Recently I'd been having a lot of problems with my energy levels - I was coming home after work feeling completely exhausted and needing to nap, which is unusual for me. At first I attributed the energy drain to the insane hot weather, but I've been through a few Delhi summers and never faced a similar problem before. So I decided to make some changes to my diet and see if anything I was eating was affecting it - turns out, improving what I eat has made a huge difference!
I usually eat well, but not always 'clean' - plenty of sugar and processed foods creep into my diet regularly. I decided to omit a lot of not-so-great foods, most of which were indulgences anyway. It's been over a month now of altering my diet, and the results have been great - my energy levels are up, my mood tends to be better, and my skin problems have calmed down a bit. I started by giving up wheat, cutting out products like cereal, rotis and bread. I also started adding in more fresh produce and a wider, more colorful range of fruits and vegetables. And I'm currently avoiding processed foods, and have drastically reduced my consumption of meat, dairy, and sugar.
This is what my pantry currently looks like, more or less, with of course a lot more fresh produce (I usually try to buy fresh things every few days, convenient when I live right by a bunch of produce shops and fruit stalls). To break it down:
Carbs: I've always preferred rice over roti, so it wasn't that hard to cut wheat out. I try to avoid white rice when possible - Kerala red rice and short grain brown rice are my favorites. I also love quinoa. In place of cereal, I've been enjoying gluten-free puffed amaranth muesli, usually with some coconut milk and honey.
Protein: I'm still eating chicken and fish on occasion, though contemplating cutting meat out for a while as I have noticed my skin looks much clearer when I eat less. Otherwise, I'm having lots of nuts (raw almonds and cashews), nut butter (natural, not Skippy!), chia seeds, plain soy milk (in moderation), homemade almond milk (when I get time to make it!), and eggs. I've cut out dairy products entirely.
Sugar: all refined white sugar, brown sugar, jaggery, etc. is a no. I'm using raw honey for anything I want to sweeten, and having dates in place of after-meal sweets.
Fat: Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil has been my mainstay for some time. I use it to cook pretty much everything, and sometimes even take a straight spoonful to supplement. It's high in lauric acid and great for the skin, metabolism, etc.
Seasoning: Bragg's Liquid Aminos is my go-to for making stir fries and seasoning cooked quinoa. And I use Himalaya pink salt, as it has more trace minerals than regular table salt. I also have locally made miso paste which I use in various ways in cooking.
Outside of the chia seeds, which I carried with me from the US, all of these products were purchased in Delhi. Not all are the most reasonably priced as many are imported, but I justify it by diverting money that I'd otherwise spend on meals at restaurants or drinks. Here's where I shop:
Raw honey, Bragg's liquid aminos, gluten-free amaranth muesli: the Kirana Shop in Meharchand Market
Natural nut butter, quinoa, virgin coconut oil: Altitude, also in Meharchand Market
Raw nuts: easy to find in my local marketHimalaya pink salt: found at La Marche
Kerala red rice: Big Bazaar or the Tamil Nadu store in INA market
Brown rice: La Marche
Dates: Kunafa (Meharchand) or Bateel (DLF Promenade)
Soy milk: available most places now! I get it in my local market shop
Fresh lettuce: I love salad, but getting decent, non-wilted lettuce isn't the easiest. Food Bazaar at Citywalk has really good, fresh lettuce most of the time. There's also rawleaf.in, a home delivery service for greens that friends have been raving about.
I'll do a follow-up post soon with some more on what my typical 'day in food' looks like, and recipes!