Rice guys finish last: Why you shouldn’t be giving up eating rice

A case for something that’s always the first to be given up by people who want to lose weight: rice!

Food habits have evolved with our culture and our lifestyle. It’s hard-coded in our DNA; in our very own genetic build. Long before we adopted terms like ‘diet’, ‘weight loss’, and the likes, we’ve always had generations of people who have managed to stay fit and healthy. Just by eating what we’ve always had, be it raw veggies or grilled veal!

In India, whether it is in Northern or Southern parts of the country, rice has been a big part of our food culture. It has always played a vital role in our cuisine, especially in tropical climates.

Unfortunately today, the first thing that someone who wishes to do when getting rid of flab or getting back into shape is: give up rice.

Rice acts as a balancing grain for all body types although in India white rice is considered to have a slight drying quality and can increase heat, which is why it is consumed along with oil, ghee or curry of some kind. Brown rice is more unpolished than white rice, takes longer to cook. The longer it is cooked the more it is neutral and leads to lesser heating up in the body. And that also explains why nutrition science recommends the consumption of brown rice during the colder months and white rice during the summer months.

Well, our grandparents and great grandparents ate a lot of rice, and only rice! And very few of them suffered from obesity issues. Our bodies are cultured and conditioned to accept rice as our staple food. And one small change results in a massive effect on the other end. We call it the ‘Butterfly Effect of Dietary Changes’:

Step 1: Some well-wisher advised you to change to wheat from rice, because it’s oh-so-fibrous!

Step 2: You sincerely take the advice – Dosas are replaced by rotis. The humid climate in most parts of the country in summer  drains and dehydrates your body.

Step 3: You start replacing a lot of things with salads (raw food.. lots of veggies!), without realising that salads need quite some effort, and a good length of time to digest – not to mention that a lot of water is needed.

Step 4: The cold and humid climate in AC offices contributes to a massive and considerable reduction in water-intake.

Step 5: Added to all this is the amount of stress involved at work, life and of course, battling the traffic, and things at home. To counter this, a lot of caffeine is consumed – tea, coffee, green tea, and a whole lot of other things. This further increased the extent of dehydration.

Step 6: One another significant contributing factor is the amount of sleep – people generally get about 5-6 hours of sleep, and it is definitely not healthy.

Step 7: As an attempt to balance between time, comfort, and health, we end up consuming oats, cornflakes, and milk for breakfast. We forget the rule of thumb that any packed and processed food takes more time to digest.

Step 8: The only constant in all the above said things is ‘dehydration’. And this results in constipation. As a consequence, there comes in gas and acidity, and the gas introduces an unwelcome headache.

Step 9: To counter the gas and acidity, an urge to consume something cold, sweet, and carbonated increases.

Pic - cookbookman17 | Flickr

Pic – cookbookman17 | Flickr

If consuming anything that is not rice is bound to result in something that is in total contrast to the purpose for which it is consumed for, will you still go ahead??

Contrary to the most popular belief (which we should now debunk as myth), consuming rice during the day won’t result in diabetes. Rice is needed to hydrate our body, and to keep us supplied with continual energy. The time taken to cook determines the extent of neutrality in the rice. It’s generally recommended to go for white rice in the colder months, and brown rice in the warmer months.

And here’s a living, breathing example that I experienced as a part of my ReviseDiet Journey:

Nitika is a Marwari, and she grew up on a lot of Rotis. On the other hand, Shantala is from Karnataka, and was brought up on Rice and Ragi Mudde. Whenever Nitika eats Bhel, and whenever Shantala eats Biryani, both their weights increase by 1.5 Kgs – that was quite a surprise for both of them. Here’s the twist: When Shantala eats Bhel, or when Nitika consumes Basmati Rice, their weights reduce by 200 Grams. That’s more like one man’s food is another man’s poison!

Well, here’s the reason why: It’s just how they grew up! Nikita has always been used to Basmati Rice, which is quite unlike the puff-boiled rice of the south that makes her put on weight. Shantala has always been used to digesting rice, and her body literally ‘loves’ digesting the puff-boiled rice of Karnataka.

It’s high-time we understood that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for weight-loss diet. You’ve heard motivational speakers say that you are unique; and your diet, is in no way, an exception.

