Aatmanirbharta, a Hindi word signifying self-reliance is an excellent quality to have and nurture. The benefits of self-reliance are many. If practised consistently, self-reliance can be very beneficial for personal and professional growth. For example, if we do not rely or depend on others to provide us information for a particular task, we can accomplish it faster and also prove ourselves as multi-taskers, mindful and proactive workers. Being self-reliant in our personal lives can be very rewarding too. Taking ownership of tasks, errands, etc. can be empowering.
Similarly, self-reliance or aatmanirbharta with regard to nutrition is also important to build immunity, good health and wellness. When we are healthy, we can ensure our family and loved ones are healthy and well too. The ‘Nutrient Aatmanirbharta- Know What You Eat’ webinar, an initiative by Cadila, aimed at educating people about ensuring the right nutrition to boost immunity, especially in the current high-risk situation, as well as to ensure overall health. The webinar attended by more than 1000 people saw Dr Ruby Sound share essential tips on healthy eating. Dr Sound is a renowned dietician and Secretary of the Indian Dietary Association, Mumbai Chapter and Assistant Editor- Indian Journal of Medical Sciences.
Through an insightful conversation, Dr Ruby shed light on the right foods to eat, the benefits of different vitamins, but most importantly, she persuaded the audience to make the right choice vis-à-vis food, a healthy lifestyle and practise mindfulness. Dr. Ruby stated, “Mindful eating has become extremely relevant for the lifestyles of today, which are increasingly consumerist, distractive, sedentary and unhealthy”.
There is a clear distinction between Nutrient-dense and Calorie-dense foods. While nutrient-dense foods include fruits, nuts, vegetables and seafood, calorie-dense foods are canned drinks, fried food, fast food and sugary items. Usually we tend to prefer calorie-dense or comfort food above healthy food. This tendency towards choosing calorie-dense food is subconsciously encouraged more by digital media, apps and constant notifications about discounts and offers on food items. Although gratifying, these foods are laden with calories and negligible in nutrients. These also do not serve any purpose in building our immunity or fighting off infectious diseases. Dr Ruby said, “When a pathogen enters our body, our immune system is activated and spikes metabolism. A heightened metabolic rate creates a demand for more energy in the body. It is only rational to choose nutrient-dense foods versus calorie-dense foods to fulfil the body’s demand for nutritious food to build immunity and fight off diseases.”
Bringing a drastic change in one’s lifestyle in these times is difficult. However, that does not mean we cannot be healthy and/or ensure the right nutrition. Ensuring mindfulness about what we eat is key to nutrient aatmanirbharta. In Dr Ruby’s words, “Nutrient Aatmanirbharta is all about making the right decision about what to eat and how much to eat”. Simple yet very valuable steps can help people to integrate changes into their lifestyles. For example, office-goers could choose to replace a packet of chips with a bowl of unsalted nuts with flax seeds, coffee with coconut water, a fast-food item with fruits, etc. One must ensure they have a good breakfast while dinner must be the lightest meal. A cup of turmeric milk with a dash of pepper before going to bed is a great immunity enhancer and can easily be incorporated into one’s diet. Lastly, a sufficient intake of water is absolutely essential for nutrient absorption. Excess coffee and tea must be avoided to ensure proper nutrient assimilation.
To sum up, nutrient aatmanirbharta can be achieved by being mindful of our food choices. Thinking wisely about what, when and how much to eat is key to taking charge of our own health and immunity. Mindful eating is important now more than ever.
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