Eat more! Lessons from India

Fresh papaya, appam, egg curry and strong Keralan coffee

Fresh papaya, appam, egg curry and strong Keralan coffee

Currently, I’m talking up a book I love: UnDo It!, by Dean Ornish, M.D., and Anne Ornish. It gets right to the point about how simple lifestyle changes can prevent, and even reverse, chronic lifestyle diseases. (If you missed the original post, read it here.)

It’s a science-backed program that focuses on four major components:

  • A whole-foods, plant-based diet

  • Moderate exercise

  • Stress management

  • Love, social support and intimacy

Over the next four weeks, I’ll be highlighting one of the components of Dr. Ornish’s program, to show how easy it can be to incorporate these doable, sustainable practices into your own life, for optimal health.

This week, we’ll focus on food

So often, when we want to make a change in our health, maybe lose a few pounds, lower cholesterol or stabalize blood pressure, we focus on reducing or cutting back on certain foods. “Don’t eat this, eat less of that…” Does this sound familiar? For me, I can be strong for a while, but eventually, I feel deprived and give up, which creates a cycle of guilt that all too often leaves me feeling totally deflated. 

What if, instead eating less, we could actually eat more?

I know this may sound crazy, but I believe part of the solution to our western health woes is not to eat less, but instead to eat more – more plant-based, whole foods like fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, all as close to their natural state as possible.

Hold on. Are you saying I have to become a vegan?

Not at all, unless you want to! In fact, many vegans I know could benefit from eating more real foods. I’m simply suggesting that we eat more plant-based, whole foods, instead of processed junk. Michael Pollan puts it simply: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

On my recent trip to southern India, I discovered a cool way to incorporate more real food into our lives: 

Eat regular food for breakfast.

Southern India states are renowned for their delicious breakfasts. Instead of eating special, often packaged, processed and sugar-laden “breakfast foods,” such as cereal, pastries and breakfast bars, breakfast-eaters in southern India enjoy real food for breakfast: puttu with black chickpeas; egg curry with appam (a thin pancake made from rice); or something called ven pongal, a savory dish of rice and lentils, cooked and tempered with cumin and a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut butter.

You might be thinking: “That’s fine, but I live in mid-America, about as far away from southern India as you can get!” 

Me too. But our south Indian friends can inspire us. Instead of pouring a bowl of cereal, we can heat up a bowl of soup. Rather than grabbing a muffin from the neighborhood coffee shop, why not slather almond butter on hearty whole grain or gluten-free bread and top with apple slices? A leftover baked sweet potato from last night can be transformed with a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped walnuts. All of this is a lot more satisfying (and economical) than a cold, hard breakfast bar. 

Have more fun!

Instead of focusing on what we can’t eat – which let’s face it, is such a drag – it’s much more fun to focus on what we can eat, and that gets easier when we open up our minds and our options.  

If you want to make a south Indian breakfast for yourself – go for it, and I’ll be right over! But if you purely want to eat more to feel better, try shaking up your morning routine and let me know how it goes.

Learn more about how to feel your best, particularly after the age of 50, by scheduling a free discovery call with me. I’ve got lots of fun and delicious tricks up my sleeve. 

Click here to schedule a free 45-minute discovery call to find out more about Feeling Your Best After 50.

Here’s to feeling your very best!