This year enlightened us about good food

This year enlightened us about good food
I CAN’T believe that yet another year has gone by. It seems like just yesterday that it was January 1, 2013, and now it’s going to be January 1, 2014! Nevertheless, a wrap-up, therefore, seems to be in order.

I believe that this year has been a sort of turning point for food. People have become aware of what they eat. No longer is it as common to see officegoers thronging roadside food eateries to eat chana puri or vada pav. The average office goer is now looking for something which has substance. People are aware that eating deep-fried foods and foods made from maida are bad for health. This is obvious even in advertising. A popular biscuit advertisement actually asks if your biscuit is made from maida. Another one talks about using healthy oils for deep-frying. Yet another one tells you about the amount of fibre in their product.

TV cooking shows have caught on to the healthy trend as well. While a majority of the shows still showcase dishes made from maida, butter, white sugar and eggs among other things, more and more shows are now teaching people how to cook healthy food. For example, chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who till recently only demonstrated run of the mill recipes using refined and unhealthy ingredients, now cannot stop talking about how one should not use too much butter or too much oil because they are unhealthy.

Since people have become aware that hydrogenated oils are bad for you, olive oil and rice bran oils have, in turn, become very popular. Manufacturers are touting them as the healthiest oils possible and one of them even features a top celebrity like Raveena Tandon Thadani to advertise their rice bran oil. Radio shows around the country are running contests asking for recipes using olive oil to improve the popularity of their oil and make it more popular in the mainstream.

It’s a vicious circle. Eating foods made from refined food items such as maida, white rice, white bread and milk, consuming too much sugar (did you know that sugar fuels the growth of cancer cells?) and too much of fatty foods cause illnesses. So the rate of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension and cancer have increased manifold, and the reason is the lack of a healthy diet. Meat, eggs, milk and fish are now known to be bad for one’s health, not just because they have contaminants and contain cholesterol, but because they also have no fibre whatsoever. Eating foods with fibre is the new mantra.

I feel that this year, the common man has become aware of words like cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure and tension (all caused by eating wrong foods and leading an unhealthy lifestyle). My kitchen help, Lata, often discusses with me how her sister suffers from “sugar” and blood pressure, something that would have been unheard of just a little while ago.

Super foods like Amaranth (the humble rajgira for us Indians), couscous, quinoa, spelt, oats, among others, became popular and are being attributed with properties such as reducing cholesterol and improving heart health.

The term ‘vegan’ has become popular enough for vegan restaurants to be springing up all around the country. What’s more, these restaurants are doing pretty well too. Also, the number of people who follow a vegan diet has increased, and no longer do people look puzzled on hearing the term ‘vegan’, as they did till just last year, confusing it with being another term for ‘vegetarian.’

All that one needs to really understand is that we all need fibre in our bodies. It is fibre that helps to aid in our digestion. The insoluble fibre in oats for example, binds with fat like cholesterol in our blood streams and help to eject them from our bodies, thus improving our health. So if we eat unrefined whole foods, we will all be healthy. Good eating habits, clearly, were the food fad for 2013, and now, here’s to a healthy happy rocking 2014. May we all have good health.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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