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Can’t follow rigid meal plans?

Nutrimend tells you how you can transform your health in a more sustainable way

Neha Patodia, Nupur Arya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 23.09.21, 12:12 AM

Restrictive diet plans are too last season. It’s time now for us to explore and try mindful eating. To do so one must know what a traditional meal looks like. It comprises the following:⚫ 1500 kcal a day
⚫50 per cent of which should come from carbs, 30 per cent from proteins and 20 per cent from fats
⚫ Divided among three meals
⚫ 40 per cent of that from your post-workout meal.
⚫ 50 per cent of carbs should be from veggies and the rest from whole grains
⚫ A glass of apple cider vinegarbefore every

The outcome usually is, following it religiously for a week and then giving in to the pressure of busy lifestyles, social obligations, travelling or demanding jobs. When a meal plan is so complicated, we start rationalising our way out of it such as ‘I don’t have the time to prepare so much’, ‘It’s getting too expensive’ or ‘it’s too chaotic to carry all my meals to work’, and so on. You might run out of veggies, or maybe you need to attend a big family get-together or you have an impromptu brunch plan with your friends. If you turn to junk food each time your day doesn’t go as planned, you won’t be able to stick to your diet for more than three days.


Hence dawns the realisation that one does not need a doctor’s prescription look-alike meal plan to lose weight but a more practical sustainable solution.So here’s a hack for you: stop seeking perfection! What we really need to embrace in our daily hectic and bizarre lives is the world of intuitive eating, which can be conveniently achieved by following the basic principles outlined below:

Always ask yourself, “Can I make this meal just a little bit better?”

The goal is not to be perfect but to improvise each time. For example:
Day 0 (usual practice): A tall cold coffee (which is basically dessert in a glass) along with some cheesy fries and a chocolate muffin.
Day 1: Order a short cold coffee instead of tall (you will save around 100 calories).
Day 2: Enjoy your short cold coffee with milk and sugar but skip the extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce. You are having the chocolate muffin anyway, so you can make peace with this.
Day 3: Order basic fries instead of the cheesy ones. They will still be crunchy and yum.
Day 4: Order a salad along with everything and have that before eating the rest. You will end up eating more veggies and have less appetite for the fries and muffin.
And in this way, you will cut down your evening snack calories by 50 per cent or more. This is what you need to do for all your meals. Focus on progression and not perfection.

Do a kitchen makeover:

If you have a packet of chips and a tub of ice cream in your kitchen, it will probably be the first thing you are going to grab when hunger strikes at odd hours. So why test your will power when you can make it easier for yourself by just cleaning up your pantry?

The goal here is to stock up your kitchen with foods that you should be consuming and decluttering the kitchen to make it conducive to your goals. How do you do it?

⚫ Identify the obvious junk such as chips, biscuits, all processed foods, frozen foods etc.
⚫ Identify the tricky foods — the ones that appear healthy but actually aren’t (for instance, diet chidwas, sugar-laden granola bars, baked chips).
⚫ Replace these with healthier alternatives, the ones that will help you reach your goals and are reasonably palatable such as fruits, fresh cheese, unsweetened nut butters, seeds, veggies, nuts, whole grains, sprouts, whey protein etc.Our convenience moulds our decision, so use that to your advantage. Modify you environment in a manner that when hunger pangs strike at midnight you end up snacking on the nuts instead of a convenient packet of chips.

Meal planning to your rescue:

It’s very common for people to return from work, absolutely famished, and not being in the state to make reasonable food decisions and just grabbing on to whatever comes in their sight.Here’s the hack — at the start of each day, or the previous night, try to gauge how you would be placed throughout the day. For example, if you are working out at around 7pm in the evening, you will need something wholesome around 8.30pm. So instead of going on a food hunt post your workout and eating junk because of convenience/impulsive eating, just prepare something in advance or order beforehand. So this is how you can make healthy eating a no-brainer.

Learn to honour your hunger:Give yourself an unconditional permission to eat. There is a little rebel in all of us and it’s common to think more about food when you are trying not to. It’s like the more you resist eating, the hungrier you get and once you get extremely hungry, your plans of eating the perfectly portioned quinoa salad with vegetables and proteins get washed down the drain and you see yourself going for a bucket of fried chicken with some chocolate brownie and a bottle of Coke. So what’s the solution? Eat when you are hungry. Say you usually have your breakfast at 10am but for some random reason you woke up at 7am absolutely famished. Simply grab something light at 7am and move on with your day.

Feel your fullness:

That plate of butter naan and black dal might taste amazing and it’s justified to reach out for seconds and thirds, but each time you eat do you feel the need to unbutton your pants to enable you to breathe better? Try to rate your hunger and feeling of fullness on a scale of 1 to 10 before you reach out for seconds — 1 being really hungry and 10 being extremely full. You need to hit that sweet spot of 7 before you stop eating — which is when you feel good and you have room for another small portion but you don’t really need one. This might seem like a tedious process each time, but trust me, once you start practising this, it becomes a subconscious habit of gauging your hunger level in a split second and there, you’ve mastered your portion control.

So now you know that perfect meal plans are a fallacy, to live a healthy fit life you just need to incorporate mindful eating and tap into your body’s wisdom.
⚫ Be more attentive to the hunger and fullness cues and you will never overeat.
⚫ Focus on eating whole foods or real foods and you will automatically cut down on your junk intake.
⚫ Concentrate on improving one meal each day and slowly you will see yourself transform your meals.

Stay consistent, stay patient, small steps add up!

Nutrimend is a diet consultancy clinic founded by sister duo Neha Patodia and Nupur Arya in 2016

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