Many people have written about how to minimize stress in our lives. They have written books, and they have given speeches. I am not the first one to talk about it. But as a mother, wife, and self-motivated individual who dealt with many different varieties of stress — both at home and at work, I can offer you some advice as to how some changes in your food and lifestyle can help you relieve anxiety and stress, and live a healthier and happier life.
Of course, I am not a medical doctor, or not even a trained psychological counselor. My advice is an ordinary person’s advice — suggestions from someone who experimented with food and lifestyle changes herself, and found positive results. If you have professional medical or psychological needs, get help from a doctor or professional counselors.
I am writing a few points here, in a brief and bullet-point manner — to highlight the changes I am suggesting. Some of the suggestions may seem mundane, and some others may seem more important or significant, depending on your education, knowledge, or point of view.
Eat a healthy breakfast. — Of course, we all know the importance of a good breakfast. But what is a healthy breakfast? I would avoid run-of-the-mill, supermarket-variety boxed cereal and carbohydrates. Many people argue that boxed cereals are not even manufactured for human consumption.
Savorylotus.com, for example, says: “…sorry, cereal is not REAL food. It is a food product. And unfortunately is not fit for human consumption. It’s time to ditch the breakfast cereals.” As the article says, breakfast cereals are loaded with GMO’s, and the synthetic vitamins and minerals added to the cereals are often useless, as they are processed to an extent that destroys their properties, or even makes them toxic.
So, what is a healthy breakfast? — If possible, use organic, chemical-free, multi-grain bread, or make hand-made bread (roti or chapati Indian style — which I make for my cooking classes regularly for my students, and they love it), and instead of using factory-made margarine, cheese or butter, use homemade milk products such as cottage cheese or Indian paneer. Fresh, organic fruits are definitely happy alternatives to supermarket fruits that often use ripening or preserving chemicals, or even dyes. For our Indian household, we cook a vegetable curry the night before, and it makes a wonderful dish to go with the Roti for morning breakfast. A glass of milk or fresh fruit juice would supplement the healthy breakfast.
Take the lunch to work.— Of course, a busy life and work schedule does not allow us to cook at home all the time. Yet, having done just that for a very long time — both as a mother and wife as well as a 9-5 worker myself — I can’t emphasize enough how a lunch from home can help you keep healthy. Food especially from big-name fast food places are definitely not a good recipe for good health.
This article from Eat This, Not That, 17 Seriously Scary Side Effects of Eating Fast Food says “in many cases, fast food is highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium. … And when fast food frequently replaces nutritious whole foods in your diet, it can lead to all sorts of bad health outcomes. Derailing your weight loss goals is just one.”
I have always cooked food perhaps twice or three times a week, and used it for my family over the entire week. A little bit of basmati rice, with a cup of red lentil (dal), a flavorful vegetable curry, or a lamb or chicken curry (sometimes a boneless fish like flounder, tilapia or salmon), as well as egg salad sandwiches — have made great lunch box items both for myself, and my family. Eating food cooked at home during lunchtime, as opposed to eating food you don’t even know who made it and how it was made — always makes a big difference to the state of your mind. Try it: you’ll find the difference very soon.
Finally, another much-talked-about obvious: do not eat your dinner too late. — People who do not have time to do any exercise, an early dinner followed by a short rest, and then followed up by a brisk walk can help you digest your food, and make you relaxed to go to bed to have a good night’s sleep. Do not be engaged with activities before bedtime that will make your brain too tired and overwhelmed: tax questions or a difficult online game of chess is perhaps not the best way to relax your mind, when you want to go to bed. A cup of coffee or strong tea, or liquors just before bedtime is definitely not advisable. You need a rested stomach, as well as a rested brain, when you finally have time to have some serious rest. This is the time when you body and mind asks for relaxation. Looking at that computer screen, or your cell phone screen all day long tires your eyes. Your fingers are tired typing all day long. Your legs are tired walking on the street, up and down the train station stairs, or pressing that gas pedal and clutch in your car. Your mouth is tired talking. Even your ears are tired listening to good, bad, and stressful words all day long. Give all of them a good night’s rest.
Some small but significant lifestyle food habit changes could make you a stress-relieved, happier, healthier person.
Good luck, and best wishes.
Chana Masala Recipe
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 red chili
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon grated coconut
- 1 small red onion, chopped, save some raw for garnish
- One inch fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 2 teaspoons cumin, coriander, and red chili powder
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (2 cups canned, drained)
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- In a clean pan add oil and let it heat. Add red chili, cumin, and bay leaf.
- Add coconut and fry until turned into a brown texture. Add chopped red onion and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Add the ginger, garlic, and tomato and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add 1 teaspoon of cumin-coriander-red chili powder and turmeric powder.
- Add boiled chickpeas and about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (or water). Cook until the masala separates from the oil for about 15 minutes.
- At the end, add some more cumin-coriander-red chili spice mix and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves, chopped onion, and lime juice.