Many of us struggle with what we eat – the type, the time, the quantity and so on. We tend to eat whenever we want, eat foods that are processed and heavy, and eat without mindfulness. We often stay hungry for long hours and then eat like there’s no tomorrow, or simply eat whenever food’s available. All this leads to poor nutrition, weight gain, diseases and lack of energy. Eating healthy requires discipline. It can be difficult in the beginning, but it has immense benefits.

Here are some ways that can help you start your journey towards eating mindfully:

Avoid snacking: Every time you mindlessly reach for a bag of chips or an extra cookie, stop yourself and think whether you are really hungry. Usually it could be just thirst and a glass of water does the trick. If you really need to eat, look for healthier snack options like fruits, nuts, brown bread sandwich or a fresh fruit smoothie.

Buying your grocery: Fail to plan is a plan to fail. Plan your buy and don’t do haphazard shopping. Learn to look for healthier alternatives when buying your grocery; include more of lean meats, fish, brown rice, full grain breads and flour, seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits. Stay away from

sugar, salt and preservatives.

Portion control: There is an old wise Nepali saying that if you eat moderately it turns to energy and vigour and eating more creates waste and depletion (Dherai khaye mal, thorai khaye bal). Eat sensible sized portions. More vegetables, daal, salads, saag and less of rice, meat and fried foods are a good way to begin. Don’t starve yourself: You will start bingeing if you do this. Eat a little of everything, but make sensible choices.

Enjoy colour on your plate: The more colour on your plate, the healthier the foods. Try new fruits and vegetable combinations. The different colours in your fruits and vegetables represent different nutrients. Feed your body as many varieties as possible as these increase your immunity towards colds and a host of other illnesses.

Schedule meals: Don’t skip meals. Meal times should be adhered to perfection. Starving yourself or eating in a rush causes more harm than good. A lot of people skip breakfast and lunch on a busy day and then eat towards 4 or 5 pm followed again by dinner soon after. There is a sudden overload on the stomach from empty all day to beyond full towards the night. This leads to indigestion and stresses the body. If you eat throughout the day – four to five small meals - you keep your metabolism revving and are able to burn more calories. Ensure that you do not eat anything at least 2-3 hours before bed.

YOU are what you eat: Know that changing your eating habits and your food pattern is not about going on a diet, it is about balance and listening to your body….being responsible to nourish and nurture your whole being. Each one of us needs to make lifestyle choices that are individual to us. Your goal is to make the right food decisions as much as possible. It can happen one meal at a time!

Exercise: Ensure that you get some exercise everyday – 30 minutes is all it takes towards a healthier, fitter and stronger YOU.

The author is a certified professional fitness instructor, founder and master trainer at Rage Fitness and a fitness columnist who specialises in mixed martial arts