Let’s understand what exactly is an “eating habit” or becomes one. The term eating habit (or food habit) talks about – why and how people eat, which all foods they eat, and with whom they eat. It also refers to the ways – people obtain, store, and use food. The varied factors influencing an Indian’s eating habits are – Individual, social, cultural, religious, economic, environmental, and political too. We as Indians have eating habits which are based on social traditions and geographical locations. Most of our families form their peculiar habits around a combination of cultural and family traditions. Our eating habits are generally characterized by the following; the type of food we eat, the timing of when and how many times we eat, the social aspect of with whom we eat, and the mannerisms of how we eat.
So, the question is – has India completely changed its eating habits, and are there any health implications? Yes, but the degree of this change can’t be measured in exact numbers. It has become more apparent recently that the there is a shift from our traditional food habits to ‘alien’ food habits.
Past vs The Present
Only the existence of past makes way for newer experiences.
A tinge of nostalgia strikes when you and your mother try to remember the yummy and lavish meals prepared by her. She would be a non-stop machine in the kitchen doing an endless stream of chores. But then, they were done thoroughly without the shortcuts we see these days by bringing in the readymade packs from the market. This made the quality to come down.
Even the architectural design of the kitchen has changed from being at the ground to a waist-high countertop. Now, people are cooking standing up and not squatting down. Even the tools like the famous Indian coconut scrapper have been redesigned to work on kitchen counters with a reduction in muscular effort. People are finding ways to indulge their urge for novelty by investing in the name of efficient tools such as sandwich-maker, hand-held blender, electric chopper, juice maker, coffee machine, ovens, etc., costing thousands of rupees. But, these have become a necessity now, as life has become a time game. Yes, the same 24hrs/day in the past has made way for a requirement of ‘more than 24 hrs/day’.
Previously, everything was bought fresh, made fresh and eaten fresh. We used to manage the quantities so that nothing got wasted. That meant, if the dish was a special one, it would be in limited amounts and consumed within an instant. Then, a day-old food was considered to be stale and now, leftovers out of fridge after two days are microwaved and served. Here, convenience took primacy over health. Now, acceptance of ‘eating orientation’ has been realized. For example, then, baking a cake was out of syllabus, but now, with the youth demanding from their mothers – hip and happening food, vegetarian mothers are baking cakes for the first time (say) with/without eggs and in a pressure cooker. Now, the menu has changed with everything and anything (readymade) available. For example, youth’s favorite readymade cheese and pizza bases are available in the market at affordable prices.
Those days have almost disappeared when we used to carry colorful plastic tiffin boxes from mommy dearest to see us satisfied that we are eating healthy. Nowadays, tiffins are a big no-no as young college-going adults find it not hip enough. This “youth” of India lives on the junk provided in their canteen which varies from cholesterol supplemented samosas and bread pakodas, along with the soul-saving aerated drinks. Locally prepared burgers and its better half – ‘the fried chips’ are burning away your life badly. These hip and happening foods have become a national hit due to their cheap prices, instant availability and palette satisfaction.
These “easy foods” are consumed to curb that ever present hunger that all the young people seem to get nowadays. Permanent flow of ice-creams, gulab jamuns and chocolates into the stomach day in and day out for the ones having a sweet tooth is necessary to maintain their soul’s ecological balance. Momos available by the road have become the new sensation with 8-10 pieces in one plate which are fulfilling, delightful and soul-soothing. The sophisticated and relatively ‘hygienic’ outlets like the coffee shop hangouts in campus offer chilled cold coffees and pre-prepared pastas.
- Indians across age groups and income categories are falling short in meeting the WHO – World Health Organization recommendation of five servings of fruit and vegetable. A new report has revealed, Indians are consuming only 2 to 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day- a third short of the standard. The statistics are even worse in the urban scenario.
- Heart disease has become India’s top killer.
- The Indian Diabetes epidemic – The number of Diabetic persons climbed from 119 lakhs in 1980 to 645 lakhs in 2014, more than across both sexes.
- Cancer has become India’s fourth major killer.
- People who ate seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day had a 42% lower risk of death than those who ate less than one portion, the London study concluded.
- Consuming seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables lowered the risks of dying of cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively.
- Low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top 10 risk factors contributing to explainable mortality, a World Health Report said in 2003.
- Dietary patterns, with less fiber and protein and more of sugar and starches in the diet is causing diabetes in one in 10 adults, and at an ever earlier age across each generation.
The meaning of “food” has changed overtime. Before food was defined as “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plant absorbs in order to maintain life and growth”. (Healthy food). Now, in this rat race, food is being conceived as “anything that fills the stomach or satisfies the hunger”. That is, maintaining life and nourishing growth aspects of food have been forgotten. Health has been ignored for a while now, but the trend of “healthy” foods and their consumption has picked up lately with the advent of social/digital/selfie world, better looks come from having a better body, mind, health for we all have realized “we are what we eat”.
We feel changing the present eating habits is tough and tiresome. We assume switching to a nutritious diet requires hard work due to the rigid working schedules and hence just prefer to grab a bite and move on. But, here at Leanspoon – healthy food is awesome. Contact us for more details.