Often people ask me how to manage a healthy lifestyle that’s harmonious with nature and social life. Just because one is health conscious does not mean he surrenders to a hermit’s lifestyle. Where there are problems, solutions show up if we stick to our principles and keep an open mind to recognise it.
In the past, partying, celebrations, big gatherings were fewer than today. But the trend seems to be increasing and so is the decline in the health of people. The rate of consumption of animal foods has skyrocketed. The more widespread the food varieties at a social gathering, the more satisfied is the ego. Our ancestors lived relatively healthy lives even without a lot of raw food-reason being that they stuck to simple uncontaminated foods, disciplined consumption, regular fasting, mental poise, working hard under the Sun and led a stress-free lifestyle. Today most of the birthdays are celebrated in fast food joints, festivals are lavish, marriages are too loud, with plenty of food, less eco-friendly and expectations for celebrations for every single occasion among friends have increased.
So, how can one balance this social life and health while attending to social commitments? Should we surrender to the food varieties or use our judgement?
The art of balancing
This is how I learnt to manage living in a joint family setup, meeting all the expectations of social needs, not burning bridges with anyone while still maintaining my health.
I have been leading a healthy lifestyle since 2012. I have also taught my kids to think along these lines in social situations. This might not be ideal nor nature-cure approved, but I believe it’s practical. However, such deviations cannot happen on a daily basis. The body is patient, but one cannot take it for granted and bend the holistic approach regularly without facing due consequences.
One can wonder why one must follow all this since it can be a one-off indulgence. Body recognises only fruits, vegetables and leafy greens as the primary food. If we take that as an ideal benchmark and measure it against the deviations we make in our food habits daily, it will continue to pile the extra unrecognized food as toxins. If the same approach is continued, what might start as fatigue, can pile up to become a destructive disease over many years. Hence, while I follow a high raw lifestyle with very little organic whole plant food at night, I still think that one-off indulgence in wrong animal foods will impact the temple-like body which is working 24X7 for my well-being. If my body eliminates toxins, I let it release naturally without any suppression. However, being mindful about not eating the wrong foods is something I have learnt by experience and these tips come after a lot of trials and error. A well-known naturopath Kenneth Jeffrey quoted “Nature has not provided cures for diseases. Nature has only provided penalties for breaking some natural law”
Say ‘No’ to these foods:
Dairy, meat, eggs, sea food - any food that has ingredients belonging to these categories
Sweets made with sugar
Sweets made with jaggery but with added ghee (dairy)
Refined flour-based paratha/nan
Wheat-based chapati or roti
Tea, Coffee, Soft drinks
Paan, Beeda, Supari
Reasons to avoid the following:
Dairy, meat, eggs, sea food – Meat, dairy, eggs and seafood which are sourced from animals, are handled very well by acarnivore’s digestive system with no negative health consequences, whereas the human digestive system cannot handle high fats and cholesterol well. Any foods with added milk, curd, buttermilk, paneer, butter, creams belong to the dairy category. Consuming animal-based foods can cause health consequences in humans.
Sweets made with sugar – Refined white sugar lacks fibre, is acidic and leaches calcium and magnesium from bones and causes health issues.
Fried foods - Deep-fried foods are carcinogenic. The high heat deforms the oil causing it to combine with other food groups inappropriately which creates toxic compounds that body cannot act upon to excrete.
Sweets made with jaggery but with added ghee – reasons listed under dairy.
Pickles - as they are concentrated with refined salt, spices and refined oils.
Refined flour-based paratha/nan - as they can also have dairy curd to make the dough sour and fermented. In some cases industrially produced unnatural yeast is used to prepare sourdough. This can cause imbalances in the GUT.
Wheat based chapati or roti - have refined flour mixed which lacks fibre and causes acidity build up in the body. Wheat and other flours such as maida, barley have gluten, a protein that humans have no enzymes to digest. This feeds the scavengers like virus and is one of the primary causes for autoimmune issues such as IBS and bone-related conditions to name a few.
Tea, Coffee-Usually made with dairy milk and refined sugar is high. They contain crystalline alkaloids that cause nerve stimulation including traces of trigonelline present in Nicotine.
