Monday, January 27, 2014

My Thoughts on Food and Health

I consider myself an amateur in the culinary world but what I do have is a passion for food and any knowledge that revolves around the topic of gastronomy. We have come a long way from times when food was just about a necessity to times where culinary art and the whole gastronomical experience has become exotic.

While with modern technology and ease of travel we are exposed to a multitude of culinary worlds we are sadly drawn into a terrible plague  of obesity . As per BBC News "one in three people worldwide are now overweight" which is even more ridiculous because no cuisine in its original format is fattening or unhealthy. The problem I suppose is complex and emotional as well as physical. While there are article after article which talk about these issues and encourage people to eat healthy food items the increasing problem of weight is frightening.

I live in a developing world and have never stayed in a developed country. I shall thereby talk about my country, say a third world country which is developing, which has unbelievable extremes be it the whether, the variety of cuisine, the difference in wealth. So while the greater half of my country is undernourished, underfed and dying the ones who can afford healthy food are increasingly becoming the heavyweights of the world. So how does this even work? While elders all over the country blame the western world I personally find that ridiculous. The topic dominates living rooms and office canteens and even restaurants. Before I go on I need to brag a little bit. You see very fortunately I come from a family of extremely healthy people. I myself was perfectly healthy except for some bronchitis when I was young which with proper allopathic medicines had been taken care of. Now my family's health cannot be credited to a healthy heritage as is most often claimed by people who are healthy. They simply take care of themselves and  do not fall prey to problems. So my 86 year old grandmother drinks her warm cup of milk everyday to keep her bones strong and has her share of fruits. Unlike many a widow she did not give up on her protein just because my old grandfather passed away. I have never seen my mother give in to greed and help herself to excessive servings of fattening food.
While my father is otherwise healthy and eats healthy food his greed for red meat and butter has resulted in a tummy which is ultimately his fault. There you go with problem of greed. Now I talked about people whose regular diet does not include fast food which is more appropriately called junk food. In fact if I think carefully all the people whom I know are healthy do not shun away any food item but simply eat the right portions. As per ABC news "Between 1977 and 1996 food portion sizes increased both inside and outside the home for all categories except pizza"

Coming to myself all those years when my diet was in my parents' control I was perfectly healthy. My weight was absolutely fine. I was slim, being attached to sports I was athletic and then came the years of rebellion when I started having tiny then tinier and then the tiniest portions and with continued exercise became thin from slim and then was the phase of suddenly bloating up. Now while over the years my tiny portions had at one point given way to dining out a bit more than I once did what resulted in my increased weight within a very short period was the excessive intake of Morning after pills. Just like most naive beings I had no clue about its after effects if taken in excess till I bloated up and had no idea about the reasons. While the advice were from many and plenty none were correct. Some blamed it on my love for cheese and good food but how would one suddenly bloat up without an increased intake of food. After struggling for over a year and then calming myself and researching a bit I was aghast. I consulted one of the best gynecologist of my city and was alarmed to find out that these Morning After pills which are so widely becoming popular while are very effective as an emergency drug if taken in excess it does have some side effects with weight gain being one of them. Thereby it is called an emergency pill meant for emergencies . While it is a boon for emergencies it cannot be a regular affair. I could not really understand my sudden increase in appetite etc . I  started exercising and followed a healthy diet and lost all that unwanted weight. With a bit more effort I am sure in 6 months I can be slim again.

So with my struggle etc there are a few points I found out all of which have been discussed time and again in different articles. Though I did mostly depend on a lot of fresh salads and soups I had my share of sausages, cakes, pastries etc but the only thing I kept in my mind were portions. That brings me to another point of eating fresh food items and avoiding dining out all the time.

While the more and more we want to explore food from different regions of the world the more the restaurant business if thriving and the more unhealthy we are becoming. i did an experiment with a cake and used the best of the ingredients and then with the help of a few friends we calculated and found out that most good bakeries keep a 300% profit. You see no matter what anyone says it is common sense that restaurants are there to make money. Of course they are tasty but taking care of your health is not what bothers them. So it might say healthy but if has mayonnaise you aren't doing yourself a favour.

Even if we do cook food a good many of us depend excessively on bottled and packaged stuff such as the bottled tomato sauce, the variety of condiments etc all in the name of authenticity not realizing all you need is fresh food items for a healthy life.

So if your pasta asks for some pomodoro sauce don't reach out for that jar of sauce . While i cannot say whether Italian and Indian tomatoes are of the same taste the fresher ones will definitely be healthier if not tastier and believe me it will be superbly tasty as well. Here is a link for Serving portions. If this is followed along with just a bit of exercise say just walking 5 km for an hour nothing will stop you from keeping fit and being a hit.

In case you feel a bit heavy just eat seasonal fruits. Why will you want some stored musty fruit when there are plenty of the seasonal stuff. Do not give into emotional thoughts such as "without rice a meal is not complete" Search a bit for yourself and you shall know that if you do have potatoes its alright to give rice a miss. Do not make silly jokes such as "these fresh fruits are for nuts" you are ding yourself no favour by gulping down bowls of rice pudding or slices of pastries or bowls of "clarified soaked halwas" That does not mean you cannot indulge once in a while. If you eat right 5 days of a week and eat small portions of food which is unhealthy per se and fattening it wouldn't really make you fat.

You don't need a fortune to make good food from varied cuisines. Try reading a bit and you will be amazed to find so many recipes from so many cuisines all over the world which uses ingredients which are available at your local market but that does not mean that substitutes can be passed on as the real deal which I shall write about in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written. Often getting greedy with food can hurt a lot.