Atraeyee Purkait runs Revise Diet – an initiative to correct our relationship with food. She works intensively with women to change their attitudes towards health and food and to tackle various lifestyle diseases – from PCOD to osteoporesis, through food. You can find more at: http://revisediet.me/ and her FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/ReviseDiet

Atraeyee Niharchandra is a nutritionist and a practitioner of naturopathy, pranic healing and yoga. 'I lived that life. For over a decade.Today, I have traded everything for a healthy new beginning. That’s because, today, I am looking at making myself happy. With time, I have moved on from fashion and diet food to something more exotic - health within. I have my share of health struggles wi... more


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Atraeyee Niharchandra is a nutritionist and a practitioner of naturopathy, pranic healing and yoga. 'I lived that life. For over a decade.Today, I have traded everything for a healthy new beginning. That’s because, today, I am looking at making myself happy. With time, I have moved on from fashion and diet food to something more exotic - health within. I have my share of health struggles wi... more

Discuss this article on Facebook

  • Bob

    To some extent I may be inclined to agree with the author especially given the fact that she is a practicing nutritionist.
    But the article, at best is vague and inconclusive in it’s wholesome form. I can understand the article may have been written in good intension, but it feels like my aunt from Maagadi (a small town near Bangalore) wrote it based on her meager experience about modern diet.
    Except for a single mention of “Brown” rice I didn’t find any reference to unpolished or por-boiled rice – considering these are the two most healthiest forms of rice. I am no expert in this field but I know for sure that “Polished” rice, (which is makes up for the majority of south India’s staple) fall under the processed food category and lacks important nutrients except the abundance of bad carb. Just google around you will know.
    Also processed wheat is as bad as processed rice. Whole wheat flour is what’s good for health. The ultra fine processed white flour used to make cakes and white bread is the worst enemy.
    Throwing in some inconclusive examples doesn’t prove anything.

    I sincerely request the author to not write such vague and half baked article that mislead people.

    • Atraeyee Niharchandra

      Hi Bob,
      The article is based on the work & substantial research. My contact number is 8861502438, you can connect to me see our work & how we make people balance health with everyday food. The article doesnt have nutritional terms as its meant to connect to our day to day life. I dont mind explaining it to you in nutritional terms if you need further discussion or debate. I am a ground level worker and i work on local people’s health. Till now i only have 200 + past cases and only 80 patients at present. If you want to learn how we work on rice, diabetes and other chronic diseases – then you are most welcome to connect. The very reason the tridosha context is given is to give clarity on digestion cycle of rice. The article is on rice generally and doesnt endorse particular variety of rice. There are 45 + varieties of rice available in India and each one has its own + or -. There is nothing mentioned about refined flour here. U should read the article prior to give clarity on convenient food. You are free to connect with us and we can surly connect you to past and present patients for reviews and get an idea of work.
      Since the article has disturbed you to the core – please do continue the curiosity and do more research on rice, ayurveda, tridosha, etc. And if you need help – feel free to connect with me.
      The Alternative has seen our work and the only reason i am here is to write & clarify myths and at the same time talk about how food can be used for health.
      Food is never a foe. Its on you how you use it in everday life.
      My next article is going to be on Genetically modified food. I hope you will read with us and connect.
      Atraeyee Niharchandra

  • Pavika

    “We forget the rule of thumb that any packed and processed food takes more time to digest.” – anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of food chemistry/ nutrition would not write this statement. Food processing is a vast area and assuming that all processed food is “fast food/ junk food” is incorrect- to begin with. Take a simple example of instant oatmeal (a processed food); instant oatmeal has a higher Glycemic index than white rice, and would be digested faster than white rice and push up your glucose levels faster and so would white bread. On the other hand a snickers bar has lower GI and would take more time to digest than rice, would keep you full for longer. All these are processed foods, with different effects on your digestive system due to a matrix of complex ingredients. Although, while maintaining a restricted diet, a person looks forward to achieving certain health goals (weight loss/ weight gain/ sugar control etc.), a simple A is better than B does not work here, its much more complex than that. Can the editors please consult domain experts before publishing content like this?

    • Atraeyee Niharchandra

      Dear Pavika,
      I come from a naturopathy – nutrition background and we dont encourage packed & processed food as we believe fresher the food the better the digestion is. Its your choice if you want to eat rice or oatmeal. I am here to write & talk about day to day food and the conflicts which arises if we give them up. If you are able to maintain a good health with Oats & snickers then good for you. Most Indians are inclined towards traditionally “Cooked” Meal. Thats the reason the companies are manufacturing masala oats , maggie oats, etc to sell them in india. We have enough advertisements going around for processed & gm food. I am not asking to give up processed food, i am asking them keep their body hydrate. If you are able to balance water, sleep, processed food and have a gas – acidity free body then its superb.
      If you have more points to debate upon or to know what i do & why alternative has given me the chance to write then do give me a call on 881502438. I can show you my work and can give u atleast 20 to 25 people for each case study.

  • Tanmay

    linking genetic evolution (hard coded into DNA) and agriculture (and culture itself) is a stretch – please link scientific sources while making bold opening claims. Humans have evolved to be hunter-gatherers. Agriculture is a very recent phenomenon and has less chance of being an agent of genetic selection.

