From a very early age,Mom had instilled in me a belief that I had to eat a ' balanced diet'. As a kid, I knew what diet meant, but could never quite understand how that can be balanced. To me, balance meant something that helped keep things in order, without falling off! In school sports, there was this spoon race, where everyone had to keep a marble on their spoons and I knew the ones who won the race had good balance.One could walk in a narrow line if he had good balance. So, I never could connect 'balance' and food. But mom tried to clear the confusion in my yet uncomplicated brain, by making me realise that a balanced diet indeed helped something from falling off - our good health! As we progressed in school, textbooks taught us the proportions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that are required to make a balanced diet, but in my mind, the explanation given by mom stuck!!
We grew up in a housing complex, which had ample space for kids to play, and so, unlike the kids of today, who spend most of their spare time in front of the TV, we played outdoor sports a lot. Every evening, my garments were covered in dust and mud, and my knees and elbows were never free of abrasions. In spite of being engulfed in dirt, thankfully, we never suffered from diseases too frequently and this was put down to the generous helpings of nutritious food at home. Mom never encouraged me to eat a lot of food, she always told me to eat just enough, so that I never fall short of energy. So, while fried food and rolls were almost alien items at our household, grams, honey, ground nut, green vegetables, and fish featured daily in the diet. We learnt to replenish our electrolyte stores from a very early age, as we made our own lemon-salt-water concoction after coming up from the playground!! We had fun calculating our own BMI, and felt happy that it always stayed within the normal limits. There never was the advantage of a customised Honey Diet programme like now ,where you just key in the parameters and get the BMI as well a diet chart , ......we learnt things from Mom and textbooks only!
But there was another side to the spectrum as well. As studies increased disproportionately to our age, and playing time got reduced, some of my friends got plump day by day. Before the exams, they would vouch that once the exams ended, they would get back in shape, but it was immensely difficult. The fast food frenzy before attending tuitions made it all the more difficult. Crash dieting was a concept I came to learn much later, from girls in school , who tried to attain size zero imitating movie stars. I was incredulous on coming to know that they were nearly starving themselves. The plan didn't quite work out, for the loss of weight didn't come easy: it also took away the natural lustre of the skin. From that we got to know,that thriving simply on curds and one or two fruits is not enough to sustain a human being. True to its name , crash dieting indeed does one thing to a human body: it crash lands the whole metabolism processes going on within and confuses the various hormones & enzymes at work! It will definitely put a strain on the fuel stores, as our body needs all the different food particles to keep up its functions!
Even now , when somebody stays of food for prolonged periods, I try to discourage them from doing so. I know that small but frequent meals are the order of the day to help the body digest and absorb food better, while staying hungry for hours, and then gorging on a large quantity of food does nothing to decrease the bulging tummy . On the contrary, the body will attempt to store more fuel , anticipating a subsequent period of starving, and in the process, increase the abdominal girth even more!!
So, here's wishing that every young Indian like me embraces a balanced diet and abolishes crash dieting forever !!
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