A generation that loves everything instant, it would have been excellent to give instant nourishment to the body as well. Unfortunately, that's not a possibility. There is no alternative to good health, and there are no quick fixes for proper nutrition. Because health is not just a number, you see on the weighing scale. How does one define nutritional needs? Does it change with the changing world? Well, the needs inevitably change, but nutrition doesn’t. The protein will still be protein, and good fats will always be good fats. We change the number of foods, and we change the way we look at these foods. The most straightforward rule for the nutritional needs of today's youth: go back to basics. With the information pouring in from everywhere. The youth finds it hard to keep up with so many new foods on the supermarket shelf. Is chia better or flaxseeds? Is quinoa good or oats? Is red rice now to replace the brown rice? The basic rule will never fade away: half your plate must be full of vegetables, one fourth with pulses and legumes and the remaining one fourth with protein. This is the thumb rule for the correct way to eat meals.
Now coming to the needs, let’s talk about individual nutrients:
- Protein: Each cell of the body is made of protein. It is required for growth, regeneration of cells, build immunity, and feed hormones. Eggs, chicken, fish, paneer, and curd are a part of the protein group.
- Dals and legumes: Pulses, beans, dals are sources of complex carbohydrates, fibre and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Vegetables: Cooked or raw, there isn’t an alternative discovered to replace plants, and they are the most crucial in weight management, disease prevention, and treatment.
- Fruits: More the colours, more nutrition.
- Nuts and oilseeds: Yes, avocado is good fat. Yes, ghee is required. But the major mistake youth makes taking excess of good things. Remember, nothing in excess is good, and moderation is always the key.
- Water: This little lifesaver is replaced with fancy beverages, but its just water that does the trick to give good health.
- Sleep: We are abusing this fundamental right and need to work upon the most famous quote 'early to bed and early to rise', makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.
Dr Alifia S Bhol, Clinical Nutritionist, Lifestyle Therapist & Founder, NutriAl Diet Clinic quickly points out how temporary and trending diet culture has ruined nutrition of today's youth:
- Traditional sweet made at home for birthdays got replaced with cakes/ brownies/ cupcakes etc. A happy occasion celebrated with lavish home food got replaced with an outing for pizza/burger.
- Home-made breakfast got replaced with instant porridge/ cereal. Gut friendly drinks like chhaas and sherbet got replaced with unhealthy smoothies/shakes. What happened then? The youth missed out on foods containing iron, calcium, B complex, protein, and gut-friendly microflora.
- The food industry promotes the not so healthy food products as healthy and misleads the youth. For example, brown bread is advertised as more youthful, but actually, it's caramelised, so it's more to be avoided than white bread!
- The take-home message for today's youth must be: Eat more home-cooked meals, choose natural foods over packaged foods, choose farm over factory-made and put common sense first whenever it comes to healthy eating.
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