What’s on your plate: Want a healthy 2015? The only thing you need to do is “unbox” your food

Wondering what list of things you should avoid to stay healthy this year? Start with the packet – it could change your life.


Remember childhood days when train journeys and roadtrips were the stuff of huge excitement? In my case, one of the highs was a chance to eat junk food! Trips meant that we get to gorge on chips and chocolates, something my father never allowed us to do otherwise. Home food was the only thing we knew. Cakes, bread, aerated drinks, or processed savouries were taboo at home. Eating out meant that it was an occasion to celebrate – the only time we ate in restaurants or hotels were on birthdays, during weddings, and the occasional chicken soup when one came down with cough or cold.

And now, eating, like everything else has become commodified. We lead a life where we eat most things out of packets. Back when we were growing up, convenience food was an alternative when nothing else was possible – while travelling or when one was unable to whip up a home-cooked meal, however simple.

In today’s life, convenience food has replaced real food for various reasons:

1) it is highly affordable,
2) it is perceived as hygienic (why worry when something is labelled as highest standards of packaging and hygienic preparation good enough to be exported across the world), and
3) it is readily available and we can avoid cooking when hungry.

Mothers find it easier to hand over oat cookies or fortified biscuits instead of a roti or a paratha, also because biscuits and chocolates can be found everywhere and it is much easier to get children to eat it!

shopping cart - shutterstock

Pic – Shutterstock

But if you knew that your favourite breakfast cereal contained Butylated Hydroxytoluene, a product also used in jet fuel, would you still prefer to eat it? Most processed foods that are considered ‘healthy’ and labelled as ‘natural’ contain harmful preservatives and flavour enhancers – and these chemicals are often disguised under unrecognizable names and an ingredient list few of us would understand.

Today, when I go to the supermarket, my nutritionist heart aches to see shelves clogged with packaged and processed foods. The shopping carts of people have more boxes and packets than real food. Most chronic diseases are diet-induced diseases. The equation is simple – INPUT = OUTPUT. Our body is unable to process mechanically altered foods. What we can’t digest reflects as weight-gain.

If you want to do just one thing to be healthier in 2015, let it be this:

Unwrap food: If it is wrapped in plastic, cardboard, or foils, it is probably not real food and I am not going to eat it – unless it is an emergency and I am in the middle of a deserted island. If it is heavily advertised then it is probably not food and I am not going to eat it.

Initially it might look like a big task to avoid packed convenience food so the easy way to do it is to avoid any food packaging that has a long list of ingredients with names that sound like they’re from a distant planet.

Here’s to a healthy 2015.

What are you challenges or lessons from staying healthy? Leave your comments on the post and I will answer them for you.

 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


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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  • A scientist

    A well-intentioned but scientifically dumb article!

  • Pseudoscience sucks!

    “Butylated Hydroxytoluene, a product also used in jet fuel, ” Haha… stop scaring people. That’s like saying stop drinking water because it’s also used in the production of petroleum via fracking or because it is also found in a cat’s urine or because terrorists also drink it. When will dumb people realize that one product can have multiple uses spanning several industries! BHT is an antioxidant used in oil to prevent if from going rancid. If you don’t use it, get used to throwing away your can of oil every month instead of using over five to six months.

    Smart people are busy solving the problems of the world while dumb people have all the time in the world scaring people by writing unscientific blogs all over the internet. That’s the real problem of today’s world.