Simply put, with lack of sleep, there is a higher chance of overeating, binge eating and making unhealthy food choices. Studies have shown that chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and higher waist circumference.
This month, Nutritionist Dr. Nikita Suresh, Ph.D, a wellness coach and Fit India Ambassador on a mission to educate and motivate people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, shares some nuggets of wisdom with Wakefit. Talking about her journey as a health coach, Nikita reveals that it started off with a desire to improve her own health. “Prior to 2010, I had been overweight by more than 10kgs. I then began to work out regularly with the primary aim of losing weight. During this journey, I decided to become a Zumba fitness instructor to inspire others to start exercising,” she says. At this point, Nikita was studying nutrition in Mount Carmel College. “The knowledge gained in this field helped me understand that the primary aim of exercising and consuming a proper diet should be to develop good health and not merely for weight loss”, Nikita adds. With this newly acquired perspective, Nikita decided to become a nutritionist and help others improve their lives too.
Talking to us about her personal philosophy of subscribing to a holistic lifestyle, Nikita shares her equation for good living as:
Since good sleep is a big part of this equation, we asked Nikita her thoughts on the relationship between sleep and food. Talking about the strong connection, she says that if one were to put it simply, lack of sleep results in a higher risk of binge-eating and making unhealthy food choices. “Studies have shown that chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and higher waist circumference,” she cites. It is a vicious cycle because poor food choices, coupled with irregular food times contribute to poor sleep, Nikita adds.
Many people love snacking before bed. Nikita, however, recommends refraining from food at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. If you are really hungry or stressed, she suggests brewing a cup of chamomile tea for yourself. An alternative, she says, is a glass of milk with turmeric. One can include magnesium rich foods such as bananas, tender coconut water and almonds as these are food for good sleep, Nikita advises. Having said that, she reiterates that it is best not to consume food a couple of hours before hitting the sack.
Foods that you must avoid before bed which do the opposite of what sleep inducing foods do include, heavy meals with unhealthy high calorie, junk foods and foods that are high in sugar, such as sugary drinks and desserts. Nikita also stresses on avoiding caffeine and alcohol closer to bedtime.
We at Wakefit design every product with the idea that a good sleep environment is essential for good living. Some of the practices that Nikita swears by when creating her ideal sleep environment include limiting her screen time before bed, creating a peaceful ambiance by dimming lights and ensuring proper ventilation. She cannot stress enough how important a comfortable bed is to ensure healthy sleep. For better sleep, Nikita also suggests soaking some sun during the day by incorporating outdoor workouts as part of your exercise routine.
With the pandemic being the new normal, working on strengthening one’s immune system has become more necessary than ever before. Nikita advises that one maintain a healthy diet, good hydration, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and low stress levels. “It is beneficial to consume foods rich in Vitamin C such as amla and oranges. Include ingredients such as turmeric, pepper, ginger and a wide variety of spices while cooking,” she adds when sharing her nutrition tips. According to Nikita, some bad food habits to steer away from include under-eating vegetables, in particular green leafy vegetables, low intake of fruits, lack of water intake and making dinner the heaviest meal of the day. Also, skipping meals to lose weight and overeating nuts because nuts are considered ‘healthy’, are myths that one is better off without.
As a parting gift to our readers, Nikita has also shared one of her favourite recipes with us:
A simple kashaya for good sleep and general well-being (serves 2)
- Pound peppercorns and cardamom until powdered
- Grate fresh turmeric
- Boil half cup of water and add 1.5tsp grated fresh turmeric
- As the water is slowly boiling, add the powdered peppercorns and cardamom
- To this, add 1.5 cup of milk
- As the milk turns frothy, remove from flame and allow it to cool
- Add 1tsp of honey, mix well, strain and serve
Quick-fire questions with Nikita!
- What is your favourite thing to do before bed?
Play with my dog. A perfect stress buster!
- Last movie you watched that put you to sleep instantly.
- What are the most common diet tips everyone wants from a nutritionist?
“How to lose belly fat?”
- What do you do when you are not feeling motivated enough to work out?
Immediately get into my workout gear
You can connect with Dr. Nikita Suresh on instagram @nikynutrition.