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Indian foods have always resonated with fragrance and flavours. It is considered to be one of the most diverse and popular foods in the world. Indian meals consist of different types of vegetables, pulses, rice, corn, wheat, seasonal fruits and nuts. It is truly diversified and healthy in all ways. An average Indian diet, balanced in different food groups is adequate to provide healthy nutrition.
Despite the fact that our Indian meals are balanced and comprise Ayurvedic principles of eating which are considered healthy for us, issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart ailments are seen to be on a steady rise in current times. India is also touted as the diabetes capital of the world. A study done by Lancet concluded that Indians tend to consume more of carbohydrates, sugar, less of protein and plant protein than what is recommended for a sample adult population base, despite having access to multiple dietary sources.
Emergence of high cholesterol, high lipids, PCOS PCOD, increased incidence of arthritis, strokes and blood pressure has led to a new culture named as diet culture, specially in affluent parts of the country. Diet culture involves a rigid set of beliefs and expectations about one’s body, body image, preoccupation with weight and physical appearance. It devalues ones emotional well-being and mental state.
Constant exposure to social media, peer pressure and the desire to be the best are factors responsible for this emerging trend. Diet culture distinguishes all foods into categories of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. It can also include excessive and obsessive conversations about calories, hard workouts, or even guilt of consuming some foods.
Diet culture is toxic, and it can be a risk factor for developing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating disorder. It could also lead to low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and stress over eating habits.
In order to have a healthy relationship with food and one’s body, it is absolutely essential that we do not fall prey to any fad diets, diet culture or the pressure of looking thin and solely work upon our habits and be more mindful.
In order to lose or gain weight or manage any medical issue, some change is always required in ones eating habits and workout pattern. A fixed or a strict diet can be followed for a short duration to overcome a particular health issue. However, in the long run what we need is persistence and development of healthy habits which could help in leading a disease free life.
So, where does the problem lie? How do we know if we are consuming a healthy diet?
Does rice or chapati predominate your meal size or is it vegetables and pulses? Ideally you can divide your plate into 4 parts. One part should be including rice/chapatti, 2 parts with cooked/raw vegetables and the remaining one part with legumes/dals.
Are you consuming more than 1 cup of tea/coffee/milk with added sugar? Or having large portions of processed foods with sugar like pastries, cakes, doughnuts very often? Sugar is highly processed and has no nutritional value apart from providing just empty calories. Replace sugar with cinnamon, cardamom powder or organic stevia to cut down on excess calories.
What about hidden salt? All processed foods like breads, buns, rusks, namkeens, chips, packaged soups, curries, and masalas are extremely high in salt. The World Health Organization recommends not more than 5 gms of salt/day. In the current scenario the hidden salt in an average day is around 15gms. So, it’s high time to realize and limit the intake.
Are you relying on packaged condiments and spices or do you use more of fresh herbs and roots to spice up your food? Make use of fresh coriander, mint, kadi patta, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and cardamom to spice your food and get an extra dose of helpful antioxidants in your diet. It will help to build a strong immune system.
Also, Read: 8 Ayurveda thumbrules to remember for your diet
Our indigenous fruits are much higher in antioxidants that the expensive imported fruits. For instance, 100 gm of kiwi provides you roughly 90mg of vitamin C, whereas the desi amla aka the Indian Gooseberry can give you around 300mg of vitamin C/100 gm. Explore the local market for your diet and you will be surprised to see the abundance of greens in this season. Sarson, bathua, methi, palak are all seasonal leafy vegetables that can level up your health quotient.
Experiment with much healthier age old millets like bajra, ragi, and jowar in your diet. For starting to build up taste, you can use 50:50 ratio of any of these fibre and protein rich fours with traditional wheat atta.
Additionally, keep a check on your junk and refined food intake. Experiment with healthy ingredients and go for more of home-made version of street foods!