Like most Desi mothers, my visiting mother-in-law took over most of the cooking responsibility while she stayed here. My husband was delighted about getting to eat his mom’s cooking again! And I was pleased (touched, actually!) for her readiness to eat entirely plant-based, just like the two of us eat.
That meant she had no ZERO access to ghee, buttermilk, and curd in our house – that stuff isn’t even shopped for! But she willingly came aboard. Fast forward six months, mom has gone back, and here we are, savoring memories of her cooking and fun mealtimes we enjoyed together. Think baingan bharta and rotis, puliyogre with vegan thayir pachdi vegetable sevai with coconut chutney .. yum!
And since I’ve gone back to being the Chef-In-Chief, old ways of eating are on again. Baingan bharta is back to being oil-free. Rotis are now zero-oil store-bought tortillas. Puliyogre has not yet been made, and vegetable salad – minus the vegan curd – is there e-v-e–r-y day. Oh, and vegetable sevai now doesn’t come with coconut chutney anymore!
My husband studiously looks at the food, takes a bite and wonders aloud, “we’re still well within the limits of ideal body weight, we don’t qualify as even being fat, why the hell are we SO scared of using oil and nuts?”
Hmm, isn’t that a fantastic question. I bet you may have thought it too. I know a part of me still toys with this question when I see some of my favorite fried foods!
Here’s what the research says about it –
What we eat hugely determines how long we’re going to live (longevity)
It also determines whether or not we’re going to die of disease and disability (quality)
And this is true regardless of whether you are thin, bulky, or well within the healthy range of weight for your height.
In our desperation to cling to the foods we like, we make fundamental errors in understanding the basics of Nutrition. This happens not just with laypeople, it occurs even with health freaks. It happens even with vegan people!
And many times, it’s unfortunately seen even in trained professionals. Sad but true. Somehow, we’ve gotten to believe that only calories matter to our health, excluding everything else there is to Nutrition!
So, how does this belief or “understanding” play out?
Examples – “Reasoning”:
1. Low-fat cheese or paneer sandwich made from brown bread and skimmed milk smoothie/coffee/tea – cheese or paneer is labeled low fat, brown bread is rich in fiber, and the beverage contains low fat skimmed milk – all well under 400-ish calories, therefore “healthy.”
2. One boiled egg and water – a plain boiled egg is a maximum of about 100 calories, no salt, no oil, not even pepper – very, very “healthy.”
3. Only ONE gobi paratha and simla mirch tomato sabji – made with whole wheat flour. No starchy vegetables like potato or anything, sabji is made of simla mirch and tomato. Again, watery vegetables, using only about 3 tbsp of virgin olive oil in all. Completely vegan, therefore, “healthy.”
4. Skipping a meal or multiple meals and going back to eating one of the example meals described above, in STRICTLY custom-tailored amounts.
Studies have shown how even when people with diabetes were fed enormous amounts of food, their diabetes was reversed! Some studies were designed so that participants were not allowed to lose any weight. In the process, some ended up gaining weight, but they still experienced significant and lasting disease reversal. It gives you an idea of how beneficial this kind of eating must be to those without the disease burden, isn’t it!
Are you curious about what type of food was used in the studies?
It was an unlimited amount of green leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit. These happen to be low in calories, too, that’s all!
When you eat the right type of food, you never have to worry about starving yourself and skipping meals. You don’t have to count calories and restrict quantities. You can eat till you’re comfortably full, meal after meal, and day after day – yet lose weight!
When people mistakenly assume –
body weight (“I am underweight, I can afford to eat x, y or z”)
and calories ( so long as it’s not exceeding 1000 calories per day, give me anything! )
to dictate their food choices, they’re, in essence, assuming the tail of the elephant to be the elephant itself! It’s no different than that.
Did you find this post useful? Are you feeling angry or sad upon reading it? Venky sure was, when I said – ‘we must be scared of oil even if it is within our calorie limits .. because oil is a very highly processed edible substance that does NOT count as food!’
Share your thoughts in the comments below.