It is that time of the year, where celebrations and joie de vivre abound. There is plenty of food, alcohol and merriment all around. Interestingly, in urban India, higher disposable incomes and Masterchef shows have have spawned a generation of people who like to ‘dress up’ their food.
This has spawned a culture where ‘well-dressed’, ‘well-plated’ food, presented in conjunction with some non-native gourmet products or quaint items with mysterious names, have become a part of daily lives.
We are guilty of a certain herd mentality, which makes us perceive a rare commodity as superior as opposed to an everyday item.
For eg; ingredients like organic raw cane sugar, which is compositionally 100% identical to regular sugar, is still just glucose and fructose, with little to no nutrients.
Here are 5 things you need to be wary of before you begin to have them or advocate them to others
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food: Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat. While a doctor may advise certain patients to stay away from it, most people tolerate gluten just fine. Unless under specific medical advice, you must know that gluten free food is likely to contain more fat than normal versions of the same food, and less fiber and protein, too. Hence, be careful what you choose.
Sports drinks are designed with athletes in mind.: If you have a largely sedentary lifestyle, and go for the occasional run or work out, you don’t need sports drinks. These drinks contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which can be useful for athletes in many cases. Most regular people don’t need any additional salts, and they certainly have no need for liquid sugar.
Make your own salad dressing: Many people use dressings to add flavour to their salads. But many salad dressings are actually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils and trans fats, along with a bunch of artificial chemicals. Although vegetables are good for you, eating them with a dressing high in harmful ingredients will totally negate any health benefit you will get from the salad.
Make sure to check the ingredients list before you use a salad dressing… or make your own using healthy ingredients, such as honey and lemon.
Margarine is not food: Margarine is an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that have been made to look and taste like food. The Framingham Heart Study showed that people who replace butter with margarine are actually more likely to suffer the consequences of heart disease. We must refrain from using foods that sound good.
Choose your sweetener carefully: There’s a new fad every season. You will find exotic sounding sweeteners placed alongside all sorts of “health foods,” often with attractive claims on the packaging. Many of them are no better than sugar. For eg; whereas sugar is about 50 per cent fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup about 55 per cent, Agave contains even more fructose; almost 70 per cent.
To sum it up, just because something is rare and expensive, or a seasonal, non-native food, perceived as superior, it need not be healthier for you. When it comes to food, keep it simple.
The article has been authored by Dr Vijay DSilva. Medical Director, Asian Heart Institute.