food which is balanced (irrespective of the cuisine), shouldn’t over think about this. And since it’s going to be half a decade in Germany, German food is now a part of the system. So I shouldn’t hesitate on eating things or trying things.
As per her there is no difference or rather she wouldn’t suggest anyone to eat brown rice or basmati or big rice or small rice. She explained the fact that anything in right amount, with right balance of things on plate shouldn’t be a problem. It all came down to basics and reminded me what my father told me over 2 decades ago and some things just don’t change.
Of course my question about eating outside and not ruining my social life was also cleared. We don’t go out every single day. And we don’t eat pizza or french fries every day either (most of us). So every once in a while eating whatever we ‘feel’ like is not a bad thing at all. I love chocolate cake and if I am unable to eat that piece when I feel like it (which happens lesser than I expected), why would I want to go on a guilt trip or eat with my eyes, when I can relish it and move on with my life?
One new thing that I was educated about that day was weight training. She told me you can do all the cardio but if you want to make some muscles, do some weight training regularly and be patient. As simple as it sounds, sometimes you need to be educated right about certain things before they become a part of your life. So that got added to my life partly and other things came back to normal. The cycle to work and back, walking everyday for at least half hour, trying to do some yoga and some weight training whenever I find some time and most importantly, enjoying my food the way it is.
This post is particularly for each of you who think that they need to do certain things or eat in a certain way because of people around or internet. Each one is special and you are the only one who can truly listen to your body. Feel good about yourself and make the little changes as needed and felt. Talk to a professional if you’re unclear. But most of all, be normal. Don’t ruin your mind with overload of calories thoughts, or anything else.
Since food is a very important part in most of our lives, especially who are really foodies, don’t be miserable because of this. Everything in limit, and right amounts is perfectly okay. That doesn’t mean weigh every 2 grams of extra rice while cooking and remove it. You’ll get a hang of how much your body really needs and what it really needs once you start listening to your body. Don’t get carried away or feel low when you see before and after photos on a social platform. You or I don’t know their journey behind the photos and each one has their own story.
If you want to make a change, then understand how many calories does your body really need for functioning normally, understand how much that amounts to, add in some workouts and keep a record of it. This will help you understand yourself better, and changes will take place gradually and for long-term. This is just what worked for me.
And again, these are just my 2 cents on the topic, and for any further decisions, ask someone qualified about it.
Keep smiling and stay strong because Life is Beautiful 🙂
P.S. Please feel free to comment below and share your stories too. And please share this post to reach people who might be helped with another perspective.
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