Obesity patterns in India

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has estimated trends in obesity and overweight prevalence worldwide and by country for the years 1980 to 2013. Data were derived from surveys, reports, and published studies that included data for height and weight, both through physical measurements and self-reports. The results are released in May 2014. Body mass index (BMI) is a weight-to-height ratio. Overweight persons have a BMI greater than or equal to 25 and less than 30. Obese persons have a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

Obesitypattern_india_2013Information is taken from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Seattle, University of Washington, 2014 site.

Our choice of life: Sugar & fat

Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need. – Will Rogers

Our health is directly affected by what we eat!

Until a decade ago, in a typical Indian diet (at least in Maharashtra state) the desserts and sweets were traditionally for festivals. Sweet drinks like lemonade, fruit juices or sweet yoghurt were for summer season.  A good way to avoid dehydration during summer time when temperature crosses the mark of 35 degree C.  Although sugar (or jaggery) was used in making food items but it was just to add a taste. The emphasis in food culture was best described according seasonal fruits and vegetables. Now the times have changed.

In present day situation majority of us are used to ready-made food products. No country is an exception. The grocery list is dominated by bakery products, ready-made food items and flavoured sweet drinks. People find thousands of reasons to support their wish for these items.

In the beginning of 2014 there were many articles discussing the major public health issue related to excessive consumption of sugar.  Higher consumption of sugar is both addictive and toxic. This is why sugar is being called ‘the new tobacco’.

Some of the significant issues:

  • Sugar is just not about desserts and chocolates but  often hides under several pseudonyms and found in even the most innocuous foods (like bread, crackers, salad dressing, ketchup, and mustard).
  • Cough syrups, chewing gum, mints, tomato sauce, baked beans, and lunch meats are often hidden sources of sugar.
  • Fat free doesn’t mean sugar free, especially in yoghurt.
  • If people want healthier food they need to accept it might look and taste a bit different.
  • The British Medical Journal ran an opinion piece from a cardiologist asserting that sugar and not saturated fat was the leading cause in the rise in heart disease and diabetes.
  • What prompts us to eat and drink much more than our need is the excessive sugar not the fat.
  • A 20-30% reduction in sugar over time will cut our calorie intake by about 100kcal a day – and more for those who consume a lot of sugar.

There are more issues related to over consumption sugar and also fat. Instead of looking for low fat/fat free/sugar free products I would suggest avoiding ready-made products as much as possible.

Let advertisers spend the same amount of money improving their product that they do on advertising and they wouldn’t have to advertise it. Will Rogers

 I found the following articles helpful.

  1. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/09/obesity-campaign-cut-sugar-processed-foods
  2. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-25666556
  3. http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/lower-your-sugar-intake/3/
  4. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/26/saturated-fat-cut-pledge

20/365 – More on Health!

The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins148866.html#JvMi61e60TXFUkf3.99
The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat.
Albert Einstein
People who don’t know how to keep themselves healthy ought to have the decency to get themselves buried, and not waste time about it.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrikibse149211.html#FofKVPr7buAzOuOk.99

19/365 – About Health again!

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Mahatma Gandhi


It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mahatmagan109078.html#OUtddt83XCtEIVZ1.99

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mahatmagan109078.html#OUtddt83XCtEIVZ1.99

Food for season and tradition – 2

I started writing about the traditional food according to season in Indian culture a few months ago. The first post was ‘Food for season and tradition’

Today is 14th of January; is a very auspicious day in Hindu calendar. Today according to Hindu belief, the God Sun visits his son Shani (Saturn) who is the master of Zodiac sign Capricorn.  It is called “Makar sankranti”.  In sanskrit, Capricorn is Makar and transition is sankranti. Hence it is the day when Sun enters into the northern hemisphere; with astrological significance the Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac constellation. There are 12 zodiac signs and thus there are 12 transitions of Sun. But the most important is Makar sankranti, from Sagittarius to Capricorn.  Makar sankranti signifies that we begin to enjoy a new light within ourselves as after this day the days start to become longer and warmer.  Tilgul_kha_god_god_bola

It is a major harvest festival and there by is for prosperity, and is celebrated in various parts of India with distinct names and rituals. In many states, it is celebrated with Kite flying  festival.  People offer thousands of their colourful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites. The message intended is, “Rise higher like the kite’. Also at some places people offer donations. As bulls signify the harvest season, they are treated with respect and decorated with garlands and prayed to. Major cattle fairs are held at different places where many camels, bullocks and horses are sold and purchased by animal lovers.

