Some Simple Healthy Habits

I have seen people suffer from heart problems when they least expected it. I would say I was 'lucky' that I had a lot of health problems like tendonitis, knee pain, etc at a relatively young age i.e. a couple of years ago. I did some research at sites likes and realised that being overweight is one of the primary causes of most diseases.You may not necessarily *look* overweight, but consult a height/weight scale to be sure. Also, these habits would be preventive too. 

This is a compilation of information from various sources, its quite likely that you already know many of the things that are here, but there's a good chance that you might pick up atleast one new habit thats useful.

There are countless ways to reduce one's weight... including exercise/aerobics/yoga/diet, etc. I am neither a doctor nor a physiotherapist... and definitely not any "icon of good health" ! I am writing this article solely on the basis of what my health is now *compared* to what it was around a year ago.

Many of us lack the time or discipline to consistently follow any of the conventional ways of maintaining health. No doubt we should nevertheless give it our best shot.However, I am not writing about those methods... I am listing three simple value-adding *habits* which can easily be incorporated into one's routine.

  • drink atleast a litre of water as soon as you wake up in the morning
  • avoid eating any fattening/oily food after around 6 PM (not being superstitious :-) ...just defining "evening" )
  • walk whenever you get the opportunity

Water helps burn fat
Water is necessary for your body to burnfat. Without water, your kidneys canít dotheir job properly and your liver has topitch in to help them. While itís helpingthe kidneys, your liver canít burn as muchfat, so some of the fat that would normallybe used as fuel gets stored in your body instead. Drinking more water lets the liver get back to its own job, turning fat into fuel. Dieting people need more water because they want to burn more fat, and because they have to get rid of more waste, like all the fat that has been used up. Water also helps keep muscles toned and skin soft.

You will also get rid of extra salt.

(I came to know recently that drinking warm water with honey and lemon in the mornings is highly recommended though I havent tried it out)

Heavy Dinners
Avoid eating anything within three hours of bedtime. Your metabolism slows down at night, so if you go to bed with a full stomach, your body wonít deal with the calories as efficiently as it would during the day. If youíre used to munching on chips or sweets during prime time, youíre putting weight on yourself. Ideal habit is to have a good breakfast and a very light dinner, and eat nothing else after dinner. Hence always give preference to arranging any lavish get-togethers with family/friends over lunch instead of dinner.

This is an idea I picked up from a speed reading book: for a few days, walk much faster than you normally do... not just by rapid paces, also by taking long strides and breathing deeply. It may be tiring at first. After a few days, relax and walk casually from then on. Your new casual speed will be much faster than your original casual speed. Take care of your posture: keep your back erect, allow your arms to swing freely,  and regulate your breathing by taking deep breaths, and try to keep your mind in the present instead of letting it wander around... esp important while crossing busy roads in Bangalore!! Advantages of walking fast: its good exercise, and it saves time since you get wherever you want to go faster.

Walking is ideally done in the morning, but if you're like me... you're never awake to see the light of dawn... so itís a good idea to always create opportunities for walking at any time - for eg choosing the staircase instead of the elevator, alighting at the third bus stop instead of the first one next to home, etc.

Brushing teeth at night

I find many of my friends lack this habit - it seems to be more a part of western culture. Believe me... I know its importance because I got so many silver fillings in my teeth (plus a root canal... ouch) that a customs official might suspect I carry some kind of weapon in my mouth every time I pass through a metal detector! I used to hate brushing teeth at night since it would spoil my lovely drowsiness and I wouldn't get sleep till late in the night. However once it became a habit, I can't sleep very easily if I havent brushed my teeth!!


Its also important to mouthwash after eating anything, atleast with plain water... its just a simple 10 second activity!

4 Rules of Eating
Here are the four rules of eating:

1. Be relaxed and happy while you eat. If you have tension in any part of your body including the inside of the abdomen, relax.

2. Always sit down while you eat, don't stand, lie down, or move around. (its an excellent idea though may not be an easy one, to squat on the floor instead of sitting at a table. - my Yoga instructor)

3. When you eat, do only that. Do not engage in any second activity, no matter how simple it may seem.

4. When you eat, "put your mind where your mouth is." Concentrate on the process of eating itself, chew every bite 20 times, especially the first bite. Chewing your food 20 Times Satisfies your body psychologically.Do not take another morsel or piece of food in your mouth unless you have swallowed the one you are already chewing. Keep that spoon, fork, or straw down at the table until you have actually swallowed the morsel in your mouth. Bringing your unPided attention to the process of eating. Follow the entire sequence of tasting, chewing, swallowing, and mentally follow it all the way as food descends into the stomach.

