15 replacements to make your diet healthy

If you are among those who are now being thoughtful about your food choices, here are some simple ideas to help you diet healthy.

Ever since I became a mom, I realized the importance of nutrition in its truest sense – to nourish our body and soul. I started paying more attention to food as a tool for providing nutrition and health to our bodies, rather than something I used to stuff in me to please my taste buds or fulfill my hunger pangs. This is because I have realized our body, mind and soul is a reflection of what we feed it. Since we are born from nature, we will thrive on nature and hence we need nourishment that is as close to its natural form as possible.

So, if you are amongst those who are now being thoughtful about your food choices – be it to keep harmful pesticides or toxins away or be it to really nourish your bodies instead of filling it with empty calories, here are some simple ideas that may be of help on a day to day basis:

1. Use fresh fruits and vegetables rather than canned processed foods whenever possible to cut down on preservatives and other chemicals.

2. To make your regular wheat flour (atta) more nutritious, add 10-20% soya flour, besan, ragi flour, bajra flour or buckwheat flour (or all of them). You can also add 1 or 2 teaspoons of  wheatgerm to the dough to gain its benefits. This way you will have fortified mixed flour chapatis rather than plain wheat ones. Or you can also just choose to buy an organic brand of multigrain aata.

3. Eat unpolished red rice or brown rice instead of regular polished white rice. Unpolished brown or red rice is a good source of fiber, essential amino acids and B vitamins, including B6. Experiment with the many varieties of unpolished rice available.

4. While making Dosa, replace rice in the batter with brown rice or bajra/jowar/wheat/daliya batter. This will reduce the glycemic load.

5. Instead of de-husked dals, use whole dals, ragi, chana, udad dal, etc. They provide more minerals and fiber.

6, Choose unsweetened breakfast cereals and add in some honey and fruit to it. This will act as a natural and much more nutritious sweetener.

7. Pick multigrain bread over white and brown bread.

8. While making bhel, simply cut down on the sev and used roasted chana instead.

9. Instead of refined sugar in your milk, tea or coffee, switch to palm sugar for a more natural and low glycemic index alternative or stevia for a zero calorie and zero glycemic index option. Processed white sugar can increase acidity, causes mineral deficiencies and weakens the immune function among other things.

10. Start your day with 1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder in half a glass of water to get all the benefits you may get from 4 plates of green salad. Wheatgrass is a good source of chlorophyll, folic acid and a huge number of minerals. It is a powerful blood cleanser and an antioxidant.

11. When in the mood for something warm to drink, brew up a nice hot cup of green tea with honey in it.

12. Snack on seeds or dry fruits when the mid-day snack craving hits you. These are power packed and full of essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids that most vegetarians would normally miss out on.

13. You can also make a dry cereal mix with lots of oats, bran, seeds, and a variety of dry fruits(such as raisins, almonds, cashews etc.) and keep it ready. When a snack craving hits, just pour in a bowl, add milk, palm sugar and enjoy.

14. Try cooking millets, quinoa or couscous as a substitute for rice at times.

15. If you are always in a rush during mornings and don’t have time for breakfast, try whipping up healthy and wholesome smoothies at home. One power smoothie idea – whip together 1 cup of milk, 2 scoops of whey protein, 1 teaspoon palm sugar, and 4 almonds. You can also add wheat germ or flaxseeds or fresh fruit for an extra kick.

Now, every time I am at the grocery store, I notice I am drawn more towards food in its natural form rather than all its processed variations.  For the few “processed” items I do pick up, I read more closely, the ingredients and nutritional content on the boxes of cereals, jams, crackers, and other staples.  More importantly, I now appreciate the benefits of using organic food as much as possible and using healthier substitutes instead of the usual culprits to fulfill kids’ cravings for junk and comfort food. Over the past few years, my loyalty has gradually shifted from the commercial supermarket to natural / organic food stores.

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