Where do we go wrong with health and diet?

Here are some of the most common health mistakes that people make on a daily basis.
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You might be on top of health developments, listen to the latest health podcasts, exercise and diet regularly, and consult a great practitioner, but still struggle with keeping your health in check.

There is nothing more frustrating than doing everything right and not getting the results. But often, people tend to make mistakes that are a detriment to their health.

In this article, we will break down some of the most common health mistakes that we make on a daily basis.

1. Complex instead of simple

Recently, a practitioner commented on my article on LinkedIn that gut health was more complex than the basics – one of the biggest misconceptions.

To illustrate this point, let me share the story of someone I know. She has consulted with expensive practitioners, underwent very specific tests, and followed complex protocols, but continues to struggle with gut issues every few months. While fancy gut testing may have become a part of the functional world, however, I haven’t done a test so far.

You do not need fancy testing, especially if you do not know what to do with the information. Not unlike the common food allergy test, the person who runs gut tests does not provide any significant protocols except to suggest the removal of the allergic foods.

There is no point in running complex tests if you’re following the basics of mealtime, meal composition and mindful eating. Eat three meals a day. Avoid two-hourly meals and snacking, not even something like munching on dates. This does more for gut health than complex testing.

Eat three meals a day. Avoid two-hourly meals and snacking.

2. Dinner is the heaviest meal

While eating a heavy dinner after a full day of fasting might be helpful, daily scrimping through breakfast and dinner, and then attacking food late at night is disruptive to digestion, sleep, and gut health. Agni has a bell curve. It is mild at breakfast, fiery at lunch and slightly less at sunset. This means that you need dinner to be almost the same quantity as lunch, but with easier to digest ingredients.

This also means that dinner should not be had later than sunset. However, you should not skip breakfast. It means easily digestible foods with optimal protein at breakfast. Avoid raw, cold, and airy foods at breakfast, or you will naturally seek out a large dinner which might disrupt sleep.

3. Fearing fat or overdoing fat

Today, we see opposing worlds of whole food plant-based recommendations and keto. The truth is that both have benefits, but the key is to understand that everyone is unique and everyone needs something different at different times.

Health is nonlinear; it is multifactorial and dynamic. Fats are of different kinds, and we might need to tweak fats from time to time. Not consuming fats from any sources like ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil, can increase vata, and imbalance the autonomic nervous system. Fats help stabilise blood sugar, lower the glycaemic index of a meal, improve flavour and satiety, allow absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, support healthy hormone production, improve skin health, support brain health, and so much more.  

On the other hand, not everyone needs higher fats like keto. In Ayurveda, some need to build and rejuvenate while others need to reduce and might not manage high fat. High fat can also cause fatty liver. When in doubt, avoid all extremes, and stay with moderate fats at every meal.

4. Self-prescribing supplements and medication

Someone came to see me once who had gradually added one supplement after the other over several years and was taking thirty a day! She was no better. She also took antibiotics for diarrhoea, colds, and viral fever.

The dangers of self-prescribing are many, and these medications often stress the liver and kidney, more so if they are made of poor quality ingredients. If the liver and gut are not able to process them, all we end up doing is creating very expensive urine and stool problems.

Eventually, we need to take something being mindful of why we want to try, what is the timeline through which we can hope for improvement, when must we stop if it does not help, and whether there is a fear within us of what will happen if we stop.

5. Sleep timing

It is not enough just to sleep for nine hours. Timing, quality, and quantity matter. In Ayurveda, pitta time is from 10 pm to 2 am. This means that sleeping after 10 pm makes you more alert and less able to have deep sleep. There is a window when the liver is rejuvenating and there is optimal detoxification. When we are in deep sleep between 10 pm and 2 am, which implies that we must sleep earlier, we support our body improved detoxification. This also means that we will wake up possibly before 6 am.

The kapha time of the day is between 6 am and 10 am, Ayurveda finds a connection between waking up during the kapha time and increased lethargy during the day, and more lymphatic congestion. You might be sceptical, but try it out yourself. If it shifts something for the better, great! 

The most important point to take away from this article is to focus on the simple tools at hand, before considering complex protocols. Most often with clients, I’m just bringing home foundational principles and cleaning up unnecessary confusion. I truly believe in the power of simple over complex! Try it out for yourself. If you have added several digestive supplements, remove them all, and focus on eating calmly, avoiding stress at meals, chewing, sitting on the ground, eating three meals, and no snacking. See how it shifts your gut health. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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