Does rice make you fat? Are some healthy diets really expensive? Celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar dispels common food myths with some healthy-eating facts that may surprise you.
1. Myth: Eating wheat, rice or ghee makes you fat
The Truth: Superfoods have stood the test of time. So if there is any food which you have heard from your grandmother and it is a part of your cooking tradition and which can be cooked in multiple ways, that is a sign of a superfood, informs Rujuta. “For example, rice can be cooked as biryani or khichdi. It can be cooked for Shraadh to Shaadi. Any ingredient that has a wide application is a superfood. Rice is a superfood. India has more than 10,000 varieties of rice,” she says.
“A lot of them are disappearing because they don’t have patronage of communities anymore. So, go back to eating the local rice of your region and cook it exactly the way your grandmom asked you to, depending on the tradition of your home. Buy your rice from your local farmer,” she adds.
Besides, time-tested food and versatility, the third sign of a superfood is that it is a part of your art and culture, mentions Rujuta. Like, you will find songs on it or it will be used in decorative items may be as a rangoli or a
tooran. The fourth sign is that it is yummy to taste and comforting in its nature.
The more local, seasonal, traditional we eat the better it is for our waistlines, economy and ecology.
Superfoods that are hidden in plain sight
So, whether it is wheat, ghee, rice, banana or something as comforting as nimboo, they are all local foods. They come with a local name and may not essentially have English or Hindi translations, so we really need to look for superfoods. They are secrets because they are hidden in plain sight, she reveals. “You look for superfoods exactly like the way you look for love not in places where they tell you will find them, not in hashtags or on the net, but in real life,” she adds.
Every time I see people copying habits of the west, I want to tell them that their food habits are very poor and it is not the food habits that we should be copying.
2. Myth: Healthier foods are more expensive
The Truth: Health goes far beyond what you just eat; it is also about your thought processes, says Rujuta. “We have had lots of invasions, right from the times we know of ourselves as a country. The most recent one being the British invasion. We have been a former British colony for more than 200 years and post-independence we went on to become a new developing/ emerging economy, so invariably the rich people of the country began to associate very poor prestige to eating their local and native food,” she adds.
Until now, to say that you’re cool, affluent or educated it really meant going away from your regular roti, sabji, dal, chawal and eating more of the breads, cookies, soups and the salads. None of which is local or native, none of which helps you to stay fit or serves your local economy or global ecology well either, advises Rujuta. “Even if we are talking about eating vegetables, people hardly eat dudhi (bottle gourd), karela (bitter gourd), pumpkin or tendli (ivy gourd) and the likes and it is more about eating kale, avocado or asparagus, so it is constantly about wanting something which is not native. But what really helps is for diverse people from diverse regions to keep up with their native habits. The more local, seasonal, traditional we eat the better it is for our waistlines, economy and ecology,” Rujuta says.
People hardly eat dudhi (bottle gourd), karela (bitter gourd), pumpkin or tendli (ivy gourd) and the likes and it is more about eating kale, avocado or asparagus, so it is constantly about wanting something which is not native.
“Every time I see people copying habits of the west, I want to tell them that their food habits are very poor and it is not the food habits that we should be copying. Our food habits are really rich and we need to stick with them. What we must copy is may be the footpaths, cycling lanes, mass transport, the city planning because they do that better than us so that is worth copying. So what they do better than us, we should copy, and what they do worse than us we shouldn’t really be copying that,” she adds.
3. Myth: Starving can help in weight loss
The Truth: “From the time that I started working in 1998, mostly, my work has been to get people to eat. Because dieting has become synonymous with deprivation and when you’re deprived of food, you cannot possibly be full with fitness, health or well being,” she says, adding that her recent book
Eating in the Age of Dieting inspires Indians to eat local, seasonal and traditional foods and not (follow) fads.
You look for superfoods exactly like the way you look for love. Not in places where they tell you will find them, not in hashtags or on the net, but in real life.
“In the last 20 years, what I have seen is that people are either depriving themselves of calories or fats or carbohydrates or long hours of food. I have seen the desperation to stay slim, may be people want to look slimmer than they were 15 years ago but the method is the exact same. People who were depriving themselves of calories in the late 1990s, then began to deprive themselves of fats in early 2000s and post that it was carbohydrates and then it was just like deprive yourself of long hours of eating. It is just deprivation. Eat local, seasonal and traditional food so that you find a sustainable path to health, well-being and fitness,” Rujuta suggests.