THE PRINCIPLES OF EATING RIGHT 1

The physically body, what we can see in the mirror is called ananmaya kosha according to yoga or yogic philosophy. It’s a straight reflection of ‘anna’ or the food we eat and what time we eat it.

To bring about a difference in the way we look in the mirror, we have to change what and when we eat. Endless scrutiny and criticism of this physical body will always lead us to move away from reality. To look leaner, toned and healthy we just have to follow the principles of eating right.

Principle 

Never wake up to tea or coffee.

Instead eat real food within 10 to 15 minutes of walking up.

Real life example: ‘Look, I can do whatever you want me to do, but I can’t give up tea,’ pleaded Elvis. ‘I just can’t. I will die. You know I am in a state of coma every morning, and the only way I get going is through a hot cup of tea. Do you understand?’ Elvis, was getting desperate. ‘Why don’t you wear a white sari and get a halo around your head? Cutting down drinking is fine. But not having tea in the morning is not done ya. I will die. And mine is not the Indian tea which is boiled endlessly with tons of sugar. It’s very light, with one spoon milk. And I am using a sugar substitute but I can give that up too. And I will cut down to half a cup. Look without tea, I can’t even go to the loo. You can’t do this… Do you understand? Say something.’

‘Ok, give me a chance to talk then,’ I said.

‘Ok, talk, and say yes to tea baby. Stop being difficult.’

All that I had suggested was no tea first thing in the morning. It scared the shit out of Elvis. Well, it is a scary proposition for most of us. Tea in the morning has a special meaning in each of our lives. Most of us are ready to do ‘anything that it takes’ to lose weight. But the fact that tea or coffee could be coming in the way of our fat loss doesn’t even cross our mind.

I always think of painting by MF Hussain each time I have the morning cup conversation with a client. It is of a sari-clad lady flying, carrying a hot cup of tea against the backdrop of the snowy peaks of the Himalaya. The painting hung in the study of actress Tanvi Azmi and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It covered almost half her wall and I thought it was beautiful,although I couldn’t understand it. Intrigued (it was also the first Hussain painting that  I was seeing in flesh and blood; all I knew about him was that his paintings cost the earth, and when you see them you can’t make out anything immediately), I asked Tanvi, ‘What is this? Why the cup in the woman’s hand?’ ‘Oh, that is my mother in law,’ said Tanvi smiling.

‘I love this painting. But what does it mean?’

Tanvi explained. ‘My father-in-law and my mother-in-law both lead very busy lives. They may not see much of each other throughout the day but they have a morning ritual. They always have the morning cup of tea together.’

I know that it takes a lot to give up on that morning tea, but it’s worth all the trouble. And the good news is that you don’t have to give up on it totally. You can still enjoy the romance, ‘me time’ or whatever the morning cup means to you. Just make sure that you eat something before that. Why such a fuss? Let me explain.

When you sleep, you blood sugar levels drop in the night. In the morning our liver stores are almost empty. So our blood sugar is low and it’s our responsibility to bring this up to an optimum level. Low blood sugar is also a reason why we feel ‘low’ in the morning. The body sometime takes to wasting or breaking our muscle down to keep our sugar from dropping to abnormally low levels. Not a very good thing if you want to lose weight. To be able to burn fat effectively, you have to train your body to preserve lean tissue; not waste it by breaking it down into glucose to keep you blood sugar up. What happens in the night is out of out control because we are sleeping, but when we wake up everything is in our control. So, to keep our body’s fat burning tissue alive – we must eat. Eat real food. Something that will lead to a slow, steady increase in our blood sugar levels. This kicks in the action of insulin, which is secreted by the body as a response to an increase in blood sugar levels, which facilitates our hungry cells to get the nutrients that it is craving for.

Tea or coffee doesn’t fit the bill for many reasons. Any stimulant like tea or coffee jolt the system out of slumber. It increases the blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and makes the body feel stressed or ‘kicked’. Sadly we mistake this for feeling awake. In reality, the body experiences stress because of the increase in its heart and breathing rate and will respond by hampering fat burning. It’s important to remember at all times that stress is the biggest enemy of an efficient digestive system and of the fat burning processes of the body. In the morning, the heart and breathing rates are at its lowest as this is the reflection of a relaxed state of mind and body. To keep the system relaxed, we need to give it real food, which is easy on the heart, lungs and stomach too.

