The Benefits of Walking and Healthy Dieting

Dietician Mumbai

A lot of clients who come to me say that they are hard pressed to find time in their lives for exercise. To them I ask, ‘What if you could extend your lifespan simply by walking and eating healthy? Wouldn’t you do it? I tell them that research has proved that when you do something for 21 days, you start to develop a habit. If you cant start an exercise routine and continue it beyond 21 days then you can start to develop a healthy lifestyle, feel better, lose weight and extend the years of your life. Also remember that apart from exercise, ‘You are what you eat’! If you become more conscious of your eating habits then you can hopefully improve your health and turnaround your life for the better.

As a Diet and Nutrition Consultant and a Obesity and Diabetes Management Specialist, one of my chief goals in life is to stop the epidemic of Diabetes that is sweeping over our country. The rates of diabetes and obesity have increased by alarming rates over the last two decades, especially in Indian cities. What is more worrisome is that the rates of Obesity are increasing even amongst children. It is a well known fact that obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Kids who are obese also face social and psychological problems like discrimination and poor self-esteem that may persist into their adult years.

The reasons for India’s health crisis can be blamed on India’s rapid societal change and urbanization. This urbanization has created an “obesogenic environment‘” where there is an abundance of food with decreased physical activity, social disparity, psycho-social stress, smoking and drinking, health illiteracy and lower than optimum self-care

Start by Walking

You can improve your life minute by minute simply by walking. If you watch and listen to Kaiser Permanente’s Every Body Walk! Campaign and his documentary “The Walking Revolution” you will realise that walking can change your life. Watch the video below for some inspiration.

Walking is a simple but highly effective form of moderate exercise activity that gives you a whole lot of health benefits. Research has proven that for every minute of walking, you extend your life by ninety seconds to two minutes.  All it takes is 30 minutes of walking, five days a  week to show positive health results.150 minutes of walking every week will lead to positive health results. To achieve 150 minutes of walking, you must walk for 30 minutes every day for 5 days every week. Walking is easy and fun. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a safe place to walk.You can walk in parks and gardens and even inside shopping malls! Start a walking group amongst your friends. Get out and walk. I know that you can do it!! 

Think About What You are Eating

As a society we can now access food 24 / 7 especially with the advent of food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato! Food is not only sold everywhere it has now developed wheels so that you can now order food wherever you are – at office, at home, at a park or on a mountain! We are all eating large amounts of processed and prepared foods. Indians who have traditionally been a society that always believed in freshly cooked meals are now shockingly aping the western habits of buying convenience foods that are loaded with additives and preservatives. These foods are loaded with unhealthy levels of salt, sugar and fats.

Did you have breakfast today? If not, then your body is being deprived of fuel and sustenance. Skipping meals especially breakfast is unhealthy. Every person needs to eat at least 3 timely meals per day. We need to eat real food like our ancestors did – and not fast food or processed foods.Ignore the consequences of poor nutrition choices at your own peril. It is a fact that a majority of urban societies (even the developed ones) are malnourished. Americans for example tend to be overweight and undernourished despite being the richest nation in the world. The results of poor nutrition do not just show in your energy levels, your skin and your face. Poor nutrition also causes poor performance, lower core body strength, increased body fat, slower mental processes, dull problem solving skills and slower reflexes.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

To help you get the required nutrients from your daily diets, it is important to eat a variety of fruits and veggies. Your ideal Plate should consist of half of fruit and vegetable servings. The remaining of the plate must contain 1/4 grains and 1/4 proteins. Apart from this you must also choose a low fat dairy serving. Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories, have no added sugar, and are filled to the brim with vitamins, minerals, water, dietary fiber and phytochemicals (chemical compounds in plants that have many health benefits including potential cancer fighting agents). We should all consume 2 – 3 servings of fruit and 3 – 5 servings of vegetables each day. Sources of fruits and vegetables must be fresh and not frozen or canned. Dried fruits and 100% juice substitutes are also good when fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice is not available. We all need at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. These foods are real foods and not foods that are convenience or foods that come in boxes. 

All fruits are good for our health but fruits and vegetables that have deep bright colours are nutrient dense and especially good for our health. In my next article I will differentiate the different groups of fruits and vegetables by color and to “Eat the Rainbow!” Till then, start walking if you are not already and like your grandma would say – eat more fruits and veggies!

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