India has always practiced an eating style that was in synergy with the local environment and culture. Indian food habits have evolved over centuries through a deep knowledge of our body and an in-depth understanding of how our organs would react to or accept a particular type of food. Over time, many practices have eroded either due to external influences or because the wisdom behind particular practices were lost and it did not appeal to the current generational logic anymore.
Scientific research and easy access to knowledge today, are bringing back and making sense of what was considered as “grandma’s food beliefs”.
Here are four such food practices that you can add to your regular routine.
- Begin with sweet: Traditionally, the typical South Indian meal that is served on a banana leaf will begin with a piece of sweet. If there is none handy, you will see a simple slice of banana dipped in sugar. Now, why was the important? Sweet has a tendency to trigger the hunger pangs in our body. When we begin our meal with a small piece of jaggery, sugar or a spoon of that “payasam”, the sugar instantly transmits a signal to our brains which in turn sends back a signal to the digestive system to begin secreting digestive juices and speed up the process of digestion.
- Ghee: For the past many years, fat slammers, slimming clinics and western culture foodonomics, have always accused ghee of making people fat and unhealthy. It was only a handful of people who have been shouting otherwise and their voices were suppressed until now. According to Ayurveda, ghee is sacred. It kindles the AGNI (digestive power) within us. When ghee is included in the diet, the high saturated fat content increases our digestive capacity and extremely good for weight loss. Yes, you read it right! If you plan to lose weight the healthy way, include at least one spoon of desi ghee in your diet. Ghee has a high smoke point – which means: even when heated to a very high temperature, it will not break down that easily. Therefore, it is an extremely good medium of cooking.The process of making Ghee removes all traces of milk solids from butter and therefore making it suitable even for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products.
- Go local: Consuming and promoting local and seasonal food is a great way for our bodies and environments to thrive. One of the metrics used to measure the benefits of a particular food is the “Food Miles”, or in other words, how many miles has the food travelled to reach our homes. The lesser, the better!
A locally grown gooseberry (amla) can provide you with the same amount of nutrients than an imported box of strawberries or goji berries.Millets like Ragi, Jowar or Bajra have excellent nutrient qualities. Inclusion of Millets as rice substitutes have proven in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetics. Ragi is a great source of calcium which is almost thrice the quantity provided by milk.When you choose to go local, you are choosing to support your environment and the farmers.
- Health is not packed in a factory: Industrialization is a boon. Factories have made various things possible for us. Packaged food is a blessing in many instances and lets us have a lot more time on hand. While we count our blessings, let us also spend a few minutes to consider the amount of processing our packed food has gone through.The more the number of processes, the lower are its natural benefits. The lower the natural benefits, the higher in artificial flavouring and additives.Our body is better off processing something natural than an additive/ foreign ingredient manufactured in a factory.
It is time to stop obsessing about nutrition based on an industry and research agency that keep changing its food hero and villain list. Let us, instead, use common sense, traditional logic and give a keen ear to our bodies to guide us the right way.