Soft-drinks - One such drink takes about 30 glasses of water to neutralize. Acidity in these drinks causes ageing and chronic illnesses. Contains fake food like substances such as preservatives, caffeine, quinine, anticaking agents, acidifying agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers.
Paan, beedi, Supari – Are nerve stimulants, addictive, contains refined sugars, aromas, colours and other additives which can negate the benefits of a healthy betel leaf.
Ice-creams – Ice-creams contain artificial industrial fake foods such as whipping creams, refined sugars, animal gelatine, thickening agents, preservatives for longer shelf life, anti-crystalizing agents,anti-freeze, industry produced artificial flavours, colours.
Prefer these foods:
Raw vegetables & Green leaves
Jaggery based sweets that you are sure has no dairy
Refined oil in tadka - one cannot expect party foods to be free of refined oils. Although fried food can be avoided, we may not find food free of oils. Hence this will be an exception
Dals made with lentils without any added ghee for tadka
Gravies that does not have dairy cream. Enquire and if answers are not convincing, skip the dish (North Indian gravies typically use either dairy based creams or refined corn flour, south Indian can use dairy cream or coconut cream)
Chaats like bhel can be customised to have just mixed vegetables, salt, pepper and green chutney
When absolutely nothing plant based is available, it’s best to stick to only raw foods than eating the wrong foods and suffering the consequences. If cravings bother you, promise yourself to visit a vegan restaurant or make yourself a vegan version of that dish.
If plant-based and raw is also not available, then you can skip the meal with a health excuse. Upset stomach/ loose-motions are something that people are aware of and will empathise.
If you are in charge of the cooking, like for example a function at home, go the extra mile and make yourself a healthy version of any dish. Resigning to the wrong foods for lack of time is an excuse that can cause very uncomfortable eliminations.
If you are not in control of cooking, apply the do’s and don’ts as detailed above.
If you have to visit a relative for a few days, carry fruits for 1-2 days of breakfast and meanwhile make arrangements to look for sources who can deliver / you go buy.
If you cannot avoid cooked for lunch, skip dinner.
In cases where you can manage to customise your dish, get it done. Chefs love challenges and in most of the cases, they love to go an extra mile for a customer to see a happy smile. In some cases, I know people who were on a healing crisis from severe issues and could not manage anything but steamed veggies. The chef steamed some vegetables, added just pepper and salt and served it.
Off late in the name of Prasad at places of worship, sweets loaded with ghee, milk, fried foods, refined flours, refined oils, artificial colours are served. It’s my personal opinion that when the almighty has given us the awareness of the right food habits, he will excuse us if we refuse it or smartly avoid it. If you have to carry something as an offering, choose fruits. If you have to accept a dairy based sweet, just disappear from there smartly. Trust me, there is no use trying to convince anyone else about our belief system or winning any argument.
How to manage the deviation?
Plan to have raw / juice the whole day before the ‘special’ meal. This will help compensate for the deviation from the usual routine.
Fasting the next day is a good practice to let the body manage the elimination. Body is designed to maintain a balance and hence will try to throw toxins in the form of cold/cough/fevers/vomiting/loose motions/pains/indigestions etc. This can happen when body fasts/refrain from digestion when the body gets sufficient energy to clean itself. One can take a water enema too.
If multiple days have been spent eating the wrong foods, it’s best to juice fast for a week to give digestive rest and help the body flush toxins.
Lemon shots after such meals (1:1 lemon juice:: water) will help balance the GUT.
Ajwain / Carrom seeds powder 1/2 spoon with some hot water helps ease the bloating when you are stuck in odd situations and you don't have an option to manage yourself yet. Carry this powder.
Carry salt+turmeric mix to manage sore throats and cold irritations when fasting on liquids is still not an option.
The need to attend functions is to ensure we maintain the relationships with loved ones and not necessarily to consume the foods served. Hence such workarounds will balance both.
Do mingle well with everybody, participate in all functions, spread happiness despite food limitations and keep an open mind towards criticism and smile. This will make others accept your habits even if they don’t approve or like it. It’s all a matter of how you carry yourself and stick to your principles. Ultimately you are the only person who can define your health and how you achieve that. There is no diseased body, it's always a diseased mind.
(About Smitha Hemadri:I am a health educator since 2014 & have been helping people in reversing their ailments naturally given my own experience.)
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