Monday, February 27, 2006

Diet!

Getting to the heart of Asian health caught my attention recently. I appreciate Dr Rubeen Gujral's effort to bring heart health awareness to the Asians but a few thoughts cross my mind. Why is our traditional diet blamed all the time? The article often mentions "traditional fat rich diet", "fat rich ghee, used in much South Asian cooking". Isn't that a little too much? Isn't ghee an expensive/luxurious item(or atleast in those days!) and used sparingly by the average Indian family? There is even a famous dialogue in some old Sivaji movie, "rasamallaa neiyakkam!" Not everyone eats samosas and vadas on a daily basis. Whatever one eats gets burnt even faster with the amount of running (to catch a bus/train!) and walking they do in India, anyway!

My husband's granny often used to say 'nalla saapadanam, nalla velai seiyanam'(placing a plate full of delicious gulab jamuns in front!)! True, in her days, people did hard labour or walked miles and burnt all the extra calories. Every day life was so woven around different physical activities. Delicacies were prepared on special occasion days.

'Alavukku minjinaal, amirdhamum visham' is a known fact. In a way, the money factor helped limit the things we ate, bought etc. But now with changing life conditions, the money power, I think, self-control is getting pushed aside! One of my friend used to have 'Snickers' or other chocolate bars for lunch and when it started showing in the weight scale, blamed the traditional South Indian Rice staple diet!

11 comments:

Neets said...

see, gujjus have very oily preparations... it reflects in their weight problem too. in the times of our grandparents, its the same 'starch saturated food' thats helped them live such long and mostly healthy life. i think we all, the last two generations severely lack any physical activity. There are other factiors- the geographical, location, climate, etc. Eating generous servings of cheese and butter in italy is ok- th ebody assimilates. similarily, cocunut oil intake in kerala- people dont seem to have the kind of heart problems that the medical studies project. i am not a doc... but this is what i feel. :) nice blog :)

Munimma said...

It is all about portion control. Eat what your body needs. But then we do tend to be lead by our tongue. Not easy to control that.
Those days, food was not heavily processed and the work was done by your body. Not the case nowadays. But we can help by changing our eating habits accordingly. Go for brown rice instead of white. It takes time to get used to, but we can do it. Whole fruits instead of juice. Don't fry, bake or saute.
Now if only I can find a substitute for chocolate, I will do fine ;-)

NaiKutti said...

i think it is kind of misplaced when the author Rubeen talks abt. south asian food ... probably he is right, if we eat the kind of south asian food he mentions while we work with the comfort of car, a/c, lift, etc., and don't physically strain ourselves... but most people in south asia are not obese and it is attributed to the fact of walking miles to work... in developed countries, this (walking etc.,) is not always happening except in some european countries where people do cycling to work and hence they tend to be more obese... and now in developing countries too, this is changing coz of the developing economy and soon we shld be finding more obese people here too...

LOL at ur snickers example :-)... its not the snickers or the rice, its lack of physical exercise i guess :-)...

Me too said...

Neets, welcome and thanks! You are right about the other factors. Every cuisine utilises the ingredients that are special, abundant in that region. We are ready to give up everything to go abroad but not the food!! ;)

Munimma, you are right! If one cannot limit portion size then substitute!! Saw this chocolatey news today(ungalukkagave potta maadhiri!) :)

Karthik, what irked me is that the article seemed to point its fingers a little too much on our cuisine. Every cuisine has simple foods and special delicacies. Just b'cos one is wealthy enough to make bad food choices and eat delicacies all the time and ape the partying, driving around in 4(or more!) wheelers westerners, then be prepared to share their illnesses too!

Deepa said...

Most asian foods are carb-high like rice, wheat etc. Unburned carb easily turns into fat. Maybe thats whay they mean when they say fat-rich Indian food. What say you?

I said...

Rice can be instantly converted into sugar. So when u eat rice, u always tend to overeat or till u feel 'full'.

so rice is not the healthiest of foods, really.

Raju said...

Very good post. What your hubby's nanny said was the most apt. Even if you consume rice/rice items three times a day, working appropriately would not put weight. And, even if one consumes chappathi/bread three times a day, idleness can cause tummy growth. True, rice has a faster metabolic rate than wheat, but what kind of food we eat and how much of that has a big role to play as well. How many of oversized/obese Americans consume rice regularly?

Me too said...

Deepa, don't whole grain foods form the main course of any cuisine(this group features at the bottom of the food pyramid too, isn't it)?

SS, any food for that matter is not good if ate in excess. I have heard that it is good practice to stop when one feels half full and that we can do, isn't it? Starch rich foods give instant energy(which was ofcourse needed in the bygone days to do physically exerting work). Like rice, potato is full of starch too. Why don't people give up fries/chips?

Raju, exactly! That bag of rice/wheat if we walk(take the public transport!!) to the grocery store to buy would digest it!! :)

I said...

adhu seri. for that matter u can have a Double Big Mac, jumbo fries, supersized coke and extra cheese, 3 times a day. And work out to break even.

The problem is- we can't or don't expend what we eat. its a lot better tailoring the diet to suit ur activity, rather than the other way around.

BTW, if u wanna lose weight really quick without much effort, the Atkins diet really works! At least for me.

Me too said...

mt, "adhu seri. for that matter u can have a Double Big Mac, jumbo fries, supersized coke and extra cheese, 3 times a day. And work out to break even" - ROTFL!

I am not trying to be brand ambassador/PRO for Asian food/rice!

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