Breathing correctly helps regulate your entire psychophysical structure. Calm breath calms the mind, and heavy, rapid breathing accelerates the tempo of your thoughts and leads to tension of the body. The function of the breath is to supply oxygen to the body and to cleanse and purify the dark impure blood into vitalizing red blood. The breath indirectly supplies energy to the body by the explosion of oxygen into atoms of life force. Through habit, our bodies have become accustomed to food and air, but if we de-condition ourselves and train ourselves to life more by the life force, the less will we need to depend on secondary sources of sustenance, such as, food, oxygen, water, and sunshine.

To breathe properly, it is important that you also maintain a proper posture. Look carefully around you and you will observe the apathy with regard to this vital statistic of life. Right now, stop and check on how you are sitting or standing. Slouched, are you?!? If you exist all-folded-up, youíll restrict your breathing, squash your internal organ functioning, and generally limit the effectiveness of your clarity, awareness levels, and overall perspectives in life. When you breathe, remember to keep your spine straight and upright. The head should be held relaxed but looking straight ahead with the chin only slightly upraised. If the whole vertebral column is taut and rigid, moving upward from the coccyx (the tailbone at the base of the spine), seek to loosen and relax each of the many vertebrae turn by turn, all the way to the crown of your head. Simultaneously, lengthen up the front of your body from the pubic bone to the upper portion of the breastbone. Never sit with a crooked spine and squeezed lungs. As you breathe, deep and slow, remember that your diaphragm should (the area just below your ribs; the muscular partition between your chest and your stomach) expand with every inflow, and should contract with every outflow of breath. Throughout the day, cultivate the habit of doing spot checks on your breathing process. Speak with your diaphragm, and encourage it to expand a little bit more than it normally does. When you breathe in, the region of the abdomen must expand, and when we breathe out, it must contract; so many of us do just the reverse. Make a conscious and then unconscious habit of this and see the effects it quickly weaves into your life.

(dont have the exact URL... one of the Speaking Tree articles in )

Different kinds of food
According to the Bhagavad Gita, energy (Gunas) has three qualities that exist together in equilibrium: Sattvic (pure), Rajasic (over stimulating) and Taamasic (dull)

Sattvic Foods: These render the mind pure and calm and generate equanimity, enabling it to function at its maximum potential. Some food products which come under this category are milk, cereals (corn, wheat, unpolished rice, oatmeal...), fruits, vegetables, etc. Eating slowly with awareness is also sattvic.

Rajasic Foods: These feed the body at the expense of the mind. Too much rajasic food will overstimulate the body, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Meat, fish, eggs, coffee, cocoa, chilies, prepared mustard, spices, highly spicy or salty or seasoned foods are all rajasic foods. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.

Tamasic Foods: These cause a sense of inertia and laziness to set in. The body's resistance to disease is reduced and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger and greed. All intoxicants, stimulants, stale or half-cooked/overcooked food are some examples of tamasic foods. Overeating is also regarded as tamasic.

Different people have different opinions of which food falls under which category... but you get the general idea!

I think one observation if you've been to both North and South India, is that in North India people are much more rough and aggressive whereas in South India people (on an average) are relatively much more mild. I suspect this could be because of the spices used in North Indian food, compared to the relatively more bland food in South India. Also if you compare the temperament of people in North Karnataka (who eat chillies for lunch!) and those in South Karnataka... this difference is visible too.

Overeating to avoid wastage of food

Most of us Indians know the value of food and don't like to waste it. I have seen many situations where people, including me, have overeaten just to avoid the food already on their plate going to waste. 

My friend gave me an excellent suggestion... before putting anything on your plate, make an estimate of exactly how much you're going to eat. Do not be absent minded at the time of putting something on your plate, whether you are helping yourself or when somebody is serving you. Be assertive enough to say a polite no, no matter how much the host may try to persuade you.

Eye improvement techniques

"Fundamental rule: Listen to your eyes. Whether they are sore, tearing, itchy or tired, they are sending you a message. Listen to them. If your eyes hurt when you have been working at the computer for too long, stop and take a break. Be receptive to your eyes."            ~ excerpt from the below site.

The technique of Palming described there (or here ) is very relaxing. Another relaxing technique is to splash cold water on the eyes (with the eyes closed) every now and then. This was from a book Eye Care by Dr. Gala (not 100% sure of the name... its a very thin book with a yellow cover costing Rs 15) which has many useful techniques and excercises. Another tip from the same book:  hot water on the head weakens eyesight and should be avoided as far as possible.

Laughter is the best medicine  

No explanation needed for this one. Don't laugh just during comedy movies, but try to see humor in day to day situations around you, and especially dont hesitate to laugh at yourself!