Habits are formed over a period of time. When we do a certain thing regularly everyday without failure, it becomes a habit. A habit could be a bad habit like smoking or a good habit like jogging every morning. It is easy to get into a bad habit because it needs no effort. That is why we find many health problems in the world today.
Here is the good news - a good habit is as easy as the bad habit to acquire. And once it becomes a habit, we will find that it is easy to carry on doing it. A habit takes approximately 42 days to form, which means that if we can adopt a discipline for 6 weeks it becomes a habit and will be there to stay. We need to regularly keep adopting good habits one after the other, otherwise mind will choose the easy way and start adopting bad ones. So, if we have a systematic way of adopting good habits every 6 weeks, mind will get used to it and give up adopting bad habits.
The focus here is to use this habit formation systematically and use it to improve our health. As mentioned, let us do it one at a time. Too many at a time is a recipe for failure. Every six weeks let us adopt one good health habit and we will find that our health improvements will be substantial over a period of time. I have adopted these over the last few years and have achieved significant success. Many of the habits below may be familiar to us. Making them a habit is what counts.
1) Eating on time - This topic may have more said about it than any other. However, this is a single key component of a health strategy which will ensure success. It is important to note that a healthy breakfast is important by 8 A.M. Fruits are the best early in the morning which when taken on empty stomach helps in eliminating toxins from the body. The metabolic process in the body is functioning at its best between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. And this is the best time to eat LUNCH. The ideal time is between 12 noon and 12.30 P.M. when we can digest anything that we eat. And lunch should preferably be the largest meal of the day. And what to eat? We will find millions of literature on balanced diet and I am not qualified to comment on that subject. Dinner should be taken early preferably before 7 P.M. because metabolic activity in the body becomes mild thereafter. And if we are feeling hungry in between have healthy stuff to eat. The most important thing is that we should not eat anything after 10 P.M., not even drink water if possible. This is because between 10 P.M. and 2 A.M. reverse metabolism takes place in the body and that is the time when the organs cleanses the body of toxins and does all that is necessary to keep our body healthy. Any intake during this period interrupts with this mechanism causing health problems. It is preferable to be in bed by this time.
2) Drinking water – This is another subject which needs habit formation. There are a host of things that we do wrong on this subject but again habit formation could change it all over a period of time. The most important is to drink lukewarm water or room temperature water. Cold water is the enemy of digestion as it freezes the fats throughout the body systems forming fat linings internally leading to various diseases. We should not drink water 30 minutes before, during and 30 minutes after any meal. The simple reason is that as we are ready for a meal, digestive juices are formed which is the essential element in digesting food. Water during this period dilutes the digestive juices inevitably leading to lower levels of digestion.
3) Regular consumption of ‘Wonder Spices’ – There are wonder spices which according to Ayurveda gives excellent benefits if consumed regularly. Again there is enough literature on this subject and we can verify them and get information. There are dozens of such spices but the ones which give major health benefits are Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, Oregano and Turmeric. We can adopt using these in various ways depending on our food habits. I add a spoon of Cinnamon or Turmeric powder to my Green tea every day. I have a Garlic/Ginger pickle which I use during either lunch or dinner at least 4 times a week and I use Oregano with my Sandwich during breakfast at least twice a week
4) Fruit Diet / Fasting – Our body works 24 hours a day, particularly our digestive system which consists of liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines and the other connected organs. Like we take our car for service, we need to service our body on a regular basis. There are two good ways to do it. One is to go on a ‘Fruit Diet’ say at least once a quarter for a 3 day period. Eat only fruits for 3 days. This flushes out all the toxins from the body and gives necessary nutrients and will make our body light. No restriction on the quantity of fruits. Better to eat one type of fruit per meal eg. Bananas for breakfast, Apple for lunch etc.
Another important thing for servicing the body is to fast. Fasting is recommended in almost all religions. Whether we are religious or not, fasting does wonders to the body and the benefits are immense. We need to fast for a period of 20 hours to give a complete rest to our organs. It takes about 18 hours for the most complex food to pass through our entire digestive tract and hence fasting for 20 hours gives complete rest to the entire system. It is better to fast at least once a month. It is up to each one of us to derive our own timing to fast but I find it convenient to have lunch at 12 noon on Sunday and then fast for 20 hours up to 8 A.M. on Monday.
The above habits will definitely change our health for the better. There are many other habits which will help our health as we age but that I will leave for another day.
Happy health habit formation and best wishes for a long healthy life!