Over time, our indulgence towards food has become nearly a routine, and the patterns of our diets almost cast in stone. There are few of us who look at a new vegetable and think, “let me buy that and figure out how to cook it”, and even fewer who say, “I’ve been buying potatoes every week for months now, so let’s do a week without potatoes”. The first question that comes to the minds of most, is “Why do I even need to cook new vegetables and deprive my family of their favorite foods?!” Read on.
One might think such restrictions or suggestions are imposed for the sake of doing so and they serve no real purpose. In thinking so, we couldn’t be more mistaken.
For example, different plant foods include different types of nutrients. Rare is the household that sees every kind of green, leafy, legume, lentils, tubers and other types of plants coming in on a regular basis. Most of us have a fairly fixed routine, that may vary week to week, but is usually the same month to month. If we stick to the same foods, then it stands to reason that our bodies receive and miss the same sets of nutrients. This is sorted by trying out new vegetables and other plant based foods each week.
Similarly, we tend to indulge in starchy foods more than others, and in the longer term these tend not to be so great for our bodies. Even without them, sooner or later, we find that dietary restrictions of one kind or another are imposed upon us by the family doctor due to our health conditions, and at that time, usually in our late 30s to mid 40s, we find it very hard to change. Why not begin rocking the boat sooner?
In our IF90 groups on Facebook and Telegram, we run two types of programs. One is the 4 week IF90 Public Program, which is a free of cost, bot-supported, 4 week endeavor towards lifestyle change. The other is a set of daily challenges that repeats week on week.
In this blog post, I’ll share details on the latter – the daily challenges.
Monday: Soup and Salads
On this day, our meals should be soups and/or salads only. Remember, your salads can be cooked, chilled, warm and your soups too can be hot or cold. The point of this day is to learn different flavor combinations and break past the pattern of formats like dal-sabzi that we’re so very used to. Use meats, pastas, dumplings and whatever else you want. We should also learn how to make better soups. Soups and salads are two areas I see quite a few of us lacking.
- Salad dressings
- Warm salads
- Interesting salad ingredients
- How to plate a salad well
- Learn how to make a good stock
- Explore different types of soups (thin, thick, creamy, chunky, transparent…)
Tuesday: Veg Food Only
While this doesn’t pose much of a problem for vegetarians, it can be restrictive for non-vegetarians. The purpose is to expose us to more plant foods than we might otherwise be used to. Non vegetarians are expected to refrain from meat and egg products, while both non-vegetarians and vegetarians are expected to try a plant based ingredient they haven’t tried to cook or eat before.
- Different plant based recipes
- Explore new plant based ingredients
- Combine dairy and plants in different ways
- Try new formats of foods
Wednesday: No Grain Day
Grains are an overwhelming presence in our lives and a major source of carbohydrates. Given their presence in our diets, we are at the receiving end of quite a lot of glucose at the end of the day, something our bodies are quite capable of manufacturing by themselves, and which we’re eating too much of.
The purpose of this day is to break patterns and learn how to cook and get through a day without grains, in addition to reducing the grains in our diet a little. One question most ask is, but what will we eat? The answer is, everything else.
- Cooking a meal without grains
- Making non-grain meals interesting enough
- Making non-grain meals satisfying enough
Thursday: Raw Food Day
We’re all quite used to eating cooked foods and rarely realize how ingredients taste in their natural forms, which is especially true in the Indian context. This day is about expanding our horizons and learning more, as raw foods aren’t necessarily healthier than cooked foods. In fact, cooking helps make some nutrients more available to our bodies, in some cases.
You aren’t confined to vegetables and can also indulge in Sashimi. You can also include fermented foods in your diet on this day.
- Learn how to enjoy the natural taste of foods
- Push past the need to only eat cooked foods
- Get creative with raw foods – combinations and formats
Friday: No Sugar & Dairy
This day has two objectives – one to break our patterns where we’re so used to having a cup of tea or coffee with milk and sugar in the morning or the evening. Secondly, to realize just how deeply sugar is embedded in our lives. Sugar is a functionally useless substance that only causes damage in the long term, depending on the quantity and frequency of use.
- Explore the different types of teas and coffees available.
- Learn how to enjoy your daily cup, without milk or sugar.
- Try to skip your daily cup if possible.
- Observe the need for sweetness in your day.
- Do not use artificial sweeteners.
Saturday: Self Care Day
We indulge far too much as I mentioned earlier, and this not only reduces the value of indulging, but also damages our health over a period of time. On the other hand, being too strict with ourselves for too long is likely to cause us to swing the other way soon and binge. We need a balance, which a weekly indulgence represents.
Spend time with nature, spend time purely for yourself, eat the foods you want, get a relaxing massage, do whatever makes you happy.
- Learn how to spend a disciplined week
- Learn how to indulge meaningfully
- Learn how much more pleasurable indulgences can be after a week of discipline
Sunday: Review The Week
On this day, we’ll contemplate the past week and note what we did well and what we can do better. These notes don’t have to be profound or formal, as long as they’re available to us and we are aware of how we can move forward towards better health and wellness.
At the end of the day, we’re all human beings with our own sets of strengths and weaknesses. All we need is to become aware of them and slowly improve ourselves.