Being Indian : We are what we eat, or is it the other way round?

We grow up watching American TV, right from Cartoon Network and Disney Channel, to Friends and Game of Thrones, listening to western music, reading English literature, falling in love with Hollywood idols, following their world, their tabloids, keeping up with their lifestyles, their designers, their diets, and their standards. This whole phenomenon leads us to somehow end up as Desi born confused souls trying to lead the American life. (Shoutout to America’s PR agency).

Caught up in the virtual reality of their world, we, more often than not, tend forget our roots, studded in the most culturally abundant country on the planet. We, as a country, have a perennial stash of art, music, fashion, food, idols (and men, hopefully, maybe), to pursue.

Starting a rant to bring back to life the INDIAN within us, to ignite our inner heritage, would possibly take more time than one usually has, that along with atleast a million blog posts, and youtube videos, and Instagram captions, and Twitter wars. But that said, we must begin this journey somewhere, so here begins mine, ( and yours, dear readers 🙂 ).

Lets start with the one thing that ties us all together, our one common, true love, interest, and source of happiness : Food.

Looking at “a day in the life of (insert name of famous celebrity)”, watching reality TV, and reading Cosmo, has taught us all soy milk over milk, gluten free over bread, brown over white (bread/rice/pasta), zero fat over fat, no carbs after 6pm, and the list goes on. Resulting in us forgetting how our ancestors, for generations, have lived perfectly healthy lives without having to go through crash diets, without cutting down of certain foods, and without protein shakes and supplements.

The Indian food system, or the traditional ways of eating, were developed, with sheer simplicity and sensibility, taking into account our weather and environment conditions, food seasons, and the energy our bodies need to function effectively and wholesome-ly. To keep this short (comparatively), and simple, I’ll make this a common myth busting list. Here goes :

1. “Ghee is fattening” : Ghee is 100% butterfat golden, flavorful, nutrient-rich butterfat. Butter contains primarily butterfat, but also milk proteins and water. Thus making ghee a lactose free, casein free form of saturated fat, that not only provides nutrients (Vitamin A,CLA, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, good cholesterol) but also acts as a fat burning agent.

2. “Brown rice over White rice”: To be put simply, white rice has the optimum amount of fibre that our body can easily digest, unlike brown rice which is a source of higher amounts of fibre, making it harder to digest. White rice is also considered “light food”, making it the first supplement given to babies learning to eat solids.

3. “Devoid yourself of salt and sugar” : The easy thing to remember, as put by Rujuta Diwekar, is that salt or sugar is perfectly fine as long as it’s coming from your own house, added as per your preference, as opposed to inside packaged foods, combined with preservatives and such add-ons.

4. “The Dairy free life” : To begin with, do not fall for the enigma of “fat free”, “diet”, “zero-fat”, in case of all and every thing, and even so in case of dairy. The options of low fat/slim milk, is just milk without it’s primary nutritive qualities. Fresh, organic milk, is just as nutritive as soy/almond milk, with the added benefits of fat burners, and acids like CLA, that help mobilise stubborn fat, and gives you shiny skin.

5. “The Glutten free life” : With the exception of people allergic to wheat, bread isn’t the monster. Maida (Refined flour) although not to be dismissed as unhealthy, isn’t the best option when consumed on a daily basis. Which is why, even historically, rotis or chapatis, made out of wheat were considered a part of the daily diet, and not puris or batoras, that are made of maida. Similarly even in bread, the options of whole wheat bread is always better than it’s white counterpart.

Clarifying these, we have a pattern if you would notice, the food we ate before the whole regime of “Western influences” kicked in, is what is good for us, at the end of the day. I’m not saying soy or avocados or quinoa is bad. But those are foods that aren’t vernacular to us, and thus, to our bodies.
The basic thumb rules to remember when choosing what to eat are:

1. Always choose local food, as local as you can go. Grow food in your backyard if you can, if not buy from the nearest farmer’s market.

And 2. Do not restrict your body from anything, just as long as it’s in just the right quantity. 

We often forget to listen to our bodies. Certain foods tend to make you feel heavy, or lethargic, and some make you feel light and active; each body makes it’s own rules. So listen to what your body is telling you, in the form of moods, and symptoms, and respond explicating the same.

Also, ultimately, it’s never going to be about how thin or fat you are, it’s about how fit you feel from the inside.
So stay healthy, stay fit, and stay away from mosquitoes!

Until next time

 

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