“THE MAIN CHALLENGE IN URBAN INDIVIDUALS IS THEIR INABILITY TO STICK TO MEAL TIMINGS”
DR AMBRISH MITHAL Chairman and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Medanta: the Medicity, Gurgaon
People don’t eat on time and eat very late. They work all day, come home late and with just enough energy to have dinner and crash. The best meal time at night would be around 7 pm, but if that is difficult, try and eat by 8 pm and then give a gap of two-three hours before going to bed, that would be ideal. Irregular meals may set you up for obesity, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. The practice
of eating and then falling asleep is not a good thing for your health: your body and digestive system should rest while you sleep, not digest food.
People are often in a rush and don’t do justice to their breakfast. That’s a big problem. Breakfast should be heavy, lunch should be moderate, and dinner should be light and early. That’s very hard to implement, but needs to be done.
Lack of sleep and quality sleep is another challenge. Many times people come to me complaining that they are always fatigued, can’t get up on time, sleep during the day, can’t concentrate. And then you find out that their sleep hours are about five hours. There are all these stories about famous people sleeping four-five hours, but, let’s say, they are superhumans. For ordinary mortals you need seven hours of sleep. Most people complaining of day-time tiredness are not getting their full sleep.
Third is physical activity. I come across people with very long home-to-work commutes every day. Long commutes take away any time for you to do things you like. You also spend less time participating in moderate to vigorous exercise—be it a social experience like aerobics, playing sports, doing yoga or taking solitary walks. But that doesn’t happen. And after dinner there should be a little bit of activity. Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for diseases of the heart, diabetes and stroke.
Finally, food at the workplace. Many companies and organisations now offer food, but usually it’s not healthy. Healthy food means more of fruits and vegetables, less of roti and maida-based stuff. But everything is simple carbs in our life. If you have a lot of high-fibre veggies and multi-
grain bread, that should be good enough. However, in large-scale or community cooking, the dangers of infection with vegetables and salads is very high. The reason why deep-fried food is popular in India is because germs get killed. However, then you are damaging your arteries in the long run. So you have to hit a midway between the risk of infection and the risk of chronic disease to work out a properly-cooked clean food that avoids simple carbohydrates.