I am not writing here about the list of health foods for all and their benefits. There are any number of websites and publications that address all kinds of health foods, and I keep seeing a number of articles in local news media in India, as India is developing a fascination for such health aspects of life at the affluent community level. People seem to be worried about their health, and the number of heart-attack and diabetes patients at the sub-30 age level is fast increasing causing fears in the minds of the younger generation.
I thought that we should start following good eating habits right from the young age. I am on the losing side of this fight even with my own kids who are ardent junk food eaters. I am not able to wean them away from the McDonalds and KFC. I won the fight against the bad sugary soft drinks though only partially. These are now banned at home, though I cannot stop them from consuming these bad stuff outside home when they are on their own.
It is hard to avoid eating rice in India. I have almost completely stopped, except for certain occasions. The combination of rice and fragrant ghee (melted and heated butter oil – don’t know how to describe it better) is the reason why we put on weight and it is also bad for the heart. Both rice and ghee are out from my food for a long, long time. The best is wheat and that too without adding butter to make the chappathi or naan fluffy to eat. I know that even here a tough looking naan won’t be acceptable at home, but I try to get a variation done for me somehow. At restaurants, they often cheat you when you order a “plain” roti or tandoori naan and then go on to specify you want to have it without butter. They just cannot do that and deliver to you in the way you desire. So, whenever I go to restaurants, I eat even less – I prefer to order rotis and some vegetables. Now comes the vegetables – all the curries in the restaurants have butter for their smooth texture and creaminess. So one has to consume less of this stuff. At home of course we can make dry vegetables with some spicy masala and that would taste great. One needs vegetables for sure, but without the extra addition of butter on top of it which will have a bad and long-standing effect on one’s health. You won’t be able to fix the damage later on, despite what you hear to the contrary in the health media.
Completely avoid the sugary soft drinks. Banish them altogether. Do not order mocktails at the restaurants, they almost always have sugar and bad alcohol. The restaurants do not like patrons who avoid drinks, even if the customer is a tee-totaller. The fact is that they make more money on drinks as compared to food.
Lots of nuts – almonds, walnuts – and lots of fruits – pomegranate, apples, kiwi fruit, pears, blueberry, peach and the like – will be great to have for anyone. There is no hard and fast prescription. Keep eating fruits and nuts as long as you do not have medical conditions which might preclude these food items. Unfortunately, fast food snacks have taken over our evenings – the samosas, fried chicken, masala peanuts and the like – which are really bad for the heart. Avoid all fried substances, banish them. I know it is really hard to do all this stuff, but given the way our lifestyles have changed, do we have a “bad” and at the same time “good” alternative ? Anything which tastes great is not necessarily bad, though often they are !
Enjoy healthy food, but check with your doctor always before you change your regular food habits, and mind your BMI (Body Mass Index) and your waist line. Better to be healthy than to be sorry later in life or even in the near term as it is happening increasingly in India.
3rd July 2011