Since the festival is celebrated in mid winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. In state Maharashtra, people make sweets with sesame seeds, clarified butter and sugar or jaggery (a traditional uncentrifuged sugar).  People exchange these sweets and greet each other by saying `til-gul ghya, god god bola’, meaning accept the sweets and speak sweet. Basically, it is to resolve all sorts of misunderstanding during the past year and remain friends.  For lunches, a mixed vegetable curry (although it is very thick) is made using fresh vegetables available during this time of year, specially carrots, beans, aubergine (eggplant), peas, potatoes, peanuts, sesame seeds, grated fresh coconut meat and lot of fresh corriander.  Breads are made with sesame seeds and either pearl millet floor or wheat flour. Pearl millet flour gives lot of energy and specially eaten during winter season. Another kind of sweet bread is also made with a special filling which includes sesame seeds, peanutnut powder and jaggery.

According to Ayurveda, winter season is for consuming healthy food. Eating nuts, fresh milk products, fats, protiens and sweets made from fresh ingedients are good to retain heat and energy of our body. It is also advisable to drink warm water and ginger tea.

More information on Makar sankranti:


Consuming food is Yadnya Karma (यज्ञकर्म – a sacred act)

Food is the fuel of human life. But it is not as simple as it seems, many people do have digestion problems like bloating stomach pain, constipation.

One of the reasons behind this is grabbing or munching of food. According to Ayurveda the process of eating food is very important for our physical and mental health.

To improve digestion we need to sit in a proper way and remain calm.  Every culture has its own way of saying a prayer of thanksgiving before eating a single morsel of food,  the Christians say their grace.

There is an old shloka (chant) recited before stating the meal.

vadani kaval gheta naam ghya shri-hariche l
sahaj havan hote naam gheta phukache l
jivan kari jivitva anna he purn-brahma l
udar-bharan nohe janije yadnya-karma ll 1 ll

वदनि कवळ घेता नाम घ्या श्रीहरीचे ।
सहज हवन होते नाम घेता फुकाचे ।
जिवन करि जिवित्वा अन्न हे पूर्णब्रह्म ।
उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म ॥१॥

Eating is not  merely for filling stomach but is a sacred act of consuming healthy meal for a complete digestion and so be humble and satisfied with the food.
 We should always remember that we are indeed so blessed to have food of our own choice. There is nothing wrong in being humble,  we should be grateful for the rain (nature in a way) and the farmers for their hard work for the harvests, the fire to cook the food and all the helping hands responsible for serving the food on our plates everyday. A simple way to express gratitude is by saying a thanksgiving prayer at the end of a meal
“Annadaata Sukhi Bhav!”
These small tips are to make us healthier and happier.

Food for season and tradition

India, being a multicultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. There are different types of festivals, such as  religious festivals,  local festivals (depending on prevalent religion and linguistic demography),  or harvest  festivals. These festivals have different names and  are celebrated in different ways in different states of India.  This is my attempt to look around and learn the significance of these festivals in the present world.  Furthermore,  will  try to find  the cuisines related to the festivals and  see what Ayurveda say about the recipes.

The traditional meals prepared and served during festivals are influenced by the local food availability and most important the seasons.   There are 6 Ritu (seasons) in India. These are Vasant (Spring),  Grishma (Summer), Varsha (Monsoon), Sharad (Autumn), Hemant (Winter)  and Shishir (Winter and fall).  Indian cuisine reflects a thousands of years of history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to diversity of flavours and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. In short, the food is  heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices.

Yesterday was Gudi Padwa, the beginning of the new year according to the lunisolar Hindu calender. The word Padwa means the first day of the bright phase of the moon.  On this day, the sun assumes a position above the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians.  According to the Hindu calender,  this marks the commencement of the Vasant ritu or the spring season.  Gudi padwa is celebrated in many states, hence the traditional food depends on the region.

According to Ayurveda,  it is not advisable to consume cold dishes, including  yogurt in winter.  Cold food or drinks increase cough in our body.  Spring is a time to make ourselves ready for summer.  The sweet dish made for Gudi Padwa in a state called Maharashtra is called Shrikhand, made from home made curd (yogurt) and sugar.  To reduce the side effect of yogurt,  nutmeg powder is used with a pinch of saffron to flavour the Shrikhand.   This time of a year is for  cleansing and renewal of our body  and hence 2-3  young leaves of Neem or Azadirachta indica are eaten during the lunch on Gudi Padwa.  Neem is believed to have antibacterial properties.  Neem leaves taste very bitter and can cause severe acidity if consumed in large amount.

A new year has began, I will write more about food traditions of Maharashtra  with coming up festivals.