The meals we eat today though high in protein, fibre and vitamins may still not be working for us, because we eat them with guilt. The guilt of consuming too much fat, sugar or meat. We always judge our diets, especially after bingeing the night before.
Festive seasons are always followed by new subscriptions to yoga classes or gyms because the guilt lies heavy. How are we to get the best of our food, absorbed in our body, if we consume it with fear or loathing?
The fundamentals of eating, especially present-day consumption while looking at the phone or Netflix make us forget of the quantities of food we put in our body. Our stomach may be sending a signal, a quiet suggestion that it is full, but you probably missed this alarm bell, since you were busy reading the subtitles on your favourite crime show. The criminal here is you.
Why not eat happily? Forget about the right and wrong. Eat like you did as a child, relish your meal, and when you are full, stop eating. It is simple, yet so difficult to follow. We are own travel agents for the food induced guilt trips. We scroll through diet recipes, and feel the pressure to replicate them.
We have Pinterest alerts of the latest keto diet plans. The disorders in all their abbreviated forms – PCOD, IBS etc... loom on our phones and our minds. So, naturally, we blot out this 'healthy' nagging of alerts and diet charts by overeating. A vicious cycle.
The Indian diet works best for the Indian body, and local ingredients do the trick better than foreign seeds, vegetables or fruits. Why would you go hunting for quinoa or chia seeds specifically when you can get enough nutrients with the broken wheat dalia or soaked sabja seeds.
Growing up, eating seasonal fruits was the house rule. If it was in a season you ate a lot of it. The vegetables were bought fresh daily from the market. Milk was delivered to the doorstep, later boiled and a large chunk was set aside to make curd.
Today, we buy processed milk, curd and have store veggies in the fridge for days. The nutrient value is already low. We surely don’t have the time to live like we did a few decades ago, and when everything is just a phone call away why make the trip to the market to see what is locally available.
Food wastage is the real deal when it comes to food guilt. Visit a paddy field and you realise how long it takes a sapling to grow and yield a handful of grain, and back in our homes, we don’t think twice before emptying our plates filled with food into a trash can. Months of hard labour, transportation and money go to waste in a second.
Climate change will get us good for this, as it will change our diets sooner than later. A report issued earlier this week, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders) says that there will be food shortages as soon as the year 2040.
We could take small steps in making it better. Start by eating local, being aware and making our children aware of how we procure food, how it grows and makes its way to us. We need to buy less packaged food, stop using plastic straws and cutlery. Washing ourselves of the debauchery of ruining our planet, however, is going to take a long, long time.
Back to dealing with our basic food guilt trips, we need to accept that we can only feel better if we eat what we want. Sensible meals that our parents fed us, what worked for our skin types, our moods and bodies.
Nothing too sweet, or salty. No extremes. You can be assured that no workout or diet can make you feel as light as a satisfying meal eaten with your fingers; the real treat you need to give yourself - rice, roti, dal, sabzi, curd and a side of any freshly cooked meat dish, eaten with no distractions. No mystery to solve here, keep it simple and guilt free.
Sharon Fernandes is a journalist based in Delhi.