    • Atraeyee Niharchandra

      Dear Tanmay,
      When i say Genetically, by that i mean – human bodies are made out of two generations – mother & grandmother. the food your family ate from generations is the food that works best for you or me as our psychology and physiology are linked to it. I have not gone back to hunters or have not commented on any culture here.

  • Karthik Brahmakal

    The word rice does not originate from Tamil. It has its origin from French. Please research before claiming certain things.

  • aindrila chatterjee

    Thank you Atreyee for sharing this with all.I agree with you fully.Its a base food that keeps your system all set and energetic with the right quantity.

  • Anjali Vg

    A good logically explained article, i myself had shifted from rice to wheat. Your article is an eye opener & food for thought!!! have read lot of testimonials on your blog, you have helped many loose their weight with eating rice. Congrats & more power to you Atraeyee

  • Rajani

    Totally endorse your views Atraeyee! I am a rice eater and I love my rice be it a biriyani, pulav, dosa ,puttu or appam. Atraeyee taught me how to lose weight by eating my everyday food.She helped me understand the fundamentals of food and health.I hope more people read and understand what you have written in this article. Let it be an eye opener to all who love their rice but hesitate to make it a part of their diet.

  • sraavz

    aatrayee this article helped me lot,before I used think rice will more calories than any other food ,but now I can eat rice without any doubts,thanku

  • Anwesha Chowdhury

    Hey All..I am a follower of Atraeyee too.. I have tried almost everything to reduce my weight but nothing much happened. And i was having mood swings, food cravings and weakness. But after joining Atraeyee and going back to my roots, I am not only loosing weight but at the same time i am enjoying rice also. I am almost eating everything ( biriyani also) and still lost significant weight in a month. I would like to recommend that instead of following the theories, why cant we follow the applied knowledge.

  • my2cents

    The issue is not just about being overweight or obese. It is about type 2 diabetes. I am not saying rice causes diabetes but writing an article stating, “Well, our grandparents and great grandparents ate a lot of rice, and only rice! And very few of them suffered from obesity issues.” is at best, outlandishly oversimplified and at worst, irresponsible. If you are going to state the use of rice by previous generations as proof, you have to discuss their lifestyle and lack of other “fast/junk” food in their diet. They did not consume processed and junk food in ADDITION to eating only rice and did not lead a sedentary lifestyle. Without stating that, it’s only a half truth.

    What could the reason be for this statistic? “The National Urban Diabetes Survey (NUDS), a
    population based study was conducted in six
    metropolitan cities across India and recruited 11,216
    subjects aged 20 yr and above representative of all
    socio-economic strata13. An oral glucose tolerance
    test was done using capillary glucose and diabetes
    was defined using the WHO criteria14. The study
    reported that the age standardized prevalence of type
    2 diabetes was 12.1 per cent. This study also revealed
    that the prevalence in the southern part of India to
    be higher-13.5 per cent in Chennai, 12.4 per cent, in
    Bangalore, and 16.6 per cent Hyderabad; compared
    to eastern India (Kolkatta), 11.7 per cent; northern
    India (New Delhi), 11.6 per cent; and western India
    (Mumbai), 9.3 per cent.” (For those interested, here’s a link – http://icmr.nic.in/ijmr/2012/october/Most_cited2.pdf). Finally, here’s some advice to stay “hydrated” without adding calories…….H2O.

  • Seema Malu

    Before starting the process with Atraeyee Niharchandra I was not eating rice daily..because i was thinking it will make me puton more weight..but thanks to Atraeyee who taught us they are also good and we have to eat them once in a day in any form..like idli..dosa..plain rice.Now i m happily having it.

  • Dolon Basu

    Agreed…being a Bengali I grew up loving rice but gave it up fully and switched to Roti due weight issues… Atreyee convinced me to start rice again as my morning breakfast meal in the form of pongal or idli or the bong fish curry and rice and my body has adopted to this change very happily…thinking back my school days breakfast always used to be dal rice and I was never obese…probably as I stuck to home food and didnt have much options of junk or processed food in my diet….with rice back in my diet feel fuller in the morning and I end up having a more energetic day….so lets not make a villain out of the food grain which is our staple and remove it from our diets…rather identify and weed out the actual culprits…but definitely if someome has any specific health issue and has been told not to have rice per doctors advice…thats a different story altogether…

  • Jefferson Jaikar

    I am a hard-bred Tamil… and I know what rice means to us.. And this article goes not only to explain why rice might aid in weight loss, but also how things might backfire if we run against the normal!

    For me, at the end of the day, rice is my home-food.. and I was not born obese… and I stayed slim for quite some time, just by eating rice. And this article perfectly falls in line to answer a few intriguing questions. I am not a direct beneficiary of the author’s courses or programs. But I am totally assured that rice does not hurt so much after all.

    On a lighter note, I was never gonna give up rice anyways!! 😉 And this article only makes me feel a lot better about it!! Thanks Ms. Atraeyee!!