The stimulants provided through tea and coffee increase blood sugar levels but provide zero nutrition to the cells that have been starving for the last 9 to 10 hours or more, post dinner. Moreover, the cuppa can mask you hunger, so you go hungry fora a long time without releasing it. Going hungry in the morning is a disaster for anybody who dreams of a sexy body. All it does is create a huge calorie deficit in the morning and then the body has no other option but to overeat later to make up for the deficit. All of us who just ‘don’t feel like eating anything in the morning’ are victims of a slow metabolic rate and of a digestive system which is not functioning effectively. Numerous studies have shown how a hearty, healthy breakfast can increase our metabolic rate. Some of the herbal infusions won’t give you the kick but it will prolong the time between waking up and eating, which is why I prefer you stick with this rule even if you are a herbal tea drinker.

Tea and Antioxidants

Now isn’t your cup of green tea rich in antioxidants? Actually let’s understand this whole antioxidants business. Antioxidants are nothing but compounds (mostly vitamins and minerals) which prevent damage from free radicals in the body. (Free radicals are by-products of normal metabolic reactions and are carcinogenic in nature.) Now, the antioxidants can only work in the presence of carbs, proteins and fats. So if that cuppa is going to delay your meal (rich in these macro nutrients), the antioxidants, my dahlings, will be rendered useless!

So like the Vishnu in the Padmanabham temple conveys, look at the picture in totality. Without first eating your meal (which also by the way has vitamins/minerals – source of our beloved antioxidants) your antioxidant rich tea is well, shall I break your heart, useless. By the way, for you to really benefit from the ‘antioxidants’ you need a large enough amount of them. So it means that you will have to drink many teas, which will only cause acidity, heart burn, bloating, mask your hunger and make you over eat a t later time.

One more heart breaker, when you eat antioxidant rich chocolates the excess sugar or sweetener in it renders the antioxidants in it useless.

With sunrise, the metabolism peaks and the cells demand nutrition. This is the time to eat big. If you are not used to eating anything in the morning, start with a fruit. After that, within an hour, have your paratha, muesli, chapati and vegetable. Anything that is healthy and fibre rich. Once your cells receive nutrition through food and the blood sugar comes to an optimum level, feel free to have your tea or coffee. the breathing rate, heart rate, etc will still increase, but now your first meal or breakfast will act as a buffer.

So the foundation to a great body is laid by what you eat and drink within the first 10 to 15 minutes of waking up. Eating right is about getting in touch with your body and sharpening your awareness of it. Eating immediately on rising puts us in touch with our body’s hunger signals. Instead of going through an afternoon slump we will start feeling hungry more often in the day. Which leads us to the second principle.

But before that what about going to the loo? When you follow all the principles, you will actually want to go to the loo first thing in the morning even before you eat or drink anything.

The Asian Pot

I am talking about the one you have in the toilet. After we have sat on your pot, read our paper, bent forward to put ‘pressure’ on our eliminatory organs (actually a way to imitate or recreate a more natural position), we get up (not so satisfied, feeling like ‘something is still in there’) and wash our hands using a ‘natural’ hand wash which has not been tested on animals and uses natural herbs. On one hand, we want everything ayurvedic, herbal, natural (green tea, herbal infusions, spas, even ayurvedic clothes) and on the other hand we use the most unnatural posture for defecation. But if we care so much for natural, how about adopting the most natural (and comfortable) squatting posture when we answer ‘nature’s call’

The seated posture on the western toilet actually closes and constricts your eliminatory organs. Under pressure or stress, it’s almost impossible to feel ‘open to let go’. This then leads to the vicious cycle of laxatives, which further weakens your digestive system and washes of all the B vitamins from the large intestine. So all that you do is ‘create’ problems for yourself. Western toilets and the discomfort they bring to the body have been identified as a contributor to constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

The traditional Indian shitting posture (actually this is exactly what everybody used before the advent of the commode, including Westerners), helps to relax the organs and encourages you to let go. This posture will also help you get rid of bloating. A clear stomach and a digestive system which works at its optimal health are the foundation of losing fat and getting healthier.

Of course, to get comfortable in the Indian sitting posture you will need to workout regularly to keep those hips and legs strong and flexible and the joints lubricated. (It’s sad how inactivity has made this most natural posture impossible for us.)

Come on, its not enough to assert that we are all Indians only during an India-pak match, we need to do it daily, in our own private space, the bathroom. So say yes to sitting the Indian way. I can almost see you nodding the Indian way!

As for aesthetics, if your designer is good, the bathroom will look great either way!

Summary

Eating first thing in the morning well lead to an

  • Increase in blood sugar and energy levels, which will lead to an…
  • Increase in metabolic rate and fat burning, and a…
  • Decrease in acidity and bloating, and will…
  • Reduce chances of overeating later in the day, and…
  • Stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the day, which means…

Less chances of getting fat.

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